Rahul Gandhi, whose grandmother and father were both assassinated when he was a child, has warned that he too could be slain, as he accused his election rivals of sparking "communal fire".
The 43-year-old, expected to lead the ruling Congress party into next year's polls, also told a rally on Wednesday of how he had been friends with the bodyguards who killed his grandmother Indira when she was the prime minister.
"My grandmother and father were assassinated and tomorrow I also may get killed; but I just don't care," Rahul, who is vice-president of Congress, said in a strikingly personal speech in the northern state of Rajasthan.
The notoriously shy Gandhi has often appeared reluctant to follow in his forebears' footsteps but now seems to be opening up about his personal tragedy as an election tactic against the Hindu national opposition.
Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 in revenge for an army assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, while Rajiv was assassinated in 1991 by Tamil suicide bombers. "What does the BJP do? They spark communal fire .... Then we have to go to the people to put the fire out," said Gandhi in excerpts shown on Indian television.
"It takes years to forget anger but it takes only minutes to ignite anger within someone."
Opinion polls show that Congress is likely to lose power in the elections due by next May with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opening up a commanding lead. The BJP's candidate for prime minister is Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat.AFP