Vowing to fight against any attempt to undermine the Constitution, Congress leaders on Saturday ratcheted up attack on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party over the National Population Register (NPR), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and amended Citizenship Act, as the party held marches in various parts of the country on its 135th foundation day.
Congress' spearheads Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed party workers and supporters in Assam and Uttar Pradesh respectively -- the two states that witnessed the most violent protests against the Citizenship Act.
The leaders alleged that those who had no contribution in the freedom struggle wanted to spread fear 'in the name of nationalism', suppress the voice of people and were questioning the legacy of Congress.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi described the NPR and NRC as 'notebandi no. 2' and said they will be more disastrous than the demonetisation exercise in November 2016.
Addressing a party rally in Guwahati in Assam, he expressed the fear that the state might return to the path of violence due to policies of the BJP governments at the Centre and the state. Gandhi also hit out at BJP governments for the 'firing on youths protesting peacefully'.
"In the country, wherever the BJP goes, there is only hatred, violence and fighting between people. The BJP does not want to listen to people's voice and wants to suppress that," he added.
Virtually equating the ruling BJP with the British, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that at present the country was fighting an ideology which it had fought against during the freedom struggle.
She was addressing party leaders in Lucknow during a programme held to mark the party's foundation day.
"The BJP makes laws which are against the Constitution and then suppresses those who oppose it.
"People were killed in the country, including Uttar Pradesh, and those who could not be killed were put in jails. Their only fault was that they were raising voice against a wrongdoing," Priyanka Gandhi said.
Those who had no contribution in the freedom struggle, they want to spread fear today in the name of nationalism, she said, adding the BJP 'silenced the voice of the people through violence and cowardice'.
It 'is now retreating saying that it (the BJP) has discussed NPR and not NRC . The country is recognising your cowardice', she said.
Amid raging anti-CAA protests, the Congress took out marches on its foundation day to take its 'Save Constitution-Save India' message to the people.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi hoisted the party flag at its headquarters in New Delhi at 24, Akbar Road in the presence of senior leaders including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, A K Antony, Motilal Vohra and Anand Sharma.
In Mumbai, Congress general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge and other state unit leaders participated in the march, which began after the flag-hoisting ceremony at Tejpal Hall near August Kranti Maidan where the foundation of the Congress party was laid in 1885.
The Congress in Kerala held a 'Maha Rally' which marched to the Raj Bhavan in the state capital Thiruvanathapuram.
"If the Constitution goes, they will introduce Hindutva Rashtra, which is nothing but sanatan dharma and Manu Smriti.... The country would be taken back 100 years," former finance minister P Chidambaram told the gathering.
In such a situation 'the most powerful class would rule us. Not only Muslims but all other backward classes... all other OBCs especially dalits and tribals would be subjugated.... We should never allow this', he alleged.
Chidambaram said the party's demand was to suspend CAA and completely stop NRC.
"We will continue to fight until they are met," the Congress leader said and described the CAA and NRC as most 'unconstitutional' and 'illogical'.
"The Citizenship Amendment Act destroys the very basis of our Constitution. If they had two-thirds majority in Parliament, they would have amended the Constitution," the Congress leader said, adding the ruling party was now trying to do it through the 'backdoor'.
The rally, which began from Martyr's column, was led by KPCC President, Mullapally Ramachandran, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala, besides Chidambaram.
'Sacrifice for the nation stands above all else for the Congress party. From the time of our foundation, through the Indian independence movement and for all the days to come, India comes first,' the Congress said on its official Twitter handle.
'135 years of Unity, 135 years of justice, 135 years of equality, 135 years of ahimsa, 135 years of freedom. Today we celebrate 135 years of Indian National Congress,' it said.
The Delhi Congress led by its president Subhash Chopra took out a march from the party office on DDU Marg to Ambedkar Stadium where they garlanded a portrait of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and then moved forward to the Rajghat to pay homage at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot targeted the BJP, saying those who were "informers" of British during the freedom movement were questioning the legacy of the Congress.
Gehlot, while addressing party workers at an event in Jaipur, said the Constitution is 'under threat and voice of democracy is being trampled' in the country.
"Former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi achieved martyrdom. That is a legacy. People having ideology of your party were informers during freedom struggle.
"They used to work as informers of British. Those people are today talking about Congress heritage. It is a matter of shame," he said.
"All institutions are being ruined, there is a pressure on Judiciary, Election Commission, CBI, ED, Income Tax department. Not a single action is taken without consent of PMO's. All decisions are made in the PMO, where is the country going?" Gehlot said.
The Gujarat unit of the Congress took out a march from Sabarmati Ashram to the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Usmanpura in Ahmedabad.
"On our foundation day, we pledge to launch a fight for the second independence and work to once again make the country what Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi) had dreamt of," party's Gujarat in-charge Rajiv Satav said.
"Under the BJP government...the country seems to be going backwards. Prime Minister does not respond to the questions on economic slowdown, unemployment, and farm distress, among others, affecting the people of the country," he said.
Telangana Congress leaders and workers staged a 'Satyagraha' at its office in Hyderabad after police denied permission to take out a rally on the occasion of the party's 135th formation day.
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president and MP N Uttam Kumar Reddy, party MLA D Sridhar Babu, former MP Ponnam Prabhakar and several other leaders took part in the demonstration.