Hindu hardliner Narendra Modi yesterday accused India's ruling Congress party of failing Muslims as his own party battled claims of fuelling religious tensions.
Modi, who is tipped to win power on a promise of reviving the country's battered economy and creating jobs, also urged voters to give him a strong mandate during the marathon six-week ballot which starts on Monday.
"The problems that have plagued in you in the past 60 years, I will get rid of all those problems in just 60 months," Modi told thousands of cheering supporters in Uttar Pradesh.
Modi accused Congress president and Rahul's mother Sonia Gandhi of failing to deliver on pledges to improve the lives of Muslims, who at 13 percent of the population are India's largest religious minority.
"Madam Sonia, nearly 700 (communal) riots happened in the country in one year right under your nose. And 250 of those were in UP (Uttar Pradesh) alone," said Modi.
Modi, the 63-year-old son of a tea-stall owner, has focused on economic reform and creating jobs, largely steering clear of promoting any Hindu nationalist agenda.
But he has been tainted by religious riots in 2002 in the western state of Gujarat which he has governed since 2001. The riots there killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. He has been cleared of any personal wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, in its ten-year rule, Congress-led governments have only given price-rise, corruption and misrule to the people, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said at a rally in Faridabad on Sunday.
Swaraj attacked the Congress-led governments at Centre and Haryana while addressing a poll meeting here appealing people to vote for BJP candidate from Faridabad Krishnapal Gujrar.
“Congress ministers are competing to commit bigger scams and corruption. Sriprakash Jaiswal, accused in the coal scam, has been awarded the ticket for Kanpur Lok Sabha seat,” she told the gathering.