Sushilkumar Shinde: An asset or liability for Congress?
New Delhi: Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who regretted his statement linking the BJP and the RSS with terrorism just two days ago, is again in the eye of a political storm over the alleged intelligence failure behind the Hyderabad blasts that killed 16 people and injured 117.
The blasts issue rocked parliament Friday as the opposition parties attacked the government after Shinde said there were prior intelligence reports about the blasts.
Only last month Shinde created a furore by linking the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) with terrorists while addressing Congress leaders at the party's introspection-cum-strategy meeting in Jaipur in January.
The BJP vowed not to let parliament run till he apologised. But while the BJP accepted his regret, the RSS rejected it.
Shortly after his "Hindu terror" remark controversy, Shinde was criticized for not intimating the family of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged Feb 9, through Speed Post, denying even the basic human courtesy to him.
"Shinde sometimes makes controversial statements unintentionally…but he is a hard worker…he should be more careful while speaking on sensitive issues," a Congress leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.
"The saffron terror remark could have been made with more sophistication," he said.
"The less he talks, the better," political commentator N. Bhaskara Rao told IANS, adding "any home minister will get the flak in case of a terror attack."
Shinde was made the home minister after incumbent P. Chidambaram was moved to the finance ministry in August 2012. He was also made Leader of the Lok Sabha after Pranab Mukjerhee vacated the post when he became the president in July last year.
He is considered to be Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's choice for the high profile post of India's home minister as a reward of his loyalty to the leadership.
Controversies are not new to the Dalit leader from Maharashtra, who started off as a police inspector, quit the force and rapidly climbed the poliical ladder to become the Maharashtra chief minister and later a central minister.
In December last year, during the visit of Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had hit out at Shinde for "not responding appropriately" to Malik's controversial remarks about 26/11 Mumbai attacks' mastermind Hafiz Saeed and the Babri Masjid issue.
Malik had compared the 2008 Mumbai attacks with the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.
"He (Shinde) has a very confusing approach. He said he had prior information on the terror attack and the state was alerted. The problem is such actions lead to perception of India as a soft state," he told IANS.