Unidentified protestors hurled stones at Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s vehicle in Churhat near Sidhi district on Sunday, reported PTI. Chouhan escaped unhurt, said Inspector Ram Babu Choudhari.

The protestors also unfurled black flags. At present, the chief minister is touring the state ahead of the Assembly polls. He is travelling in a bus that has been modified as a chariot.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said the police have arrested nine accused, and claimed they were all “prominent Congress leaders”, ANI reported. “The incident is shameful and unfortunate,” he said. “It also proves that Congress can stoop to any low to come to power.”

Churhat is the constituency of Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh, a Congress legislator. Later, at a meeting Chouhan challenged Singh to fight him openly. “Ajay Singh, if you have strength come in open and fight with me,” he said. “I am physically weak but I will not be bogged down by your deeds. People of the state are with me.”

“Congress has become bloodthirsty,” the chief minister told ANI. “This has never happened in the history of politics in Madhya Pradesh. There was always a battle of ideas, but this never happened.”

Chouhan said he wanted to ask United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Congress state president Kamal Nath what direction they wanted to take the party in. “Is it fine what their leaders and workers are doing?” he asked.

Singh denied the Congress’ involvement. He said his party does not follow the culture of violence. “I suspect that it was a well thought and hatched conspiracy aimed at defaming me and people of Churhat,” he added.