Fronting the BJP's protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, the party's newly-elected president Rajnath Singh said, "Today we are protesting on the streets but if the government doesn't remove Shinde and express regret, we will take the battle to Parliament." He also scoffed at the Congress saying, "What came out of the chintan shivir? One was Rahul Gandhi; the other maybe that in the camps conducted by the RSS, BJP workers are learning lessons on terror."
Mr Shinde had said at the Congress' conclave in Jaipur on Sunday, "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." He has since tried to defend his remarks saying he was actually referring to "saffron terrorism" which, he said, had already been talked about by the media on occasion.
Mayawati, whose party the BSP provides crucial external support to the UP government, today slammed the Home Minister saying he made the statement in "haste" and asked him to place facts before courts to let the judiciary take a decision in this regard. "Shinde holds an important position in the government and the issue relates to his department. He should have made the statement based on the facts available to him, which he did not. He acted in haste which is not correct," she said. Mayawati said Hindus were "very agitated and very angry" about the comment.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said it was wrong of Mr Shinde to have said "Hindu terrorism." The NCP is a UPA ally and partners the Congress both in the central government and in the Maharashtra state government.
The BJP has said that Mr Shinde's remarks are "an insult to us". The BJP has taken umbrage to the words "saffron terror" too. Sushma Swaraj, senior party leader and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha said at Jantar Mantar, "Saffron and terrorism are two words opposed to each other. When the BJP and RSS wasn't there, saffron was there. If the Home Minister wants to see the power of the colour saffron, let him go to Allahabad where the MahaKumbh is being organised."
In Chandigarh, the police had to use water cannons to control BJP supporters who had gathered to condemn the Home Minister.
The RSS has said Mr Shinde's remarks have made him "a darling of terrorists" as they allow Pakistan and terror groups based there to pass the buck for attacks in India.
The government it has stoutly defended Mr Shinde. Home Secretary RK Singh said on Tuesday, "After investigation into the blasts in the Samjhauta Express, at Mecca Masjid and at Ajmer Sharif, we have 10 names of those who were associated with the RSS at some point or the other."
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy said today, "The agitation against the HM is quite baseless. Our government is secular and so is our country. Our party believes in all religions. They (BJP) are making a non-issue an issue."
Rajnath Singh alleges that the statements show the government is not serious in its fight against terrorism. "Just for vote bank politics, they are poisoning the atmosphere of the nation with communalism," he said. His comments were countered by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who said: "Rajnath Singh should say why he met Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Purohit in jail, who were arrested in terror activities." (Read) Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur have been accused of orchestrating the Malegaon blasts of 2008. "If BJP wants Sushil Kumar Shinde to apologise, then we would like Rajnath Singh, Lal Krishna Advani and Uma Bharti to apologise too. Because even they met people like Pragya Singh in the jail, may I ask why?" he said.
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