The Congress on Thursday lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led government, a day after India slipped 10 ranks from 41 to 51 in the Democracy Index released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, PTI reported. India’s overall score fell from 7.23 out of 10 in 2018 to 6.90 last year, mainly due to an “erosion of civil liberties”, the index report said. The country was ranked 42 in 2017 and 41 in 2018.

On Thursday, the Congress said the country has to be vigilant against “diminishing democracy” and it cannot afford to allow democracy to be diluted. “Anyone who has closely observed the events of the last two years knows that democracy has been eroded and democratic institutions have been debilitated,” Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted. “Those who are in power are the real ‘tukde-tukde gang’.”

Chidambaram added that the world is alarmed by the direction India is taking. He said every patriotic Indian should also be alarmed.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said it is natural that every proud Indian will feel deeply hurt. He said that the Democracy Index for India should be rising as it is a solid democracy. “This is a red-flag which should remind us every minute of our existence that diminishing democracy is what we have to be eternally vigilant against,” Singhvi told reporters in New Delhi.

The Congress leader alleged that there was palpable fear in the country. He said the fear could be both inside and outside the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, misuse of power by the government and “snooping and surveillance”.

Singhvi said that besides fear, intolerance, increase in instances of vendetta and the quest for uniformity were the factors leading to the fall in India’s position on Democracy Index. “The second milestone criterion is ‘intolerance’ or ‘accommodation’,” he said. “Whether you see it manifested in students’ episodes or in pre-emptive invocation of Article 144, so that you prevent an assembly which you later call an unlawful assembly. But everybody must be painted in my colour. What is my colour will be your colour. That is not the culture of India.”

Singhvi said the third factor in diminishing democracy was the government’s vendetta – the feeling that it wants to “settle the scores”. “This is completely antithetical to the idea of India.” The Congress leader said that before 2014, which was when the Narendra Modi-led government came to power, vendetta politics was not a factor at the national level.