With Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging on Sunday that the Opposition was "inciting" people on the issues of NRC and CAA, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah had "destroyed" the future of the country's youth and were "hiding behind hate" to escape their anger over the lack of jobs and the state of the economy.
Gandhi wrote on Twitter that the Modi-Shah duo could only be defeated by responding with love towards every Indian.
Later, at a press conference, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma alleged that an environment of fear and uncertainty was created because of Shah's statement in Parliament that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be implemented after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Protests continue to rock many cities across the country since Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill earlier this month. The protests have turned violent in several cities -- especially in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka -- causing multiple deaths and injuries to people.
Gandhi wrote on Twitter: "Dear Youth of India, Modi & Shah have destroyed your future. They can't face your anger over the lack of jobs and damage they've done to the economy. That's why they are dividing our beloved India and hiding behind the hate."
"We can only defeat them by responding with love towards every Indian," the former Congress chief said.
In another tweet, Gandhi said, "Dear students of India, no Indian student should allow Modi-Shah to divide India the way they are doing. Students of India, you are the future of India and India is your future. Let's stand together and fight their hate."
The prime minister hit out at the rival parties of the ruling BJP at a rally here, accusing them of trying to spread falsehood over the CAA and NRC by inciting the minorities and poor people.
Sharma said,"The home minister's statement in both houses (on implementing the NRC post the CAA) has created an environment of fear, insecurity and uncertainty. It is primarily the government which is responsible for that."
Countering Modi's statement that there were no detention centres in the country, he said, "They are present in India. People are being kept there. Those people, who fought for us in the Kargil War, have also been sent to those detention centres and the media has showed it."
"Even international media has made films on those detention centres and showed how in five rooms, 600 people were being kept in Assam. Kids have been separated from their mothers. Families have been torn apart," Sharma said.
At a time when protests are being held across the country against the CAA and NRC, the prime minister should provide a "healing touch" and if he was "sensitive and serious", he should call a meeting of chief ministers of all the states at the National Integration Council (NIC) to discuss the matter, the Congress leader said.
On Modi's charge that opposition parties, including the Congress, were spreading lies and inciting people over the NRC and CAA, he said, "The prime minister should speak responsibly. The Indian National Congress as the main opposition party and other opposition parties have the right to speak on people's issues and the country's issues. It is our responsibility."
"This unsafe and uncertain environment was created by the government due to its hurry. The complete responsibility lies with the government.... Only the prime minister can improve the situation in the country," the Congress spokesperson added.
Neither any Congress office-bearer nor any branch of the party took part in the violent protests anywhere in the country, he claimed, adding, "The Congress has always opposed any form of violence."
Sharma said this situation was created as Shah said in both houses of Parliament that the government was going to implement the NRC in the entire country.
"This is neither the Congress party's statement nor any other opposition party's," he said.
"It is the government's responsibility to listen to people and clear their doubts. This matter (regarding the NRC and CAA) is being heard in the Supreme Court. The Constitution bench will hear it, so the government should wait and not implement it," Sharma added.
Those who questioned or criticised the government were being labelled as if they were not Indians and national interests were not close to their hearts, he said.
"This is not in the interest of the Indian democracy...the prime minister and his ministers should refrain from that (labelling)," he added.
"Right now, the complete attention of the government should be on the economy, which is in tatters. At this time, there should be no other discussion. If you look at the kind of narrative in the country today, you will find that the attention from the real issues has been diverted," Sharma said.
On Modi's remark made at a Jharkhand rally last week that those indulging in arson during the anti-CAA protests "can be identified by their clothes", he said, "There have been occasions when during elections, the prime minister made highly objectionable and provocative statements. He has mastered the art of double speak I would say."
"Citizens are citizens, it is not for the prime minister to label them because of what they wear," the Congress leader added.
Another Congress spokesperson, Randeep Singh Surjewala, wrote on Twitter: "Saheb (Modi) said in Delhi that there have been no discussion on NRC but on November 28, the BJP promised to implement NRC in its manifesto for Jharkhand elections."
"Therefore, please tell us two things: Why is there inconsistency between the PM and Home Minister? Is there a tussle between the party and the power? Or both of them are making a fool out of this country!," he added.