Indian democracy is at a crossroads and people must choose the secular Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance over the divisive Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said at a public meeting here on Friday evening. Targeting the BJP-Sena alliance at the rally venue, a half-an-hour’s drive from the RSS headquarters, Ms. Gandhi said this election was different from, and more important than, previous elections. “On one side, there are people who want communal harmony and there are those on the other side who want to pit brother against brother,” she said at the meeting on the outskirts of this bustling city.

The Congress president said her party was committed to creating an “open society.”

NCP leader Sharad Pawar called for a background check on Mr. Modi, whom he held responsible for the 2002 Gujarat riots. Ms. Gandhi saidNaxalite violence could be addressed through industrialisation.

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