Rahul Gandhi accuses chief opponent Modi of 'abetting' riots
NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's Rahul Gandhi attacked the chief opponent of his embattled Congress party on Monday by accusing his regional government of 'abetting' religious riots in 2002.
Mr Gandhi's charge injected a tense new element into a general election campaign that has so far focused mainly on the economy and corruption. Indians are due to vote by May in what many see as a direct contest between Mr Gandhi and Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi.
Mr Modi's record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat has been overshadowed by the riots 12 years ago in which Hindu mobs killed at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Rights groups and political rivals have long alleged he allowed or actively encouraged the attacks. Mr Modi has always denied this, and a Supreme Court inquiry found no evidence to prosecute him.
"The government in Gujarat was actually abetting and pushing the riots further," Mr Gandhi told Times Now television in a rare interview, adding that Mr Modi was responsible because he was chief minister of Gujarat at the time.