Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the Congress on Friday, when India marked 46 years since the imposition of the Emergency. He said the 21-month period between 1975 and 1977 “witnessed a systematic destruction of institutions”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, whose leaders were among those jailed during the Emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, has frequently criticised the Congress for this period when constitutional rights and civil liberties were suspended in the country.

“The Dark Days of Emergency can never be forgotten,” Modi said. “Let us pledge to do everything possible to strengthen India’s democratic spirit, and live up to the values enshrined in our Constitution.”

In March, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said that the Emergency was a “mistake”. But, he claimed that there was a “fundamental difference” between what happened during the Emergency and now, alleging that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, was filling institutions with its own people.

He had claimed that the RSS has “penetrated every institution, including judiciary, bureaucracy, election commission and the press”.

However, the saffron party had mocked Gandhi, saying his comments about the Emergency were “laughable”.

Several critics have also accused the BJP of destabilising institutions – from the courts to the Election Commission. Oppositions parties have also said that they have never seen such blatant misuse of central agencies the way it was being done by the Modi government to intimidate them.

In another tweet on Friday, the prime minister shared a post by the BJP mentioning things that were apparently banned during the Emergency. This included songs of legendary singer Kishore Kumar, movies on revolutionaries Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh, quotes of Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

“Come let us pledge together that those who did this to our nation never have the power to do this again,” the last picture said.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Congress “murdered” democracy on this day in 1975 for its arrogance of power.

Other senior BJP leaders and Union ministers also joined in: