India's Modi steps up offensive a week before Delhi polls

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gestures as he adresses a public rally in New Delhi on Jan 31, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gestures as he adresses a public rally in New Delhi on Jan 31, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up an offensive against Delhi opponent and anti-graft campaigner Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday, a week before India's capital holds state elections.

The state, which has some 13 million eligible voters, heads to the polls on Feb 7, with results due on Feb 10.

Delhi has been without a government for almost a year after self-styled "anarchist" Kejriwal quit as state chief minister last February, just 49 days after taking power.

He is now again seeking the capital's top post, with most opinion polls showing him in the lead ahead of the candidate for Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former high-ranking policewoman Kiran Bedi.

Modi made Kejriwal the main target of Saturday's campaign speech, blasting him as a "backstabber" who "committed the sin of wasting a year in Delhi".

"A year ago, Delhi voted with a hope, a dream. But the people you voted for stabbed you in the back and shattered all your dreams," said Modi, who came to national power with a landslide election victory in May.

Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party made a spectacular debut in state elections in December 2013, but he quit Delhi's top post in a row over an anti-corruption bill - a decision he has since said he regretted.

The upstart party flopped in May's general election, but Kejriwal once again represents the major obstacle to the BJP's electoral hopes in Delhi.

Modi's attack came hours after Kejriwal's party unveiled a 70-point election manifesto vowing affordable electricity, free wifi across Delhi and the installation of a million CCTV cameras in the city, which has been dubbed India's "rape capital".

Modi has not yet released his party manifesto, but he used Saturday's speech to highlight government initiatives including better housing for slum-dwellers, cash subsidies for cooking gas and creating jobs in manufacturing.

The premier also promised Delhi voters round-the-clock electricity when he kicked off his party's campaign in the capital earlier this month.