New Delhi: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra raised a sharp criticism against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP while marking her protest against the disqualification of her brother Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha here on Sunday. Defending Rahul Gandhi, she pointed out that a martyred prime minister's son who walked thousands of kilometres for national unity can never insult the country.
She was referring to her father and late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated in 1991.
Priyanka Gandhi said the time had come to raise voice against an "arrogant government" as barring Rahul Gandhi from contesting elections does not bode well for the country and its democracy.
"My family's blood has nurtured democracy in this country. We are ready to do anything for this country's democracy. Great leaders of Congress laid the foundation of democracy in this country. If they think they can scare us, they are wrong. We will not be scared," she said.
The Congress leader alleged that Rahul Gandhi was disqualified for questioning the prime minister on industrialist Gautam Adani, and said people will give a befitting reply to those behind the action.
Congress workers across the country on Sunday organised Sankalp Satyagraha" to protest against Rahul's disqualification, with party president Mallikarjun Kharge lashing out at the ruling BJP and asking why it is pained if fugitives such as Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi are criticised.
While in Delhi, the police denied permission to the Congress to hold its protest programme at Rajghat, the police in Gujarat detained several party functionaries for holding the stir.
In the national capital, the Congress put up a stage outside Mahatma Gandhi's memorial for its day-long protest programme after the permission was denied.
Rahul Gandhi is fighting for the people: Kharge
Slamming the BJP over its charge that Rahul Gandhi insulted OBCs with his remark for which he has been convicted in a criminal defamation case, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said why is the ruling party pained if fugitives such as Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi are criticised.
Kharge also thanked all Opposition parties for standing with Rahul Gandhi and the Congress to save democracy.
"They talk of OBC now, is Lalit Modi OBC, is Nirav Modi OBC, is Mehul Choksi OBC, they ran away with people's money. If they are fugitives why are you pained if they are criticised. You (BJP) punish the person who works to save country and send those abroad who loot country," Kharge said.
"Rahul Gandhi ji is fighting for the people of this country, for the women, for the youth, fighting against unemployment and inflation," he said.
Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha on Friday, a day after a court in Gujarat's Surat convicted him in a 2019 defamation case. The disqualification will prevent Gandhi (52), a four-time MP, from contesting elections for eight years unless a higher court stays the conviction.
Congress workers in many states and union territories like Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat took part in the protest programme.
In Gujarat, the police detained state Congress chief Jagdish Thakor, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Amit Chavda and senior leader Bharatsinh Solanki along with party workers when they arrived at Lal Darwaza in Ahmedabad to protest.
The protesters were taken to the police stadium where they continued to shout slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"We have the power of Truth and resolution of Satyagraha. To expose the loot of BJP, with a firm determination to protect democracy, each and every worker of Gujarat Pradesh Congress is with Rahul Gandhi," Thakor tweeted.
"Even before we could start the programme, the police detained us. We will continue our protest against the dictatorship of the BJP government, which puts even the erstwhile British rule to shame," said Vadodara Congress party leader Rutvij Joshi.
In Srinagar, scores of party activists led by former JKPCC president Ghulam Ahmad Mir protested at the party's headquarter at M A Road.
Speaking to reporters, Mir said not only Congress party, but all non-BJP secular parties have come together, and are wailing over the death of democracy in the country.
The BJP government has not left any sign of the Constitution in the country, all the steps it takes are illegal and undemocratic, he charged.
The Punjab and Haryana units of Congress also observed the satyagraha.
Punjab Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring alleged that the action against Rahul Gandhi was taken because the BJP-led Centre was "scared" of his next speech in Parliament on the Adani issue.
Warring said a "tearing hurry" was shown by the Lok Sabha Secretariat in disqualifying Rahul Gandhi allegedly at the behest of the BJP-led government.
Haryana Congress chief Udai Bhan said Rahul Gandhi has been raising his voice against the BJP-led Centre on various issues."They want to silence his voice, but they are mistaken," he said.
Charging that institutions are being attacked in the country, Punjab's Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa said it is time for "all democratic forces to get together".
In Congress ruled Rajasthan, the party's state unit chief Govind Singh Dotasra, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas and several other leaders took part in the protest.
Dubbing Gandhi's disqualification as a "murder of democracy", Dotasra charged that the BJP labels anyone who raises their voice against it as "anti-nationals" and distorts their public image through social media.
"Rahul Gandhi is someone whose grandmother and father sacrificed their lives for the sake of the nation," he added.
(With PTI inputs)