New Delhi : Taking a swipe at the Central government, interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Saturday that anti-national and anti-poor forces were spreading hatred and "venom of violence" in the country, and the "influence of dictatorship" on democracy was rising.
While addressing the party leaders on the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Chhattisgarh Assembly building in Nava Raipur, the upcoming new capital of the state, through a recorded video message, Sonia Gandhi said, "For some time now, an attempt is being made to derail our country. New challenges have come up before our democracy. Today, the country stands at crossroads."
Attacking the Centre, she said, "Anti-poor and anti-national forces and those who rule by making people fight against each other have been spreading hatred and venom of violence. Bad thinking is dominating good thinking, freedom of expression is in danger and democratic institutions are being ruined. The influence of dictatorship has been increasing on democracy."
Without naming anyone, Sonia Gandhi alleged that these elements want to suppress the voice of the people.
"What do they want? They want people of the country, our youth, our tribal people, our women, our farmers, shopkeepers and small traders, and jawans to keep their mouths shut," she said.
"Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, G.V. Mavalankar, B.R. Ambedkar and our other forefathers would have never imagined that after 75 years of Independence, the country will face such a difficult situation and our Constitution and democracy will be in danger," she said.
Sonia also asked the party leaders to take a pledge to protect the foundation of democracy.
"We should also take a pledge that as long as we are in power, we will take decisions keeping in mind the interests of people standing at the end of queue," she said.
"The legislature is the biggest pillar of our democracy. The Parliament and the legislative assembly are sacred temples of our democracy which ensure protection to our Constitution. But it must be remembered that the Constitution will not be saved by buildings, rather it will be protected by emotions," she said.
"We have come a long distance in the last seven decades and successfully faced several challenges and got rid of them. However, we are still far away from realising the dreams of our forefathers," she added.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi hailed the Bhupesh Baghel government for launching schemes for the farmers and the tribal people in his message read out by state Agriculture Minister Ravindra Choubey.
Chief Minister Baghel, through the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana and other schemes, has ensured that money reaches the hands of the farmers, labourers and the poor, Rahul Gandhi said.
The new assembly building will come up over 51 acres of land behind the new Mantralaya (secretariat) at a cost of around Rs 270 crore.