BJP had accused him of playing vote-bank politics

In a statement which could trigger a fresh stand-off with the Bharatiya Janata Party, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said “a few Chief Ministers who believe in fundamentalism” opposed his letter to CMs asking them not to detain innocent minority youth in terror cases.

The advisory, issued last year, saw the BJP accusing Mr. Shinde of playing vote-bank politics and demanding his resignation. “I am very categorical about this. The reason my letter was opposed was fundamentalism. I still stand by my letter that innocent people should not be harassed. Do not take minorities only as Muslims. Minorities include Jains, Buddhists and other communities as well,” Mr. Shinde said in an exclusive interview to The Hindu in his constituency here on Wednesday.

He said his letter was not an order. “I do not want to override the power of State governments. It is just a suggestion but I have not withdrawn it. It still stands.” On the Centre’s probe into the spying on a woman in Gujarat allegedly at the behest of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Shinde said, “It is still going on.” He denied the BJP charge that the UPA had failed to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre. “It was the BJP-led States and a few others which opposed it, so we decided to suspend the move. They felt we are taking over the rights of States, which is not true.” Defending himself against the Adarsh Commission indictment for extending political patronage to the scam-hit building project in Mumbai, Mr. Shinde, who was then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, said: “My role was limited since the original letter of intent had been cleared by my predecessor, Vilasrao Deshmukh. The land belongs to the State government, whose right it was to sanction it for housing.” Mr. Shinde denied the Commission’s view that he gave clearances hastily without consulting the Cabinet. “The powers had been delegated to the ministry concerned,” he said. “Adarsh is not at an issue in this election. No one has spoken of it so far.”

Adarsh is not an issue

Mr Shinde defended himself against his indictment by the Adarsh Commission of Inquiry for extending political patronage to the building. “I followed all the rules. My role was limited since the original letter of intent had been cleared by my predecessor, Vilasrao Deshmukh. The land belongs to the state government, whose right it was to sanction it for housing,” he said.

Mr Shinde denied the Commission’s views that he gave clearances hastily without consulting the cabinet. ‘The powers had been delegated to the concerned ministry,” he said. He added, “Adarsh is not at all issue in this election. No one has spoken of it so far.”

I was reluctant to contest

He admitted that he was reluctant to contest the Lok Sabha polls this year and wanted to retire. “But when the party gave me the candidature, I could not refuse it,” he said. At 73, he felt it was time to quit electoral politics. Also with his daughter Praniti Shinde now an MLA, he felt two people from the same family should not contest the polls.

Mr Shinde dismissed the recent controversy over his caste validity certificate. “This is something raised by my political rivals but in a Lok Sabha election they do not need this document. There is no debate about my caste certificate. The officials should have provided the additional validity certificate,” he said.

Mr Shinde mocked reports of a “Modi wave” in the country. “Atal Behari Vajpayee drew much larger crowds in 2004 but the UPA came to power. I feel there will be a miserable defeat for the BJP,” he said

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