Bharatiya Janata Party's controversial candidate for Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat Ashok Sahu was arrested on Tuesday for an alleged hate speech and sent to judicial custody for two weeks after his bail petition was rejected by a court.
Sahu, who had twice given the slip to the police, was taken into custody while participating in a motorcycle rally with nearly 100 party supporters at College Square in Phulbani in Kandhamal.
Later, Sahu, who was booked under Section 125 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, and Section 153 (a) of the Indian Penal Code, was produced before sub-divisional judicial magistrate Dolagobinda Barik at Baliguda, where his bail petition was rejected.
A criminal case had been registered against him on April 10, after the returning officer of Kandhamal verified Sahu's recorded speech at an election meeting.
"Sahu was arrested at Phulbani town," Deputy Inspector General of Police (Southern Range) R P Koche said.
During campaigning at Raikia village on April 5, Sahu had allegedly blamed Christians for the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati, on August 23, 2008.
Saraswati's killing had triggered massive anti-Christian violence, which had claimed 43 lives while thousands had fled their homes in fear.
His arrest was 'part of a conspiracy' and he was 'framed on false charges', Sahu, a former police officer, told reporters immediately after being arrested.
"The voters of Kandhamal will give a befitting reply to the injustice meted to me," he said.
Sahu had earlier claimed that he would allow the police to arrest him on the last day of campaigning, which is today.
Sahu had moved the Orissa High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the criminal case and the court is likely to hear his petition on Wednesday.
Terming his arrest as 'illegal', Sahu claimed that he was not served an arrest warrant earlier. "The Returning Officer and Superintendent of Police, Kandhamal, were present when I was arrested," he said.
Sahu said that though most of the tribal voters were illiterate, they had a strong political sense. "They will vote for me to avenge Swamiji's killing," he claimed.
BJP's national Vice-President Jual Oram described the arrest as 'politically motivated' and said "tribals of Kandhamal will certainly give a resounding reply to this injustice."
"How can you arrest the candidate on the last day of campaigning," BJP state president Suresh Pujari wondered.