The district collector of Puri has issued a show-cause notice to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Puri candidate for the Lok Sabha elections, Sambit Patra, for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct at a rally, OdishaTV reported on Wednesday. Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases on April 11, April 18, April 23 and April 29.

The Congress had on Tuesday lodged a complaint with the state’s chief electoral officer saying the BJP spokesperson violated norms by carrying an idol of Hindu deity Jagannath in a vehicle during an election rally, PTI reported.

In a petition submitted to the chief electoral officer, the Congress said, “In an election rally, Patra showed and held the idol of Lord Jagannath in his hand and used the photographs of the deity in his social media account.”

“When it has been mentioned by the ECI that no election can be fought on the basis of any religion, caste, creed or culture, the election rally of Sambit Patra and the photograph thereof clearly shows the violation of model code of conduct,” Odisha Congress spokesperson Nishikant Mishra was quoted as saying.

Patra has rejected the allegations and said that someone gifted the idol to him during the rally. “Someone gifted me the idol of the Lord during the rally. I held it and paid respect to it,” Patra said. “There is nothing wrong in showing respect to my Lord. I am not bothered about what others are saying. Don’t link it with elections.”