NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday attacked the Modi government after India slipped 10 ranks on the Democracy Index, saying democracy has been eroded and democratic institutions debilitated under the 'tukde tukde gang' in power, and this should alarm every Indian.
The party said the country has to be vigilant against "diminishing democracy" and it cannot afford to allow democracy to be diluted.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said there are four factors of fear, intolerance, vendetta and attempts at bringing uniformity of food habits, clothing, language, habits etc, which are adding to "diminishing democracy" under the Modi government.
Senior party leader P Chidambaram said India has slipped 10 places in the index and "anyone who has closely observed the events of the last two years knows that democracy has been eroded and democratic institutions have been debilitated those who are in power are the real 'tukde tukde' gang".
"The world is alarmed by the direction INDIA is taking. Every patriotic INDIAN should be alarmed too," he said on Twitter.
Singhvi said it is natural that every proud Indian will deeply feel hurt and pained on finding that India has slipped 10 ranks from 41 to 51 on the Democracy Index which is computed by a well-known renowned and a very objectively known entity.
The index for India should be rising as it is one of those few countries which have solid democracy, he said, adding that is the first time since 2006 that it declined to this figure.
"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. This is our proud heritage, it is our proudest possession. We can't allow it to dilute or diminish even by one millimetre," he told reporters.
Singhvi said democracy has been vibrant, alive and kicking in a big measure only in India, unlike in several other colonial countries.
"Is there not fear palpable in this country? Whether within the ruling party or outside it, whether it is because of misuse of government's power and agencies or of snooping and surveillance. I don't think we need a thermometer to measure that. We all understand and we all know it. Well, that diminishes democracy. This DD factor is what we are talking about -- diminishing democracy," he said.
The Congress leader said that besides fear, intolerance, increase in instances of vendetta and bringing in uniformity were the factors leading to the fall in India's position on Democracy Index.
"The second milestone criterion is 'intolerance' or 'accommodation'. Whether you see it manifested in students' episodes or in preemptive invocation of Article 144, so that you prevent an assembly which you later call unlawful. But everybody must be painted in my colour. What is my colour will be your colour. That is not the culture of India."
"The third factor of Diminishing Democracy is a palpable increase in vendetta -- the feeling of settling scores. This is completely antithetical to the idea of India," he said. Singhvi said India did not have vendetta politics as part of political culture, unlike other nations.
He said the feeling that everything should be uniform, be it culture, languages, thought, habit, dress, food, smells, sounds and thinking, is sought to be imposed on everyone.
"We should be one grand monolithic uniform nation which is again obviously antithetical to the diversity of India. Lynchings and impositions are only examples, they are manifestations but the route approaches uniformity as it ended itself," he said.
"I concede we had it in the beginning in one or two states. As you all know it in one state in South India, you know one in the East, may be one in North. But in this national-level politics, it has never been a factor, never before 2014," he said.
Singhvi said the trust deficit in the country is humongous and the politics of digression and diversion is going on and one can see desperation all around when these things happen.
"It is not people who should be afraid of the government, the government should be afraid of people. Today, people are very scared of the government and when you have such rules that fear increases 10 times each minute. The death of democracy is not an assassination from ambush. The death of democracy is a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, from under-nourishment."
The Congress leader also attacked Home Minister Amit Shah over his claim that CAA will not be taken back, saying "that is known as apathy, indifference and under-nourishment". "We will not listen to you, we are the 'Bhartiya Jiddi Party' and our political 'jidd' is paramount. That is not democracy. Democracy is the anti-thesis of the act. Now, when you have a climate of fear, you add up the CAA, NPR, NRC, the six new question in the NPR you get a cocktail of distrust, of suspicion," Singhvi said.