Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Sunday accused the BJP and RSS of conducting terror training camps and promoting “Hindu terrorism”, inviting protests by the two outfits and calls for an apology from Sonia Gandhi.
“On one hand we are trying to bring peace. We are also taking steps against injustice to minorities. But, in the midst of all this, we have got an investigation report that be it the RSS or BJP, their training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism. We are keeping a strict vigil on all this,” Shinde said at an AICC session during the Chintan Shivir in Jaipur.
He talked about the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and the Malegaon blasts, in which involvement of right-wing extremists is suspected.
Attacking Shinde, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters in Delhi, “Their (Congress’s) destructive mindset is reflected in the statement of the Home Minister. The statement is not only unacceptable but also dangerous.” It was aimed at disrupting peace and harmony, he added.
Calling the RSS a “nationalist organisation”, the BJP also demanded an immediate apology from the Congress leadership. “Sonia Gandhi should apologise. Rahul Gandhi and Home Minister should also apologise, otherwise there will be serious consequences... Such baseless things when said by the Home Minister amount to giving a clean chit to real terrorists... Sometimes I feel the Congress has become a kayaron ki jamaat (group of cowards),” Naqvi said.
Confronted by the BJP, Shinde later clarified, “This is saffron terrorism that I have talked about. It is the same thing and nothing new. It has come in the media several times.”
Several Congress leaders too defended Shinde. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said, “It is not Hindu terrorism but Sangh-backed terrorism.”
“I am 100 per cent with Shinde on this. This isn’t a secret. I want to thank the Home Minister for saying what everyone knows but does not have the courage to say,” party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said.
“He (Shinde) meant right-wing terrorism. There is no Hindu or Muslim terrorism,” added Union Minister Rajiv Shukla.
RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav called Shinde’s remarks “highly irresponsible” and made only to please his party bosses. “If a Congress leader had said something like this, it wouldn’t have mattered that much. But if the Home Minister of the country is saying something like this, it is highly irresponsible. This is all about playing votebank politics.”
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar described Shinde’s remarks as the “most irresponsible”