The police on Sunday arrested a Samajwadi Party MP and three legislators, including independent MLA from Kunda Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya, for allegedly threatening a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate contesting block-level elections.
Pratapgarh superintendent of police OP Sagar said BSP candidate Manoj Shukla lodged a complaint against 13 persons, including the leaders, accusing them of attempt to murder, rioting and kidnapping.
The police have arrested 11 of those named in the FIR so far. They were produced in court and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
Kaushambi MP Shailendra Kumar, Raja Bhaiyya, an SP ally, Bihar (Pratapgarh) MLA Vinod Saroj, MLC Akshay Pratap Singh and the others were held in pre-dawn raids.
The district police chief said an FIR was also registered against the BSP candidate and the charges were being probed.
Sagar said, "Supporters of Raja Bhaiyya and the BSP clashed in Kunda and other places in Pratapgarh. Several people were injured in the clashes." He added, "Raja Bhaiyya's supporters kidnapped three BSP supporters of whom two are yet to be found."
Raja Bhaiyya's supporters ransacked the Kunda police station after his arrest, he said.
Police force has been deployed in Kunda and at other sensitive spots in Pratapgarh to maintain law and order.
During Mayawati's previous stint as chief minister, Raja Bhaiyya was arrested under the Gangster Act and jailed in 2002. The following year he was also charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (repealed by the Centre in 2004) while in jail. Pratapgarh has been volatile since notification of the block election by the state election commission.
Leaders of the opposition parties have accused the ruling BSP of misusing the administrative machinery in the run-up to polling day on December 22.
Stung by the arrests, the SP announced it would organise protest rallies against the state government on Monday. Shivpal Singh Yadav, leader of the opposition in the assembly, told the media, "The party will not tolerate the administrative terrorism being perpetrated by the Mayawati government." He accused the government of misusing the state police as an appendage of the BSP.