India agriculture minister Sharad Pawar slapped

India's Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has been slapped in the face by a man in the capital, Delhi.

The attacker, Harvinder Singh, said he was angered by reports of corruption scandals and high inflation.

Television footage showed Mr Singh slapping the minister as he climbed the steps of a government building.

Mr Pawar flinched at the contact, but then continued walking. One of his staff hit back at the attacker, who was taken away by police.

Before he was led away, Mr Singh shouted at television cameras, condemning corruption. He took out a small knife and said this would not be his only attack on politicians.

Shoe attacks

Mr Pawar, who is also the president of the International Cricket Council, later played down the attack.

"There are miscreants and troublemakers in society, one should not give so much importance to them," he told a television channel.

Image caption Mr Pawar tried to play down the attack

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the assault.

Before being whisked away, the attacker told reporters that last week he had tried to hit the former telecoms minister Sukh Ram.

Sukh Ram had been found guilty of accepting a bribe and sent to jail for five years.

Reports at the time said a young man had been restrained by police when he tried to attack the former minister as he left the court en route to jail after his conviction.

In the last few years, a number of high-profile members of the government have been assaulted in India.

In 2009, a Sikh journalist hurled a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram for the government's failure to punish those behind the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

Since then, shoes have also been hurled separately at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party LK Advani.

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