Lucknow, Jan 13 (Agencies): A month after he allegedly raped a teenaged dalit girl, absconding ruling BSP MLA Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi was on Thursday arrested in Banda district but the opposition dubbed it as stage managed.

48-year-old Dwivedi, who represents Naraini seat in Uttar Pradesh Assembly, was on the run after orders for his arrest were issued on Wednesday in connection with the alleged criminal assault on the 17-year-old girl belonging to the backward community.

The legislator was arrested in Banda, about 220 kms from here, police sources said.

"Ironically the MLA had been camping Lucknow for the past two days meeting his BSP bosses when the state officials were making an announcment that he would be arrested soon and went into hiding soon after that," Vivek Singh, Congress MLA, claimed in Banda.

Sources claimed the MLA was arrested from Augasi bridge and later brought to the Kotwali Dehat and would be produced in the court on Friday.

Congress spokesman Subodh Srivastava alleged that Dwivedi was being shielded by Mayawati government and it was only because of pressure from visits by the delegations from Delhi including the National Commission for Women that the state government was forced to arrest the legislator.

The girl was allegedly raped on December 10-11 at the legislators's residence. She escaped from the MLA's house on December 12 when the MLA allegedly attempted rape for the third time and was arrested same day on theft charges.

She told her brother about the incident when she was produced before the court on December 24 in connection with theft charges.

Girl levelled the rape charge before the court on January 10 and it ordered immediate action.

CB-CID submitted a preliminary report and subsequently the state government on Wednesday ordered arrest of the MLA and an FIR was lodged against him.

His two aides --Rajendra Shukla and Surendra Neta-- were arrested in Banda district on Wednesday following an FIR against them and were remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by a Banda court. The third accused Ravan Garg is still absconding.
 
In Lucknow, Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh, when faced with a volley of questions from reporters on the whereabouts of the BSP MLA, hinted that the legislator had been traced.

"There will be no need for you to ask this question. Give us a little more time," he said.

He said that no one is being a clean chit including the policemen and promised stern action will be taken against all those found guilty of either the crime or of shielding the culprits.

UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna alleged the incident showed how the Mayawati government has been protecting criminals.

In Delhi, Women and Child Development minister Krishna Tirath said she would write to the Union Home Ministry for taking appropriate action.

BJP's Smriti Irani said, "It is appalling the way the Mayawati administration tries to hide his crime." She demanded immediate justice for the girl.

In Delhi, CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said the Mayawati government should ensure that the MLA gets convicted and the theft case against the girl is immediately withdrawn and she is freed.

Terming it as a face-saving exercise by the Mayawati Government, state BJP spokesman Vijay Pathak claimed that the the MLA had himself walked into the police station.

SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said the "whole drama" was enacted due to mounting pressure.

Terming the arrest of MLA as well as his accomplice in crime as inadequate, the leaders also demanded the immediate release of the victim who is still in jail

On Wednesday, a case of rape was registered against the MLA, suspended by the party in the wake of the allegations, and his three aides in the case after the state CB-CID submitted its preliminary report in the case.

"On the directive of the Chief Minister, a case o rape has been registered against the MLA and his three aides," the Cabinet Secretary had said.

He, however, said the theft charge on which the girl was arrested was found to be true.