Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s charge that the UPA government weakened the fight against terrorism by coining the expression “Hindu terror” triggered a political storm Saturday. The Congress hit back, saying that the hostage-terrorist trade-off in Kandahar during the BJP rule had weakened the resolve against terror.
Rajnath had said that Sushil Kumar Shinde had spoken of “Hindu terror” in 2013 in the Parliament. Reacting to the statement, Shinde said he made the remark not on the floor of the House, but at the AICC meet in January 2013. “I never used the word Hindu terrorism in Parliament. I had used it in the Jaipur session of Congress but withdrew it immediately,” the former Home Minister said in Pune.
Speaking at the chintan shivir of Congress, Shinde had said, “There are instances of injustice meted out to minorities…we are looking into that… But in between, an investigation report came to me which shows that whether it is the BJP or the RSS, they are trying to promote Hindu terrorism… We are keeping a tight watch on this also.”
“Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid blast, Malegaon blast…(They) go and plant bombs and then say minorities have done this…,” he had further said.
The BJP had then objected to his remarks and on the eve of the 2013 Budget session, Shinde had expressed regret over his remarks after the BJP threatened to disrupt the session if he did not issue an apology.
Shinde said Saturday that the NDA government was trying to divert attention from its “inaction” in handling terrorism in the wake of the Gurdaspur attack and claimed that terrorism in the country got a boost after the Kandahar episode. Shinde said Kandahar was followed by attacks on the Jammu and Kashmir assembly and the Parliament. Terrorists got emboldened during the NDA rule and not during the UPA’s, because of “inaction” on part of the government, he said. Shinde also said that the decision on the hanging of the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon should not have been made public. “When terrorists killed people, did they make a public announcement in advance?,” he asked.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said Rajnath had quoted Shinde out of context. Referring to the former Home Minister’s statement, he said Shinde was “trying to educate Congress workers that the party does not believe in associating one religion or one set of people with extremism and terrorism.”
The Congress leader said the fight against terrorism was not weakened by a phrase. “The fight was weakened when the NDA government… released dreaded terrorists like Masood Azhar… You (BJP) took them in a government plane and handed them over to enemies in a foreign soil… The resolve is shown not in statements, but in actions,” he said.
“It is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Home Minister… to divide the country, to rake up debate between two religions, to divert attention of the people from its failures to effectively counter the threat of terrorism and to use parliamentary forum to abuse and defame its opponents particularly the Congress Party,” he said. “This is yet another attempt by the BJP and Home Minister to polarise the nation in the name of the religion,” he added.
Azad said the BJP seemed to be worried that investigations into the Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express blasts had revealed that those involved had links with the ruling party or RSS.