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Last Updated: Monday, 9 April 2007, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
BJP protests in campaign CD row
BJP protest in Lucknow
BJP supporters have held a number of protests
Police in India have refused to arrest a senior Hindu nationalist opposition leader over alleged anti-Muslim campaigning in Uttar Pradesh state.

BJP president Rajnath Singh had demanded to be taken into custody after electoral officials pressed criminal charges against him.

The row started over BJP party CDs which critics say denigrate Muslims.

India's election code bans the use of language or material that could provoke caste or religious tensions.

Voting for a new assembly in Uttar Pradesh began on Saturday and will be held in seven phases over the next five weeks.

'Big mistake'

Mr Singh and other senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, led about 2,000 party supporters to the police station at Hazratganj in the state capital. There was a heavy police presence.

When we previewed the CD we found certain scenes objectionable and asked for them to be removed
Senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon

Mr Singh says he has been wrongly implicated in the case and that he had nothing to do with the CDs.

The BJP president told police that, as they were investigating a non-bailable offence, he should be taken into custody. Police refused, saying they had no grounds to do so.

"This is not a question about the investigation in the matter but why the FIR [first information report] has been filed against me," Mr Singh told reporters.

"If an electoral officer commits a mistake, will an FIR be filed against the chief election officer?"

District police chief Jyoti Narayan said investigations were continuing: "So far we have no incriminating evidence against any individual."

Rajnath Singh is greeted by party workers in Delhi
Rajnath Singh says he has been wrongly accused

In Delhi, talks on the row at the Election Commission were postponed until Wednesday.

Last week's release of the controversial CDs brought a storm of criticism from other parties.

The BJP apologised and withdrew the CDs, admitting that releasing them had been a mistake.

A senior party leader in Uttar Pradesh, Lalji Tandon, said the CDs had been previewed before release.

"We asked for certain objectionable scenes to be removed, but the distributors did not comply with the request."

The BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi in Lucknow, who has viewed the CDs, says they contain material which many would construe as inflammatory.

They include scenes purporting to show Muslims slaughtering cows, sacred to Hindus, and others in which Muslims are described as being "pro-Pakistan".

Caste issues

Uttar Pradesh has long been India's most politically influential state.

Muslim women voters in Uttar Pradesh
Voting began in Uttar Pradesh at the weekend

It sends more MPs to the federal parliament than any other state and has produced most of India's prime ministers, including the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

But pre-election surveys suggest that the battle is between two regional socialist parties - the governing Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party - who will represent lower caste and poor communities who form a significant percentage of the electorate.

Observers say the Congress party, which leads the federal government, and the main opposition BJP both recognise the results could have a bearing on the national balance of power.

Tens of thousands of security personnel, including special forces, have been deployed in Uttar Pradesh for the election.

More than 16 million voters were eligible in the first phase of the polls, which have been staggered for logistical reasons.

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