New Delhi, Jan 20: The BJP has strongly condemned the Union Home Minister's remark on the role played by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in "saffron terror". Sushilkumar Shinde had accused the RSS of being involved in the Samjhauta Express, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts.
Addressing the Chintan Shivir of the Congress at Jaipur, the home minister alleged that the training camps run by RSS and BJP were promoting terrorism. According to Shinde, it was RSS activists who planted bombs at several places and later blamed members of the minority community for the same.
Slamming these remarks as "most unfortunate", BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi hit out at the Congress leadership. He dubbed the ruling party as a "congregation of cowards" and rued: "Terrorists are sneaking into India, putting to death our soldiers and yet we are greeting them with roses."
His reference was to the recent killing of two jawans at the Line of Control. Lance Naik Hemraj of the 13 Rajputana Rifles was beheaded by Pakistani troops in the Mendhar sector on Jan 8.
Naqvi warned that "If Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi do not apologise immediately, there would be grave consequences." He stressed that Shinde must not disturb the prevailing communal harmony by making such dangerous comments.
The reaction of RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav was similar. "If a Congress leader had said something like this it wouldn't have mattered so much, but for the home minister to say something like this is highly irresponsible," he noted.
Congress leaders defended their party colleague. While Mani Shankar Aiyar backed Shinde fully, Digvijay Singh claimed that the RSS is linked to terrorists.
In an effort to downplay the controversy generated by Shinde's speech, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla averred that there is no such thing as Muslim terrorism or Hindu terrorism.
The home minister issued a clarification too. "I only highlighted the saffron terrorism that has been mentioned in the media several times," Shinde said.