Urging his opponents to be creative, in a constituency where former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s nephew is contesting, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi urged the poor and the backward classes to puncture the balloon of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘Gujarat Model’. He was addressing a packed ground on Wednesday, despite arriving three hours late in this town, 465 km north of Bhopal.

“In six months, we came up with a terrific manifesto because we came to you to decide what should be in it. What does the BJP do when it needs a manifesto? It picks up ours and simply sticks a lotus symbol and a few pictures,” said Mr. Gandhi. He asked the BJP to come up with its own work and not steal the Congress’. He also targeted the party and its ideological guide, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is open only for males, for their alleged misogyny.

“When we gave 33 per cent reservation to women in panchayats, the BJP opposed it. Now the women’s reservation bill in the Lok Sabha is being stopped by the Opposition,” he told the crowd.

The Congress has fielded six-time MLA Govind Singh, who has gone all out to attract Dalits and Kushwaha OBCs to supplement his Rajput base.

Before garlanding Mr. Gandhi at the end of the rally, the 63-year-old Mr. Singh bowed before him. “How can I bless you, you should bless me,” said Mr. Gandhi before placing Mr. Singh’s palm on his head.