Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot sounded a word of caution to the BJP's allies on Wednesday, claiming that they were unwittingly helping the ruling party lead the country away from democracy.
"Any party in alliance with the BJP must realise that the people whose lap you are sitting on don't believe in democracy. They are running the country like never before. Like China, the country is fast moving towards one-party rule," news agency ANI quoted him as saying at a press conference in Jaipur.
Mr Gehlot is the Chief Minister of one of the four states in the country ruled by the Congress either on its own strength or in alliance with like-minded parties. The BJP, on the other hand, holds a position of power in over 10 states.
Even in the recent assembly elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance defeated the Congress' coalition with Sharad Pawar's NCP by a margin of over 55 seats while grabbing power in Haryana by allying with Dushyant Chautala's Jannayak Janata Party and independents MLAs. Many politicians from the Congress and other opposition parties defected to the BJP ahead of the polls.
Earlier this year, rebel MLAs helped the BJP bring down the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition in Karnataka.
Mr Gehlot, however, is not the first opposition leader to accuse the BJP of trying to establish complete control over the country at a time when the party is expanding its presence across its expanse. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the most vociferous rivals of the BJP, had made a prediction to this effect in the months following the Trinamool Congress' sub-par performance in the Lok Sabha elections. "Where are we heading? I think we are heading towards a presidential form of government. I am making this prediction today: one election, one leader, one political party, one emergency. Did our freedom fighters fight for this?" she had asked at a rally held by her party's student wing.
Opposition protests turned especially shrill when BJP president Amit Shah raised questions over the previous United Progressive Alliance government's "policy paralysis", and wondered if the multi-party democratic system had failed the country.
"For the last 70 years, the people of this country have upheld the idea of unity in diversity. The BJP wants to change the very characteristic of country laid down by the constitution. They want to impose their ideology on others," said Congress veteran Adhir Chowdhury. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty echoed his sentiment, claiming that the BJP was bent on sacrificing equality on the altar of uniformity.
They also accused the BJP of "subverting" the country's constitutional bodies to target its political opponents.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha defended Amit Shah, saying that the topic of multi-party democracy came up only because regional parties had failed to realise the country's potential since Independence.
(With inputs from Agencies)