Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda on Monday targeted Congress over its criticism of Narendra Modi, saying their “lies and hate” will only increase public support for the prime minister.

“One dynasty’s deep personal hatred against a person who was born in poverty and became prime minister is historic,” Nadda said in one of his tweets. “Equally historic is the love people of India have showered upon PM Narendra modi. More Congress’ lies and hate increases, the more people will support PM Modi!”

Nadda accused the Congress of being an oppressive party. “If anyone wants to see a laboratory of usage of brute state power, troubling opponents, curbing freedom of speech in trademark Congress style, see the working of the Congress blessed Maharashtra government,” he said. “Except governing, they are doing everything else.”

He added that the party had crushed dissent for decades. “On freedom of speech, Congress can never pontificate to others,” the BJP leader said. “They have contempt for dissenting voices for decades. We saw glimpses of it during the Emergency. Later on, the Rajiv Gandhi government made a brazen attempt to weaken press freedom. A free press rattles Congress.”

Nadda claimed that women were unsafe in Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Punjab. He also alleged that people from the Scheduled Castes were being subjected to atrocities under the party’s rule.

The BJP president also criticised Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi. “Combination of despondency and shamelessness is dangerous,” he said. “Congress possesses both. Empty rhetoric of decency and democracy by the mother is ‘complemented’ by live demonstrations of politics of hate, anger, lies and aggression by the son. Double standards galore!”

Nadda’s tirade against the Congress came after Sonia Gandhi’s opinion piece in the Hindustan Times, where she wrote how India’s democracy was getting eroded under the Narendra Modi government.

“The fundamental right to freedom of expression has been systematically suspended through suppression and intimidation,” she wrote. “Dissent is deliberately stifled as terrorism or branded as an ‘anti-national activity’. Many institutions that are meant to uphold the rights of citizens and society at large have been co-opted or subverted.”

The Congress president also condemned BJP for its attempts to intimidate dissent.

“Of course, some of these threats are real and have to be dealt with uncompromisingly but the Narendra Modi government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party conjure up sinister conspiracies behind every political protest, indeed behind any and everything they see as opposition to them. The system unleashes investigative agencies on dissenters and deploys proxies through sections of the media and online troll factories. India’s hard-won democracy is being hollowed out.”

— Sonia Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, has consistently criticised the Centre over its economic policies, coronavirus-fighting strategy and response to Chinese aggression. He also led protests against the Centre’s farm laws in Punjab and Haryana.

Rahul Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are also among several Opposition leaders who have strongly criticised the Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh for its handling of the Hathras gangrape case.

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