Jamnagar/Ahmedabad: Two days ahead of the voting in the first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday took potshots at each other.
Rahul Gandhi fired the first salvo at a rally in Jamnagar, his first in the state.
"The voice of the common man is not heard in Gujarat. The chief minister wants to listen only to his own voice. He has his own dreams which he thinks of implementing. On the other hand, a true political leader implements dreams of the populace," he said.
"There is no democracy in this land of Mahatma Gandhi. The assembly barely functions for 25 days in a year. Even when it functions, the members of the opposition are thrown out, fearing that they would expose the wrongdoings of the government," Rahul Gandhi said in Jamnagar, 300 km from Ahmedabad, the state's main city adjoining capital Gandhinagar.
"Gujarat does not have a Lokayukta. RTI (Right to Information) applications are not accepted. Because the voice of the people is not heard here," he said.
Rahul Gandhi said the power of Gujarat was in its youth and its poor but that strength was being suppressed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Gujarat is not run by one man but by the people of the state. Gujarat is shining but here you get water for 25 minutes every third day and 10 lakh youths are jobless," he said.
Praising the Congress-led central government for bringing the RTI Act, he said corruption cases in Gujarat would have remained hidden had it not been for RTI.
"People talk of corruption. We implemented RTI because we wanted to give voice to the common man," he said.
"We gave the tribals their land back. We gave food to the hungry," he added.
Modi was quick to respond to Rahul's allegations.
Reacting to Rahul Gandhi's allegation that the state legislative assembly did business only for 25 days in a year, Modi said: "From May 2011 to May 2012, Rahul Gandhi's attendance in the Lok Sabha was 24 out of 85 sittings. From 2010 to 2011, it was 19 out of 72 sittings."
"If he had respect for parliament, he would have gone for all sittings," Modi said.
"If Rahul Gandhi had so much love for the Vidhan Sabha, he should know that in Gujarat the assembly has debated issues for days on end but the attitude of the Congress has not been positive," Modi said.
"We discuss issues for many days and bills are passed. But sadly the Congress does not respect the Vidhan Sabha also," he said.
"After detailed discussions in the Vidhan Sabha, files are sent to Raj Bhavan for the governor's signature," Modi said, adding that Raj Bhavan had been "converted to Congress Bhavan" by the party.
"Today Rahul Gandhi said he was closely related to Mahatma Gandhi. He was not even born then (when Mahatma Gandhi was alive)," Modi said at the rally.
He later posted on micro-blogging site Twitter: "If Rahul baba is walking on Gandhiji's path, why is Bapu's first wish incomplete: to disband the Congress after independence?"
On Rahul Gandhi's narration of Mahatma Gandhi sleeping on the floor in Anand Bhavan in Allahabad, Modi said: "It was Mahatma Gandhi's greatness and his affection towards (Jawaharlal) Nehru that he slept on the floor. But the real issue is that Motilal Nehru slept on the bed when his son (Jawaharlal Nehru) was in jail."
Referring to Rahul Gandhi, Modi added: "You are descendants of Motilal."
After Jamnagar, Gandhi also addressed rallies at Amreli and Sanand on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Gujarat goes to polls Dec 13 and 17. The results will be out Dec 20.