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Red-faced Congress downplays Rahul's comment

December 17, 2010 15:21 IST

Coming under attack after his reported statement that 'radicalised Hindu groups' posed a bigger threat than outfits like Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday diluted his comments by saying that terrorism and communalism of all types are a threat to India.

"Rahul Gandhi's view is that terrorism and communalism of all types are a threat to India. We need to remain vigilant against acts of terrorism of all kinds no matter who commits them," All India Congress Committee General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi said in a release issued on his behalf.

The statement came hours after the Congress grappled with the issue of the WikiLeaks cable, which claimed that Rahul Gandhi had told United States Ambassador Timothy Roemer that growth of 'radicalised Hindu groups' which create religious tensions in India could pose a bigger threat to the country than activities of groups like Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

This in a way is the first acknowledgement from the Congress that Gandhi had indeed talked to Roemer on the issue. The initial reaction of the Congress on the issue was one of dilemma, with party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi saying, "We will respond to it after verifying the facts. There is no reason to react in an excited manner. The issue should first be looked into and verified".

Dwivedi, who is also AICC media department chairman, had first blamed a conspiracy behind the release of WikiLeaks cable, saying, "Let us verify the truth. Maybe there is some conspiracy behind the pattern with which this is being done."

Singhvi added, "I am not questioning anything and I am questioning everything".

To a query on whether the party is distancing itself from Rahul Gandhi's remarks, Singhvi said, "The question does not arise. It is your interpretation."

According to a secret US diplomatic cable from New Delhi released by WikiLeaks, at a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in July 2009, the Congress general secretary was asked by the US ambassador about LeT's activities in the region and immediate threat to India.

"Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community," the cable notes.

"However, Gandhi warned, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community," it says.

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