BJP, RSS behind Samjhauta blasts: Indian minister
NEW DELHI: Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde accused the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) on Sunday of promoting Hindu terrorism, which in turn was responsible for the fatal bombings of the Samjhauta Express among other Muslim targets.
Mr Shinde was quoted by The Hindu on its website as telling Congress party delegates in Jaipur that the government was keeping a strict vigil on the terror activities of the two organisations.
Addressing the party session on the final day of the brainstorming conclave, where Congress scion Rahul Gandhi was given the second highest party post after party president Sonia Gandhi, 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.”
Mr Shinde’s unusually strident stance against “Hindu terror” echoed the WikiLeaks revelation in which Mr Gandhi was heard as complaining to the then US ambassador about the threat to India from the saffron surge.
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. Both blamed the minority community for the crime, he said.
Mr Shinde’s remarks drew an angry reaction from the BJP, which demanded an unconditional apology, but Congress leaders attending the conclave defended him and said rightwing 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, The Hindu report said.