Congress candidate from Northeast Delhi, Kanhaiya Kumar, was assaulted on Friday while campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.

Videos of the assault circulating on social media show a man dressed in a black shirt approaching Kumar with a garland and rose petals and shouting slogans in his support. However, as he reached Kumar, he threw ink on him while another man slapped the Congress candidate.

Several Congress leaders have since posted photos on social media that purportedly show at least one of the attackers sharing a stage with Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Northeast Delhi’s sitting MP Manoj Tiwari.

Tiwari’s office, however, has denied that he has any connections with the accused, reported The Indian Express.

The assault took place when Kumar was leaving the Aam Aadmi Party office in New Usmanpur accompanied by councillor Chhaya Sharma and other party workers. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress are contesting the Lok Sabha elections in alliance in Delhi.

Two of the alleged attackers, meanwhile, have posted a video on social media stating that they assaulted Kumar as he had allegedly sloganeered against the Indian Army and on disintegrating the country. They also described themselves as “Sanatani lions”. Sanatana Dharma is a term some people use as a synonym for Hinduism.

A case has been registered in the incident on a complaint filed by Sharma. “When I rushed to protect Kanhaiya, they manhandled me and threatened to kill me and my husband,” she alleged, according to The Indian Express.

Kumar’s office has alleged that Tiwari is behind the assault as he is upset with the “huge public support Kanhaiya is getting and fear of defeat”.

“This is an attempt to attack Kanhaiya by sending his fellow goons,” the Congress leader’s office states. “The answer to violence will be given by the people on May 25.”

Congress interim chief Devender Yadav said the party will report the incident to the Election Commission. “They [BJP] do not have anything to talk about when it comes to development, so they are using these petty tactics to disturb his campaign,” said Yadav.

Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said the BJP was “resorting to its usual attitude of thuggery and violence in the face of a historic defeat”.

“The cowardly attack by BJP goons on our Northeast Delhi candidate Kanhaiya Kumar is highly deplorable and shows their desperation,” said Venugopal. “All the workers of the INDIA bloc stand by him against this fascist and criminal regime’s dirty tactics.”

Tiwari’s office stated that Kumar was “spreading rumours”.

“We do not indulge in such petty things,” stated Tiwari’s office, reported The Indian Express. “Tukde Tukde wale Kumar is trying to create a sensation by dragging the name of his opponent out of frustration in a baseless claim.”

The phrase is often used by BJP leaders to pejoratively refer to its critics as separatists.

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