Gujarat Congress MP faces arrest for brandishing gun at toll booth

Congress MP from Porbandar, Vithal Radadiya, who was caught on camera brandishing a gun at attendants at a toll booth near Vadodara for demanding toll be paid by him, has been charged for rioting and brandishing a weapon in public.

An unrepentant Radadiya told reporters on Saturday that he took out the weapon in self defence as several toll booth attendants had gathered around his vehicle. ''I showed my ID card but the security person said it was fake,'' said the MP. ''They called me a fake MP and tried to misbehave. I thought they would fight with me.'' He said he had a licenced gun, ''which I don't keep to show off.''

Radadiya was travelling along with his bodyguard and a few others on the night of 10 October, when his vehicle stopped at a toll both in Karjan taluka in Vadodara district in Gujarat.

According to the toll booth employees, Radadiya's driver argued with them, claiming that he did not have to pay the toll as he was driving an MP. Member of Parliament are exempted from paying tax.

When asked for the MP's identification, the driver produced a photo-copy, which was not accepted by the officials there. Radadiya then got off the car, pulled out his gun and threatened the toll booth officials. All this was caught on the CCTV cameras placed at the booth.

According to the police, the images from the CCTV confirmed that the person brandishing the weapon was Radadiya. The police registered an FIR against Radadiya and plan to arrest him soon.

With elections for the Gujarat state assembly due in December, the Congress is in for a huge embarrassment. The ruling BJP is already capitalising on the incident. ''It has shown us the true face of Congress,'' remarked Jai Narayan Vyas, spokesman of the Gujarat government. ''We condemn the incident. The law will take its own course and appropriate action will be taken.''

The Congress reacted cautiously to the incident, with Manish Tewari, the party spokesman, admitting that the clippings, flashed on television screens, was 'disturbing.' He said the party has asked for an explanation from its MP.