On the foundation day of the Congress on Monday, its chief Sonia Gandhi urged the party leaders and workers to unite in fighting dictatorship and protecting the country's democracy, Constitution and the countrymen.
Addressing party workers in a video message on the 136th foundation day of the party, Mrs Gandhi said the country is going through difficult times.
Congratulating the Congress leaders and workers on the completion of 135 years of the party's formation, she said it has traversed the path from the freedom struggle till now for achieving the values of patriotism, fearlessness, selflessness, selfless service towards humanity, brotherhood and the country's unity and integrity.
Mrs Gandhi said the party was launched as part of a "jan andolan" (people's movement) during the freedom struggle and has seen times when atrocities were committed on its leaders and workers.
"But Congressmen have not fallen behind in achieving their goals of getting India's freedom and in the service of the country, despite taking lathis, going to jail and giving their supreme sacrifices," she said, adding that the grand old party has helped lay the country's strong foundations.
"Today, once again the circumstances are similar to those existing before independence. The rights of people are being crushed, there is dictatorship everywhere, democratic and constitutional institutions are being finished.
"Unemployment is at its peak, farms and fields are being attacked and black laws are being imposed on the country's 'annadata' (food provider). In such circumstances, it is our responsibility to save the country from such dictatorship and fight it. This is true patriotism," Mrs Gandhi said in her video message.
Urging the Congressmen to strengthen the party at every level, she said it is the hope of the people of the country.
"We will have to unite to save the pride and honour of the tricolour, under which we achieved our nation's freedom.
"We have to win over the hearts of people. We should take a pledge on the Congress's foundation day to fight to protect the country's democracy, Constitution and the countrymen for whom we will fight till our last breath," she said.
Mrs Gandhi skipped the party's foundation day function at the AICC headquarters. Former party chief Rahul Gandhi also skipped the event as he is abroad. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and a number of Congress leaders attended the function.