“Without Hindus and Muslims fighting, their writ will not run in U.P.”

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi blamed the BJP for the riots in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district in August. “The BJP feels that without Hindus and Muslims fighting, their writ will not run in U.P. ... You lit the fire, now who will douse it?” the Gandhi family scion said at a rally in Indore.

Mr. Gandhi, an MP from Amethi in U.P., repeated the allegation he had made in Churu on Wednesday — that riot victims were getting radicalised. “A police officer told me that 10 to 15 people, who had lost their brothers and sisters in the Muzaffarnagar riots, wanted to go to Pakistan. They are talking to the intelligence agency of Pakistan. The officer said he is trying to talk to them to convince them not to go.”

He added that the Congress would douse the flames of hatred. “Our work is to make people talk to each other, embrace each other and promote brotherhood,” he told party workers gathered at the Dussehra Grounds in Indore.

Targeting the ruling BJP on the issue of unemployment, Mr. Gandhi said, “If the youth here want jobs, want Indore to be a commercial capital, then you need a new government. We made Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad commercial capitals and we connected them to the rest of the world ... It has been 10 years, but BJP has been unable to make Indore a commercial capital and to tell you the truth, they are not capable of doing so.”

In another rally in Rahatgarh, in the Sagar district of M.P.’s Bundelkhand region, the Congress vice president targeted the BJP for wasting central grants for irrigation. Bundelkhand, a region which extends across U.P. and M.P., faced drought in 2007-2008 that led to large scale migration.

“Centre sent funds for building wells but it was wasted ... Centre helped Bundelkhand in the past and will continue to do so. Congress will win and form a government of common men, women and youth and it will have the voice of Bundelkhand.”

Mr. Gandhi’s speech was seen as an attempt to placate the demands of Statehood for the region.

Shivraj hits back

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan hit back at Mr. Gandhi on Twitter. Citing a news report that termed Indore as one of India’s top business destinations, he tweeted: “When Congress VP says that Indore is deprived of development and businesses, he needs to do his homework better.”