Angry BJP demands apology; Congress backs Home Minister

Taking on the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Sunday claimed that the two were promoting “Hindu terrorism” through their training camps. But the government was keeping a strict vigil on the terror activities of the two organisations, he said.

Addressing the AICC session on the final day of the chintan shivir here, Mr. Shinde said investigations revealed that the BJP and the RSS were conducting training camps to spread terrorism. “We have to take these facts seriously and remain alert.”

The Home Minister said the BJP and the RSS were behind the blasts aboard the Pakistan-bound Samjhauta Express, in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and the Malegaon mosque in Maharashtra. But they blamed the minority community for the crime, he said.

Predictably, Mr. Shinde’s remarks drew an angry reaction from the BJP, which demanded an unconditional apology, but Congress leaders attending the shivir defended him and said right-wing terrorism was a reality in the country.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi refrained from naming the BJP but in an indirect reference to it, she announced her party’s commitment to protect the country’s “emotional unity.” She said the Congress would always fight the ideologies and forces which challenged the nation’s unity and integrity and wanted to polarise and divide society.

But several other speakers named the BJP, attacking its “divisive policies” and claiming that it did not represent the vast majority of people.

Finding himself at the centre of the controversy, Mr. Shinde later told reporters that he had referred to “saffron terrorism,” which was nothing new and appeared in newspapers several times in the past.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, the former Union Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, and Union Minister Rajeev Shukla defended Mr. Shinde, saying there was enough evidence of RSS-backed terrorism.

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