The minister was free to take action against the “terrorists” behind the Samjhauta Express blasts but had no right to “insult” India’s spiritual heritage, the party said.
“The BJP strongly condemns the malicious, baseless comments. They are a downright insult of the spiritual, civilisational heritage of India. If there were terrorists behind the bombings in Samjhauta, the government is free to take action against them. If some former swayamsevak of the Sangh Parivar was involved, please act against them. But you cannot tarnish the image of a nationalist organisation... The BJP will not tolerate this repeated insult of Hindu and saffron traditions of India. Shinde must be sacked. The Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi must tender unconditional apology,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference.
Accusing the Congress of playing vote bank politics as well as playing into Pakistan’s hands, Prasad added: “The way politics is being played, the happiest would be Pakistan... They (Pakistan) will say: look at saffron Hindu terror, what your Home Minister is talking about.”
Earlier in the day, Lashkar-e-Toiba founder and alleged 26/11 attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed invoked the Samjhauta attack and Shinde’s remarks to claim that India has confessed to “terrorism infrastructure” on its soil and asked Pakistan to raise the issue in the UN and seek a ban on the RSS and VHP.
“Innocent Pakistanis were killed in the Samjhauta Express, Indian colonel was involved and their Home Minister is endorsing the involvement. Shinde has spoken Truth finally . World should take notice and declare India a state that is supporting terror on its soil after its Home Minister Shinde candidly confesses. Pakistan should raise this (Shinde confession of BJP and RSS terrorist camps) in UNSC and OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries),” Saeed said in a series of tweets after Shinde’s remarks.
The Sangh Parivar also called Shinde’s remarks a motivated attempt by the Home Minister to influence investigations in the Samjhauta attack and other similar cases.
“The Home Minister of our country spoke in such language calling Hindus as terrorists, it is unpardonable, we take very strong exception to it. I believe that the statement of the Home Minister is actually intended to influence the investigations that are going on into the bomb blast cases,” RSS leader Ram Madhav said.
The BJP indicated that the remarks by Shinde, who is also the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, will have an impact on the forthcoming session of Parliament. The party has already announced nation-wide protests against the remarks on January 24.
Prasad described the Home Minister’s remarks in the presence of PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia as part of the Congress’s “rank vote bank politics” and sought to know whether both endorsed his remarks. He reminded that in 2010, the Congress had rebuffed the then home minister’s remarks on “saffron terrorism” and asked that the Congress disapprove of his remarks now.
“In August 2010, Congress spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi had rebuffed Home Minister P Chidambaram for linking terror to saffron colour. If this party was against the use of phrase ‘saffron terror’, we would like to know whether Sonia Gandhi and the Congress approve of Shinde’s remarks now,” Prasad asked.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley demanded that Shinde furnish evidence. “Shinde has to prove what he has said, otherwise he has to withdraw the remarks or apologise,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha told reporters in West Bengal.
The Congress, however, remained unfazed and again backed Shinde. “For years the media and political parties called me mad when I said the RSS was linked to terror. Today I am very happy that this has been officially stated by the Home Minister himself,” Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said. “The Home Minister has said the same things that I was saying for the past 11 years. There are some people in the RSS who are providing training for terrorist activities, and are themselves involved in such activities. He said this because he has evidence. The fact has been proved, investigation is going on, and some people have been arrested in the matter,” he added.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath also appeared to be defending Shinde, saying: “These are BJP tactics to divert attention from its internal turmoil.”
After Shinde remark, Lashkar-e-Toiba chief (@HafizSaeedJUD) tweets ‘India exposed...’
* Allah has exposed India from within – There can be no larger evidence than Shinde’s statement.
* No other room is left for India, should be declared as a terrorist state. Myth busted about Secular India.
* India stands completely Naked. We have been saying it since a long time but the world never believed
* Who else knows better than the Home Minister, under whom comes the whole responsibility of running a country.
* Shindes confession, is a enormous reality. Unfortunately Pakistan's govt is not playing a responsible role
* Whereas courts acquitted me from 2611, while Indian Terror Orgs are directly implicated by their Home Minister