Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday launched a blistering attack on the Narendra Modi government, scoffing at the Chief Minister’s claims of unprecedented development in Gujarat.

Addressing election rallies in the tribal dominated south Gujarat’s Mandvi and agrarian Saurashtra region, Ms. Gandhi charged the government with misusing thousands of crores of Central funds.

“The UPA government has been allocating thousands of crore to various States, including Gujarat, without any bias. But nobody knows how this money is spent [in Gujarat]. They are not bothered about the poor. They are only concerned about themselves,” she said.

Ms. Gandhi covered areas that will go to the polls in the first phase on December 13. This is the same region where she had made her infamous “maut ka saudagar” statement in the run-up to the 2007 Assembly polls, giving Mr. Modi the opportunity to rake up the Hindutva issue. This time around, Ms. Gandhi was careful not to hand over any political advantage.

At Mandvi, knowing well that south Gujarat is a Congress stronghold, Ms. Gandhi attempted to touch an emotion chord, saying,: “Our critics are trying to drive a wedge between you and our party, but they have failed. I salute your commitment and honesty and refuse to fall prey to such misleading campaign.”

The UPA government had waived loans of debt-ridden farmers, but their condition in Gujarat had not changed because of the policies of the State government, Ms. Gandhi said. She wondered where had all the money that the Modi government promised under the Van Bandhu scheme had gone since no development was visible in the tribal regions.

At a public meeting in Keshod, she asserted, “the unfortunate fact is that those who promised the moon and came to power did nothing towards improvement of irrigation projects in Saurashtra. Now this is election time and these people again come to you with tall promises.”