These are "testing times for Indian democracy", Congress president Sonia Gandhi said in her Independence Day message on Saturday, sharpening her attack on the Narendra Modi government.
"The present government, it seems, is standing contrary to democratic system, constitutional values and established traditions. These are also testing times for Indian democracy," Mrs Gandhi said.
Mrs Gandhi, 73, said, "As a responsible opposition, this is our responsibility that we make every effort and struggle to keep India's democratic independence intact."
"Is there freedom in the country today to write, to speak, to ask questions, to disagree, to have views, to seek accountability?" she said in her message.
PM Modi delivered his seventh consecutive Independence Day speech from the iconic Red Fort in Delhi on Saturday morning. He spoke about various issues, including the clash with China in June at Galwan Valley in Ladakh. He said India's soldiers have given a fitting reply to anyone who has challenged the country's sovereignty "from LoC to LAC".
Sonia Gandhi too referred to the Galwan Valley clashes, saying that 60 days have passed since 20 soldiers died for the country.
She also touched upon the coronavirus pandemic and the state of the economy. "I can say with full confidence that all of us together will come out of this pandemic and the state of severe economic crisis," she said.
Mrs Gandhi did not attend the Independence Day celebrations at the Congress headquarters on Saturday. Senior leader and former union minister AK Antony hoisted the flag at the party headquarters. Rahul Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala were also present at the event.
Earlier on Saturday, Mr Gandhi tweeted, quoting former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, "The only alternative to coexistence is codestruction. - Jawaharlal Nehru. Best wishes on Independence Day," he tweeted.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)