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Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 10:19 UK

Wrong rally blunder in India poll

VS Acharya, home minister of Karnataka
VS Acharya said he was just paying a courtesy visit

A minister in the Indian state of Karnataka has made a quick exit after realising he was addressing the wrong election rally.

VS Acharya, the home minister of the southern state and a Bharatiya Janata Party member, saw an opportunity to address a rally in Udupi district.

Observers said he seemed oblivious as he denounced the Congress government - in front of Congress supporters.

A sheepish Mr Acharya later said he was just paying a "courtesy visit".

In a separate incident the BJP suffered another embarrassment when a top leader called for the repeal of a law that had already been scrapped.

Restless

Police at the rally on Sunday in the coastal district of Udupi, 390km (243 miles) from Bangalore, said the senior BJP leader beat a speedy retreat when he realised his mistake.

Mr Acharya had been on his way to meet a fellow BJP activist when he noticed the rally.

The Times of India said the Congress supporters extended the courtesy expected to be afforded to a minister and offered him a seat.

Map

It said when he rose to speak Mr Acharya was still unaware of his surroundings and began by praising the achievements of the BJP government in Karnataka.

Witnesses said the Congress supporters seemed to be giving him a fair hearing until they became restless at his criticism of the Congress-led federal government.

One of the Congress workers also took exception to the bicycles being given out by the BJP as part of its election campaign.

Observers said a visibly embarrassed Mr Acharya then cut short his speech.

VS Ugrappa, a Congress leader, said Mr Acharya fled when he realised he was addressing Congress workers and not his own party men.

Mr Ugrappa said the BJP was damaging the communal atmosphere in the coastal districts of Mangalore, Udupi and Karwar.

The districts were rocked by a series of attacks on churches last October and an attack by hardline Hindu activists on women for drinking at a pub in Mangalore.

Meanwhile in Assam, top BJP leader Uma Bharati promised to do away with the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) law only to be told it had been scrapped.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says Ms Bharati promised to go on a road march to demand its removal until journalists informed her it was shelved in July 2005.



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