In a scathing attack on Sushilkumar Shinde over his “Hindu terror” remarks, BJP President Rajnath Singh has said the Home Minister had hurt India’s image by his comments and dared him to ban the RSS and BJP and arrest all their leaders if there was any evidence against these organisations.

Questioning the silence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the remarks, the BJP chief made it clear that his party will continue its “oust-Shinde” campaign even in the Budget Session of Parliament expected to begin in the third week of next month. “If, as Home Minister, you think that the RSS and BJP are churning out terrorists, then we have also attended such training camps. Are we also terrorists? Do you consider us terrorists? Then put us also in jail,” Mr. Singh told PTI in an interview while reacting sharply to Mr. Shinde’s comments.

In a poser to the Home Minister, the BJP leader said, “If you consider the RSS and BJP to be terrorist organizations, why don’t you ban them? If you have evidence against them, why don’t you reveal that evidence?”

Mr. Singh alleged that Mr. Shinde had made the comments because of vote-bank politics.

Asked about Home Secretary R. K. Singh citing certain names in connection with the bombings in support of “Hindu terror” remarks of Mr. Shinde, Mr. Singh said the RSS is a big organization and someone may have sometimes attended a camp. “That doesn’t mean the entire organization is a terrorist organization. It is possible that such a person may have been associated in the past with the Congress also. The law should take its course against those held guilty. But the whole organization should not be held responsible for isolated acts of a few. Even in a family when someone commits a crime, you don’t call the entire family criminal,” the BJP chief said.

Noting that Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed had utilized Mr. Shinde’s remarks to target India, he said it was unfortunate that the comments of Indian Home Minister is being supported by the head of a terrorist organization in Pakistan and the Government is maintaining silence.

“Hafiz Saeed, who heads the JUD, has tried to tell the whole world that India is a terrorist state. Hasn’t India’s image suffered a setback at the international level?” Mr. Singh said as he termed the “silence” of the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi as “unfortunate". “We have asked the PM to express regret over Shinde’s statement and withdraw it. He and Sonia Gandhi have maintained silence. If the PM cannot speak up when the reputation of the country is on the line, then when will he speak? And if Congress President doesn’t react to an issue concerning India’s image, then when will she react?” Mr. Singh asked.

He said agencies of the whole world are saying that LeT and other terrorist organizations were behind the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts but the Indian Home Hinister is saying that the RSS and BJP are behind these. “Home Minister’s statement which has dimmed India’s global reputation has been made solely with vote bank politics in mind. The Congress is not concerned if such remarks dent country’s reputation and its image globally. They are concerned with only one thing — somehow they should retain power. They are playing vote bank politics,” he said.

Contending that the remarks reflected Congress’ “desperation”, the BJP chief said politics should not be played just because they want their government to be formed again as the actual role of a political party is nation building.

Asked what options the BJP had on the issue, Mr. Singh said the party would raise the matter prominently both outside and inside Parliament during the forthcoming session. “We don’t want to disrupt parliamentary proceedings. But we will confront the Government on this issue of national pride, and corruption. The responsibility of running Parliament smoothly lies with the ruling party. The opposition parties, acting as watchdogs on the Government, expect that the questions they raise related to country’s reputation are answered satisfactorily,” he said.

Accusing the Home Minister of undermining national pride with his remarks, Mr. Singh said, “It is very unfortunate. What will happen if our PM and ruling party chairperson do not speak on issues concerning national pride.” Mr. Singh said not just the Hindus but nationalist Muslims had also criticised Mr. Shinde’s remarks.

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