NEW DELHI - Indian frontrunner for prime minister Narendra Modi taunted the Gandhi political dynasty on its home turf Monday, saying “nothing” could rescue the ruling Congress party from defeat.

Congress has ruled India for most of the period since independence from Britain in 1947 and is synonymous with the Nehru-Gandhi clan which has provided the country with three leaders.

Modi - a Hindu nationalist hardliner - called on voters in the northern constituency of Amethi, represented by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, to “break ties with the (Gandhi) family” over a lack of basic amenities as the crowd roared approval.

“These people (the Gandhis) have destroyed three generations in Amethi,” Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said. “But good days are coming,” Modi, 63, said as India’s marathon election heads into its final stretch.

Modi’s rally in Rahul’s constituency, a poor wheat-growing region, was significant as no top leader usually campaigns in the political backyard of a top rival.

Modi, a fiery orator, told voters “nothing can save the Congress government now”. Rahul, who’s spearheading the flailing Congress campaign, has represented Amethi for a decade.

During previous decades, other members of his family, including his father, Rajiv Gandhi who was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991, have held the constituency, 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of Delhi. But opinion polls now predict the scandal-tainted Congress government is heading for its worst-ever defeat when election results come on May 16.

Rahul’s younger sister, Priyanka, seen as more politically able, has swung into action in Amethi to help her lacklustre brother win votes. Analysts, however, say her appearance has come too late to rescue the party and perhaps even her brother in his constituency.

Rahul’s achievements over 10 years of representing his 1.2 million constituents are being questioned by critics. “The roads are bad, water is scarce and power fluctuates - not much has changed in the last 10 years,” Amethi school teacher Arun Singh told AFP last month.

Rahul, 43, was groomed for the leading role by his mother, Italian-born Sonia, president of the Congress party. Modi jibed Monday “all that training has gone down the drain”. “Voters have already fired the mother-son government.”

Modi promised Amethi development, strong leadership and a clean government that would help farmers and businesses. Priyanka later hit back at Modi, saying he “insulted” the Gandhi family “on the soil of Amethi”.

The BJP has named as its Amethi candidate a popular former TV personality, Smriti Trani, who made her name playing a housewife in an award-winning soap opera.

Despite his popularity on the hustings, Modi is seen by some as a deeply polarising figure due to his Hindu nationalist rhetoric and failure to swiftly curb deadly 2002 anti-Muslim riots that swept Gujarat during his early years as chief minister of the prosperous western state.