Ashok Sahu, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for Orissa's Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency, was booked for delivering an inflammatory speech at a public meeting in the region where 38 people, most of them Christians, were killed during communal violence last year, police said Saturday.
"We have registered a case against Sahu. The matter is under investigation," S. Praveen Kumar, district superintendent of police, told IANS.
Sahu made the provocative speech at a public meeting at Raikia town April 5. He allegedly accused the church of indulging in conversion. He also allegedly claimed that Congress Rajya Sabha MP Radhakanta Nayak was using foreign money to spread Christianity.
The Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram on Aug 23, 2008.
At least 38 people were killed in the state and more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. At least 3,170 people are still living in government relief camps.
Sahu, linked to the VHP, had also made similar remarks during the communal violence last year. Christian leaders had immediately refuted the allegations.
While Sahu is contesting the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has also nominated Manoj Pradhan, an accused in the riots, for the assembly election from G. Udayagiri constituency in the district.
Pradhan was arrested about four months ago and is still in jail.