New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday termed as "undemocratic" and "unconstitutional" the arrest of Gujarat legislator Jignesh Mevani over his tweets, with former party chief Rahul Gandhi saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot imprison the truth by trying to "crush" dissent.
The Congress attacked the BJP government over Mevani's arrest by the Assam Police and alleged that Prime Minister Modi was "scared" and running "helter-skelter" by such actions.
Mevani, an independent MLA from Gujarat who has pledged his support to the Congress, was arrested from Palanpur town in Gujarat on Wednesday night over a tweet and taken to Assam by air in the early hours, officials said.
Flaying the arrest of Mevani, Gandhi said it is an insult to the people who elected him as a public representative.
"Modi ji, you can try to crush dissent by abusing the state machinery. But you can never imprison the truth," Gandhi said on Twitter, using hashtag "#DaroMat" and "#SatyamevaJayate".
He tagged a report saying that Assam Police has taken Mevani into custody over his tweets on Prime Minister Modi.
"The 'dictator' is now running scared. The self-anointed 'shehanshah' of the country is 'deeply prejudiced' as also is running helter-skelter. The arrest of our friend, colleague, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani by police of Kokrajhar, Assam in Palanpur Gujarat, just for a single tweet asking the prime minster to appeal for communal amity and brotherhood in Gujarat reflects the deep-rooted prejudice, the scare, the fear among those sitting in the citadels of power in Delhi today," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters.
"Does the prime minister and the BJP think that they can browbeat Mevani and every voice of this country irrespective of political affiliation, rising for communal amity for brotherhood, for cohesion, for walking hand in hand together for progress of India?" he asked.
Surjewala also asked if those in power think they can trample upon the Constitution and "murder" the rule of law in broad daylight.
"Do they think that appealing for communal amity, brotherhood and cohesion is now a crime in this country? Is communalisation and spreading hate and fear the only mantra that this government has," he asked.
The Congress leader claimed that such voices will neither bow down nor be cowed down, be it of Mevani or millions and millions of Indians not necessarily belonging to the political spectrum, who want that India should progress and should walk hand in hand without being blocked through differentiation of caste and religion.
"We shall continue this fight Mr Modi.We will not be cowed down," he asserted.
Surjewala said the entire Congress and every conscious citizen of the country is standing shoulder to shoulder with Mevani.
"We will fight, we will not be afraid, we will not bow down. It has always been a call of Rahul Gandhi that we will fight against every arrogant power and will neither bow down nor hold back," he said, daring the government to arrest Gandhi or all those who want communal harmony to be maintained in the country at all costs.
He also alleged that the BJP government has attacked the basic civilisation of this country, but will never be able to defeat it.
"The undemocratic manner in which the Assam Police has detained Gujarat MLA, is anti-constitutional and an insult to the people who have elected him as a public representative. Congress workers will raise their voice against oppression," the Congress said on its official Twitter handle in Hindi.
Congress leader KC Venugopal also dubbed Mevani's arrest as unlawful and unconstitutional and alleged authoritarianism by the BJP.
"The unlawful and unconstitutional arrest of Mevani at midnight by Assam Police is the latest proof of authoritarianism under BJP. Such an arrest of a people's representative not only betrays their fear of criticism but also attacks the foundations of our democracy," he said in a tweet.
According to a document shared by officials of the Assam Police, an FIR has been lodged over a tweet by Mevani few days back. However, the tweet has been withheld by Twitter. It was about Nathuram Godse.
Mevani is an independent MLA from Vadgam seat in Gujarat's Banaskantha and had pledged his support to the Congress but did not join it yet for technical reasons. He, however, had said that he will contest the next election on a Congress ticket.