New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday urged people to rise above personal prejudices and stand united to protect the Constitution and its values, claiming that they are being attacked through a "deep-rooted" conspiracy.
In a message on the eve of Republic Day, Gandhi said every citizen should imbibe the duty to protect the Constitution and strengthen the unity of the country.
"A deep-rooted conspiracy has been hatched to set a discourse to divide countrymen based on religion, regionalism and language as also to subvert and undermine the Constitution. An unprecedented atmosphere of disturbance, fear and insecurity has been foisted upon the country,” she said.
"The common citizen is convinced that the constitutional values are no longer safe in the hands of the present dispensation," she added.
The onus of protecting the Constitution is on the shoulders of every Indian, the Congress chief said, accusing the government of conspiring to weakening the Constitution. She urged people to rise above personal prejudices and parochial political gains, and take a renewed pledge towards nation building.
"Today, the Constitution and its values are being attacked by way of a concerted and vicious conspiracy. Constitutional principles are being systematically encroached upon as also the independence of Constitutional institutions is being scuttled at the whims of autocratic authoritarianism," Gandhi said.
It is, therefore, the duty of every citizen to stand united in the defence of the Constitution, she said.
Gandhi said all this is being done to draw attention away from the "economic mess, administrative bankruptcy, run-away inflation, all-round recession and unacceptable unemployment".
"Let's leave behind personal prejudices emanating from the lust for parochial political gains and take a renewed pledge towards nation building. Every country man and woman must reaffirm and assimilate one's duty towards guarding the Constitution and defending India's unity. This is the litmus test for our commitment to the Constitution and our patriotism," she said.
While greeting people for the 71st Republic Day, Gandhi said the country's great Constitution was drafted and adopted by the nation as per the aspirations and desires of all country men and women. The cardinal principles of justice, equality, freedom, secularism and fraternity run through the veins of the Constitution, she said.
"Every letter of the Constitution is not a mere printed word but a living philosophy for every citizen and an eternal path of governance for the democratically elected rulers,” she said.
"This path is laced with the sacrifice of crores of freedom fighters led by Mahatma Gandhi, wherein every Indian's rights to social, economic and political justice, thought, expression, belief, independence of and right to practice of religion, dignity and opportunity have been guaranteed," she said.
This 71st Republic Day is also a day of reaffirming the commitment to the founding values and principles of the Constitution and implementing every phrase inscribed in it in letter and in spirit, Gandhi said.
She claimed that agriculture and the farmer are standing on the verge of devastation today and India's youth is ravaged by unfathomable unemployment.
Recession and closure of factories has led to unmitigated helplessness on part of small businesses and shopkeepers and the economy is in doldrums, economic progress has been ruined and economic recession is knocking at every door, Gandhi said.
"However, every individual voicing dissent is being trampled upon by the brute might of the State," she said.