Rahul Gandhi and chief minister Narendra Modi sparred on Tuesday after the Congress leader invoked Mahatma Gandhi, as the Gujarat war hotted up on the last day of campaigning for the first phase of the assembly elections.
The AICC General Secretary's attendance in Lok Sabha was also questioned by Modi after he lamented the short duration of Assembly sessions in Gujarat.
"If I have any 'guru' in politics, then he is Gandhiji," Rahul said at a rally in Jamnagar, making his maiden appearance in the Gujarat poll campaign.
"Gandhiji had one simple rule that voice of not only every Indian, but for that matter voice of everyone in the world should be heard, whether that person is poor or rich, short or long. That person may be of any region, religion or caste, his voice should be respected," the AICC General Secretary said.
Modi wasted little time in taking on Rahul after the Congress leader's comments on Gandhi.
"If Rahul Baba is walking on Gandhiji's path, why is Bapu's 1 wish incomplete - to disband Congress after Independence?," the BJP leader said on microblogging site Twitter.
The two-phase election is being held on December 13 and 17. Counting of votes will be taken up on December 20.
The Chief Minister also referred to Rahul's remarks on Mahatma Gandhi at his rallies.
"Rahul Baba said he was walking on Gandhiji's path but if he is actually walking on it, then one wish of Mahatma Gandhi would not have been left incomplete, which was to disband the Congress after Independence," he said.
On another issue, the Congress leader claimed that even opposition's voice is curbed in Gujarat as the Assembly sits for just 25 days in a year and very often opposition leaders are "thrown" out of the House.
"For how many days does the Assembly session take place in Gujarat? For 25 days in a year. You say your vote is your voice and Assembly session takes place for 25 days in a year.
"Even during those days, Opposition leaders are thrown out because the state government fears they will ask tough questions," he alleged.
Countering the Congress leader, Modi tweeted, "Mr Rahul Gandhi talks of respect for Vidhan Sabha but his own attendance in Lok Sabha between May 2011-May 2012 was 24 out of 85 sittings."
Reacting to Rahul's allegations that the state Legislative Assembly did business only for 25 days in a year, Modi, the Maninagar MLA said at a rally, "From May 2011 to May 2012, Rahul Gandhi's attendance in the Lok Sabha was 24 out of 85 sittings. From 2010 to 2011, it was 19 out of 72 sittings!"
"If he had respect for the Parliament, he would go for all sittings!" he said.
If Rahul Gandhi had so much love for the Vidhan Sabha, he should know that in Gujarat, the Assembly has debated issues even for days on end but the attitude of the Congress has not been positive, Modi said.
"We discuss issues for many days and Bills are passed. But sadly Congress does not respect Vidhan Sabha also," he said.
"After detailed discussions in the Vidhan Sabha, the files are sent to the Raj Bhavan for Governor's signature," Modi said, adding that Raj Bhavan has been "converted to Congress Bhavan" by the Congress party.
At another rally, Modi said, "Today Rahul Gandhi came and said he had a close relation with Mahatma Gandhi. But he was not even born then."
On Rahul's narration of Mahatma Gandhi sleeping on the floor in Anand Bhawan in Allahabad, Modi said, "It was Mahatma Gandhi's greatness and his affection towards Nehru that he slept on the floor but the real issue is that Motilal Nehru slept on the bed when his son was in jail. You are descendants of Motilal."