New Delhi: The main opposition BJP and its ideological head the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) on Tuesday demanded an apology from the ruling Congress over the “saffron terror” remarks made by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, which was backed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The BJP has taken strong objection to the remarks made by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on ‘Hindu terrorism’ and the endorsement of the same by the External Affairs Minister.”
“BJP is deeply pained with the repeated irresponsible utterances of the top UPA government ministers who have blamed the BJP and its parent organisation ‘the RSS’ for encouraging Hindu terrorism’, he said.
“The statements made by the Home Minister and the endorsement of the same by the Foreign Affairs Minister are regrettable and highly condemnable,” he said.
“We demand an apology from the Congress president for the objectionable remarks made by its top leaders on Hindu terrorism,” Prasad said adding, “Such irresponsible remarks have only encouraged the terror operators from the other side of the border and entirely wasted years of efforts put in by India to expose Pakistan.”
The war of words between the BJP and Congress intensified after the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid backed Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde over his remarks on saffron terror.
Khurshid earlier said Shinde's remarks that terror training was being imparted in camps run by the BJP and the RSS were factually correct.
"Our stated position is fully shared by the Home Minister. His statements are based on facts," Khurshid told reporters here.
In a separate press conference in Mumbai, the RSS also strongly condemned the remarks made by Shinde.
Describing Sushilkumar Shinde's "Hindu terror" remark as "insulting", the RSS demanded that he tender an unconditional apology for this.
"Shinde must apologise for these unacceptable and irresponsible comments," Manmohan Vaidya, RSS' propaganda chief, said.
"The remarks are extremely insulting and he must tender an apology," he said, adding "terrorism has no colour, it should not be linked to Hindus."
Shinde had Sunday accused the RSS and the BJP of promoting "Hindu terrorism".
"They are talking about infiltration but we have this report that whether it is the BJP or the RSS, their training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism," Shinde said at the All India Congress Committee meet in Jaipur.
Slamming Shinde for his remarks, Prasad added, "We don't want him to retract the statement, we want the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) to retract him from the post of Home Minister."
The BJP also demanded a clarification if it was a "planned statement or a slip of the tongue".
Earlier, senior BJP leader Shahnawaj Hussain also said, “Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Jamat-ud-Da'wah chief Hafiz Saeed have welcomed Sushilkumar Shinde's statement."
Malik Monday said Pakistan had predicted the growth of "saffron terror".
He added, "Pakistan has consistently been telling the world that the Samjahuta Express blast was not done by us. Now the home minister has admitted the reality. Three years ago when Mr. (P.) Chidambaram came I told him please look into your own affairs, according to our intelligence India will be facing this extremism."
At the AICC meet, Shinde had said about the RSS and the BJP,"The Samjhauta Express blast, Mecca Masjid (blast in Hyderabad), Malegaon blast -- they are planting bombs and blaming minorities for it. We need to be careful for the safety of our country."
Jamat-ud-Da'wah (JuD) chief and Mumbai terror accused Hafiz Saeed had Monday demanded a ban on organisations such as the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
He had urged the international community to declare India "a state supporting terrorism on its soil" in view of Shinde's remarks.
With Agency inputs
First Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 17:41