The Congress on Saturday slammed the Uttar Pradesh government over police "manhandling" party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Lucknow and demanded imposition of President's rule in the state. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Congress leader Sushmita Dev said Priyanka Gandhi was acting as a responsible leader without disturbing peace.
The Congress leader "didn't violate Section 144 but even then she was manhandled by police", Dev said, alleging "there is complete goonda raj and there should be President's rule in the state".
The alleged incident occurred when Priyanka Gandhi was heading to the residence of retired IPS officer SR Darapuri, who was arrested in connection with the recent anti-CAA protests.
The Congress general secretary claimed that the police tried to stop her, she was surrounded, held by the throat by a female cop and pushed by another as she was walking towards Darapuri's residence in Indiranagar's sector 18.
Earlier in the day, addressing party leaders and workers during a programme held to mark the 135th Foundation Day of the party, she virtually equated the BJP government with the British.
"Today in the country, there are such powers in the government with whom we had a historical clash. We are at present fighting an ideology against which we fought during the freedom struggle," she said at the UP Congress headquarters.
"Today the country is in trouble. If we do not raise our voices, we will be proved to be cowards." In her first visit to the state capital after violent protests against the amended citizenship law and a proposed countrywide implementation of the National Register of Citizens claimed at least 19 lives in UP, she said voices of dissent were emanating from multiple corners.
"But the government wants to suppress them through fear. Whenever such situations arise, the Congress rises to the challenge and accepts them. There is no place for violence and fear in our heart." She alleged the BJP makes laws which are against the Constitution and then suppresses those who oppose it.
"People were killed in the country, including in Uttar Pradesh, and those who could not be killed were put in jails. Their only fault was that they were raising voices against a wrongdoing," she said, referring to protests against the and CAA and NRC. Targeting the central government, she said that those in fear either resort to violence to silence the enemy or retreat.
"The BJP silenced the voice of the people through violence and cowardice, and is now retreating saying that it (BJP) has discussed NPR (National Population Register) and not NRC. The country is recognising your cowardice," the Congress leader said.
Hitting out at rival political parties in the state, though without naming them, she said, "Other opposition parties in the state are not saying much. They are feeling afraid or there is something else, which I don't know. But, we are not going to feel afraid."
(With PTI inputs)