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INDIA Bloc Writes to EC Over 'House Arrest' of Uttar Pradesh Candidate on Poll Day

Police visited a house connected to SP candidate Lalji Verma and purportedly prevented the candidate from leaving.
A screengrab of a video released by Lalji Verma on X, showing police at his relative Lavkush's house.

Lucknow: The opposition INDIA bloc has said that the Uttar Pradesh police’s May 25 early morning raid on a house connected to its candidate from the Ambedkarnagar Loksabha constituency is an abuse of government machinery and was intended to influence the polls.

Cops knocked on the doors of Lavkush Verma, a relative of INDIA bloc candidate and Samajwadi Party leader Lalji Verma, as polling got underway in the sixth phase of general elections. Lavkush is in charge of the Tanda assembly segment for Lalji. Upon finding the doors closed, police reportedly breached the boundary walls to enter his residence.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

 After learning about the raid, Lalji arrived at the scene and a heated argument ensued with police. Lalji claims police failed to show them a relevant warrant.

Lalji claimed that police had placed him and his family under house arrest and that he was unable to meet party workers for several hours. Police later released him, presumably under pressure from the opposition.

Dr. Kaustubh, the Superintendent of Police in Ambedkar Nagar, said that Lalji had not really been put under house arrest, but that police went there to apprehend and produce Lavkush before a magistrate’s court over a complaint registered a day ago over an allegation that he distributed cash. 

Lalji has claimed that Lavkush did no such thing. “My relative withdrew money from the bank and carried it with himself in a car. He was not distributing it anywhere. Allegations levelled against him are frivolous and levelled with a malafide intention to defame me,” Lalji added. 

Ritesh Pandey, a Bahujan Samaj Party turncoat in Ambedkarnagar, is running as an NDA candidate on the Bhartiya Janata Party’s ticket. In 2019, he had been elected as a joint candidate of the SP and BSP.

Opposition criticism

The SP and Congress have vehemently criticised the BJP, accusing the saffron party of abusing the government’s power to influence the ongoing elections.

The SP leader, Arvind Kumar Singh, has written to the Election Commission against the alleged house arrest of the party candidate in Ambedkarnagar. Singh alleged in the letter that police are dancing to the tune of the ruling dispensation and are creating a hostile environment for the opposition. In such circumstances, free and fair elections are not possible, he wrote.

The SP also sought an intervention from the Election Commission and demanded Lalji’s release. Party chief Akhilesh Yadav wrote on X, “The police neither wanted nor found anything…this is an evil act to tarnish the upright image of Lalji Verma. Extremely condemnable…This is the frustration of the losing BJP.” 

 While criticising the raid, Congress said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government are “so perturbed by the fear of defeat that they have openly come to dictatorship.” Anil Yadav, organisational secretary of the UP Congress, said, “To avert an electoral loss, the BJP can go to any low.” 

He went on to say that the Congress also received complaints from Azamgarh that police had created obstacles at booths where Muslims are in the majority. 

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