Sonia, Rahul, Kharge skip Red Fort fete

Red chairs marked for them remained empty as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation

New Delhi: Top Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and party president Mallikarjun Kharge skipped the Independence Day celebration at the Red Fort. The red chairs marked for them remained empty as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation.

While Kharge attacked the government, alleging that it was trying to "muzzle the voice of the country, taking to social media, Mr Gandhi said that "Bharat Mata is the voice of every Indian".

The Congress president said he couldn’t make it as he was unfurling the National Flag at his residence and at the AICC headquarters and that he had an eye problem. He would not have been able to leave the event at the Red Fort till the Prime Minister left.

Taking on the Prime Minister, Mr Kharge said, "He (the PM) also keeps on criticising the Opposition and if he keeps doing so even on Independence Day, then what kind of India will he make? He (the PM) will again unfurl the flag, but at his own house."

Addressing the Congress leaders, he said: "It pains me to say that today, democracy, Constitution and autonomous institutions -- all three are in great danger."

"New tactics are being adopted to suppress the voice of the opposition. Raids by the CBI, ED, Income Tax are happening and the Election Commission is being weakened. Efforts are being made to suppress the voice of the Opposition MPs in Parliament by suspending them. Someone's mic is going off or someone's words are getting expunged. Privilege motions are being brought," the Congress chief said, adding, "Bharat Judega, INDIA Jeetega", referring to the tagline of the Opposition alliance.

Meanwhile Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "On August 15, rather than reporting to the people what his government had achieved in the past nine years, the Prime Minister gave a crass election speech filled with distortions, lies, exaggerations and vague promises. Instead of bringing the country together to celebrate our journey so far, acknowledge the pain and anguish of those suffering, and accept the challenges ahead, he made it all about himself and his image."

"To summarise, Modi's failures in the last nine years can be categorised under 'durniti' (bad policies), 'anyay' (injustice) and perhaps most importantly, 'badniyat' (ill intention). Rhetoric and bluster can no longer cover up this truth, which is now evident to the entire country," Ramesh said in a statement.

He said the Prime Minister addressed the devastation caused by the violence in Manipur, casually comparing it with incidents in other parts of the country.

As the country celebrated Independence Day, Gandhi on Tuesday said that "Bharat Mata" is the voice of every single Indian, no matter how weak or strong.

In his message on Independence Day, he talked about his 145-day Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and shared his experience on how the people during his journey touched him all along.

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