Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched his party’s campaign for the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly elections with a roadshow in Coimbatore, where he alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had no respect for the state’s people, language and culture.

Gandhi said the prime minister believed that the people of Tamil Nadu should be subservient to his culture and ideas. “His [Modi’s] perception of ‘New India’ is that people of Tamil Nadu should be second-class citizens in this country,” Gandhi said. “There are multiple different languages, histories and cultures in this country. We feel all languages – Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, English – all have a space in this country.”

The Congress leader added that the matter of language and culture was the “central fight” between the prime minister and his party. Gandhi also said that Tamil Nadu was like family to him, NDTV reported. “My relationship with Tamil Nadu is always like a family, out of trust and honesty,” he said. “I am not here for any selfish interest.”

At his roadshow, Gandhi also hit out at the Centre over the farmers’ protest. “What belongs to farmers is being taken away,” he was quoted as saying by NDTV. “That’s why we stand with farmers. PM Modi partners with big businessmen in India.”

Earlier in the day, Gandhi met the representatives of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the city. He will go to Tirupur to speak to industrial workers. During his three-day visit to Tamil Nadu, Gandhi will also campaign in Erode and Karur districts.