Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a blistering attack on Narendra Modi, slamming him for his roots in the Rashtriya Syawamsevak Sangh "whose ideology killed Mahatma Gandhi" and debunking his claims of development in Gujarat.
Congress's chief campaigner for Lok Sabha elections also accused Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, of "empowering himself" and his disregard for transparency in governance.
"He (Modi) has spent his entire life in RSS and has nothing to do with the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. Its (RSS') ideology killed the Mahatma and Patel proposed to ban it after that," Rahul said addressing a rally in Bardoli.
Targeting Modi over his alleged attempts to 'appropriate' Patel's legacy by constructing the 'Statue of Unity' of India's first Home Minister, billed to be the world's tallest, he said, "Patel had called RSS a poisonous ideology which will destroy India's soul. Patel devoted his life to Congress and the poor.
"They (BJP leaders) don't even think about what Patel's ideology was. Never read about him. Never try to understand him and now they want to build his statue," he said.
Patel had successfully led Bardoli Satyagrah in 1928 against 30 per cent increase in taxes on farmers of the region ravaged by drought.
Rahul, apparently seeking to contain an adverse political fallout of senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's 'chai wala' jibe against Modi, said all people should be respected but attacked the Gujarat chief minister for repeated reference to his humble origin.
"The whole country does something or the other. One makes tea, the other drives taxi and another does farming. We should respect all but not the one who makes fool of people," he said.
Taking on Modi over Gujarat model of development, which he is showcasing in his prime ministerial bid, and corruption, Rahul said," BJP leaders tour the country and say corruption is here and corruption is there. But, they can't see it here. Can't they see the corruption in Gujarat?"
"How many convicted ministers are there in Gujarat?" he asked the crowd, which shouted "three".
The Congress vice president said UPA brought RTI and Lokpal to root out corruption and accused BJP of not cooperating with the government for passage of six anti-graft legislations.
"Six anti-corruption bills are pending to be passed in Parliament. But these six bills are not being passed. Three to four times I have told them if you are really against corruption, pass these bills just like you passed the Lokpal bill. Congress party wants to pass these bills but why are you running away? Talk to us on these bills," he said.
"For nine years attempts were made to stall the appointment of Lokayukta. Rs 40 crore was wasted (in fighting cases)," he said, apparently referring to the prolonged stand-off between Modi and Governor Kamla Beniwal over the choice of citizen's ombudsman and the resultant legal tussle.
"We brought the RTI but how many information commissioners are there in Gujarat? Just one, and that too following a court directive," he said.
The Congress leader referred to the Rs 70,000 crore farm loan waiver by the UPA government to attack Modi under whom, he alleged, 6000 farmers had committed suicide in Gujarat.
"While we talk of eradicating poverty, they are eliminating the poor," he said, taking a dig at Modi.
"44,000 Sikh farmers in Gujarat face the threat of being dispossessed of their land and their representatives met me crying. Why their (BJP's) ally Shiromani Akali Dal is saying nothing," he asked.