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Mistry held in poster battle

Ahmedabad, April 3: Gujarat police today arrested Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry, contesting against Narendra Modi from Vadodara, after the 69-year-old climbed up an electricity pole and tried to replace the chief minister’s posters with his own.

Mistry, close to Rahul Gandhi and a key party strategist, later received bail along with Vadodara Congress chief Narendra Ravat and the 40-odd party workers arrested with them.

An FIR has been lodged and the accused have been booked for rioting, unlawful assembly and damaging public property, deputy commissioner of police Dipankar Trevidi said.

In New Delhi, a Congress team met the Election Commission to accuse the Gujarat government of misusing the state machinery and denying Congress candidates an equal opportunity for electioneering, a PTI report said.

Condemning the arrests, the Gujarat Congress said the Vadodara civic authorities had allowed the BJP to plaster all the poll “advertisement kiosks” — such as electricity poles, billboards and hoardings — in key city areas with Modi’s posters.

Mistry had written to the Vadodara municipal corporation and district election officer Vinod Rao three days earlier, requesting them to give him space to paste his posters by 11am today, state Congress spokesperson Shailesh Amin said.

This morning, Rao told Congress leaders that he had forwarded the request to the state’s chief electoral officer in Gandhinagar but was yet to receive any directive.

A peeved Mistry clambered up a power pole outside the party office in the Dandiya Bazar locality, tore down Modi’s posters and tried to put up one of his own.

The BJP had begun putting up Modi’s posters in Vadodara city by March 24.

Mistry alleged that the police had used force on Congress workers and accused the state election commission and local bodies of colluding with the BJP.

“We had told the Election Commission that if we are not given equal space, we would have to put up our posters atop those of Modi’s,” he said.

In Delhi, senior Congress leaders Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, K.C. Mittal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi were part of the team that met the Election Commission, PTI added.

They also raised the issue of “strange results” in electronic voting machines during a mock drill in Assam’s Jorhat, when every button pressed allegedly led to the vote being cast in favour of the BJP.

Singhvi said a similar flaw was detected during the recent Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh.

“We have called for a full recheck of the electronic voting machines in Assam and all over India,” he said.

Mistry, the Congress’s minder for Uttar Pradesh, is expected to file his nomination on Saturday while Modi might do so on the last day, April 9.