Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday said his state's former ATS chief Hemant Karkare had never used the term "Hindu terror" and disapproved of the offensive remark made by the BJP's Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur against the martyred police officer.
Karkare, as chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), had led the investigation into the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, in which Ms Thakur is an accused.
Pragya Thakur is the BJP's Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal, where she is pitted against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
"Karkare had never ever used the "Hindu terror'' word. This word had been used by three persons Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, the then Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and NCP chief Sharad Pawar," he told reporters here while replying to a query.
Mr Singh, a former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, has in the past denied coining the phrase "Hindu terror''.
Mr Fadnavis was on a visit to Indore, which is home to around 3 lakh Marathi voters. Indore is among the eight Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh that will vote on May 19 in the last phase of elections.
The Maharashtra CM claimed the previous Congress governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra had coined the phrase "Hindu terror" as part of their vote-bank politics.
At that time, many young people were rounded up as part of anti-terror operations. This had caused resentment among a minority community as the Congress government had failed to justify these arrests, Mr Fadnavis said.
Asked about Ms Thakur's statement that her "curse" killed Mr Karkare, who died while fighting terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, he said she has apologised for her remark.
The BJP Chief Minister said Karkare is a hero not only for Maharashtra, but the entire country. "The BJP considers Karkare a martyr not only of Maharashtra, but the entire country because he laid down his life for motherlands security," he said.
"The BJP has already stated that it does not agree with Pragya's controversial remark against Karkare," he said, adding she has apologised for her remark.
"I have already said that Pragya should not have given such a controversial statement," the Maharashtra CM said.
Asked about local resident Dilip Patidar, a witness in the Malegaon blast case who is missing since November 2008, he said, "The NIA is looking into the matter."