The Congress on Tuesday described the arrest of a Tamil Nadu woman research scholar for allegedly raising slogans against the state BJP President as an act of "fascism," which was a clear evidence that there was an "undeclared emergency" in the country.
The Congress also said that the 2019 elections would be a contest between fascism represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and democracy represented by progressive and pluralistic forces.
"Fascism was on full display when a young lady travelling from Chennai to Tuticorin hit a raw nerve when she allegedly shouted 'down with fascist BJP government'," Congress leader Manish Tewari told media here at a press conference.
He said that Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan in a display of unbridled arrogance lodged a complaint against the girl following which she was sent to 15 days of judicial custody.
"If this is not undeclared emergency, then what is," the former union minister questioned.
"This was not only an assault on the freedom of speech and expression but it was also an assault on the constitution, democracy and idea of India," he said.
Tewari was referring to the arrest of Lois Sofia, 28, a research scholar at the University of Montreal, Canada, and a native of Thoothukudi in the state.
Referring to the arrest of five social activists across the country last week, Tewari said, "This was completely uncalled for. This was the second case within a week."
"This is a pattern which has been playing out repeatedly and systematically since 2014," he alleged.
Listing the incidents of muzzling dissent, the Congress leader said the assault on the students of Film Institute of Pune, events that led to the suicide of Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula, derecognition of Periyar study circle in IIT-Madras, stopping the screening of a Kashmiri film in IIT-Delhi, vilification campaign against Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) etc. are among many such instances.
He said that there was a narrative which the BJP and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) is trying to peddle. "If you question the BJP, you are termed anti-national. If you question the government, then you are called a traitor. Is this the India that we want?" he asked.
"It is becoming clear that battle for 2019 is going to be fought between fascism represented by BJP and democracy represented by progressive, pluralistic forces. It is going to be a battle not just to replace the government but for the very soul of india," Tewari added.