Rahul Gandhi, frontman for India's ruling Congress party, yesterday warned that the country faces religious turmoil if the opposition Hindu nationalist party wins power.
Rahul said majority Hindus would be pitted against minority Muslims if hardliner Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clinched power -- as widely predicted -- during the marathon six-week ballot starting on Monday.
"Wherever these people (BJP) go they create fights. They'll pit Hindus and Muslims against each other," he told a rally in the town of Sirsa 250 kilometres from New Delhi.
"We walk with everybody, be it Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians. We walk with people from all communities, castes, religions and regions and that is our politics," said Gandhi, the 43-year-old scion of India's famous political dynasty.
"We don't do politics of anger and division," Rahul said, as he implored voters to back Congress, which looks set for a crushing defeat at the polls after a decade in power.
The Congress vice-president Rahul also launched a scathing attack on opposition BJP over its "double-standard" attitude towards corruption.
Rahul, referring to re-induction of tainted former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa into BJP, said the opposition leaders rake up the corruption issue in states other than those ruled by themselves.
"They (BJP leaders) go to Karnataka and give big speeches there. They bring (B S) Yeddyurappa, who was the Karnataka chief minister and remained in jail, to stage and then say they are against corruption...," he said while canvassing for party state unit president and candidate from Sirsa Lok Sabha seat Ashok Tanwar.
Voting will begin in the two remote northeastern states of Assam and Tripura for 5 LOk Sabha seats, before spreading across the country of 814 million eligible voters in a staggered process. Results are due on May 16.