Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative, saying it cannot become a euphemism for an “internet controlled by large remote corporations”. He accused the Centre of looking the other way when telecom companies introduced differential pricing through zero-rating plans.

Gandhi said the Congress has always stood for freedom of the internet and net neutrality. In a statement, he urged Internet Service Providers and the central government to treat all data on the internet equally. “The Congress Party’s and my belief is shaped by our faith that internet users should be free to connect to any website or service that they want, enabling a level playing field on the World Wide Web,” he said.

Gandhi praised the “indomitable spirit” of net neutrality activists, who he said are engaged in a movement to disseminate useful and relevant information to the public despite “misleading marketing gimmicks”.