A 21-year-old journalism student who had accused Congress MLA from Madhya Pradesh’s Ater, Hemant Katare, of abducting and raping her said on Thursday that the allegations were false.

In an affidavit filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, she claimed that she was used as a “political tool” by Bharatiya Janata Party member and state vice president Arvind Bhadoria, The Times of India reported. Katare had defeated Bhadoria in an Assembly bye-election in April 2017.

On January 24, the Bhopal Police arrested the student for allegedly demanding Rs 2 crore from Katare and then attempting to collect the first installment of Rs 5 lakh. Katare claimed that the woman had been calling him since January 17, threatening to file rape charges if he did not pay Rs 2 crore.

When she was in jail, she accused Katare of rape, and in February, the police booked the MLA for rape, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation based on the woman’s complaint.

“I would like to confess that the allegations levelled by me in the said FIR are completely false and fabricated and have been levelled because I was deeply agonised by the persecution and harassment in jail,” she wrote in the affidavit, according to The New Indian Express. “I was told that levying allegations on MLA Hemant Katare was the only way by which I could get bail in the extortion and blackmailing case.”

She also claimed that she was harassed while in judicial custody in January 2018 for refusing to make allegations of abduction and rape against Katare. “I apologise for having levelled false allegations, I fear that on my stating the truth that I’m now making public, these influential people like Arvind Bhadoria can cause grave harm to me and my family and can even get me and family members murdered,” she wrote. “I seek mercy for my wrongdoings.”

She further said: “These people tried to portray as if they had sympathy for me. However, they made me level false allegations for their own personal gains and benefits. As a matter of fact, I’ve been made a scapegoat for the political motives of these influential people.”

Bhadoria denied the “false and unfounded” allegations. “I am prepared for a probe by any agency...It is a conspiracy against me,” he told The Times of India. “It was Katare who accused the girl of blackmail and she was arrested. They were together at Jabalpur today. What does it show?”

Madhya Pradesh BJP spokesperson Rajpal Singh Sisodiya refused to comment as the matter is sub-judice. State Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi, however, claimed a conspiracy hatched by the ruling party has now been exposed. “The chief minister should come forward and set an example by acting against those named by the girl in the affidavit,” Chaturvedi said.