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Kejriwal detention in Gujarat sparks protest

NEW DELHI: Indian police briefly detained firebrand anti-corruption champion Arvind Kejriwal for holding a political roadshow without permission as the country’s election campaign got into gear, a party official said.
Kejriwal was taken to a police station in the western town of Radhanpur after arriving in the state run by opposition prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and just hours after national elections were announced.
The 44-year-old, who had been planning a days-long political tour of Modi’s Gujarat state, was briefly detained for failing to adhere to an election code of conduct that requires prior police permission.
“Kejriwal did not have permission for a rally or procession, hence was detained for violation of code of conduct which came into force from today,” the senior magistrate of the local district said.
Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party slammed the temporary detention as “high-handed behavior” after India announced the start of elections on April 7 that Modi is expected to win.
“We strongly object to this high-handed behavior by the political establishment in Gujarat,” senior leader Kumar Vishwas said.
“He was not there to hold any election rally. He had only gone there to watch and observe the development that Modi is claiming has taken place in the state,” Vishwas told AFP.
“Why is he being harassed then?”
Kejriwal, whose stunning breakthrough in the Delhi state elections in December highlighted public anger towards the political establishment, is taking on the major parties at the election.
His party, formed just over a year ago from widespread anger about corruption, is hoping to win some 100 seats in the 543-member parliament when results are announced on May 16.
Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat since 2001, has portrayed himself as a pro-business reformer who wants to replicate his state’s economic development at the national level.