The controversy over Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's Hindu terror remark refuses to die down with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ion Thursday saying that he should have ‘at least apologised’ and Congress insisting that his ‘regret’ does not mean his statement was factually incorrect.
Party spokesperson P C Chacko suggested the expression of regret by Shinde on Wednesday was aimed at ensuring a smooth Budget session in which the government wants a number of key bills to be passed.
"His (Shinde's) statement may not be factually incorrect but if his statements have hurt any political party, we did not want to go in a fighting mood.... the home minister was speaking on the basis of some fact but even then if he hurt the feelings some political party, it was not his intent and the home minister has clarified that.
"The government is very positive and taking (into account) even the minute sentiments of the Opposition.... How can the home minister make a statement without facts. He can not make a statement without facts to substantiate them.It might not be factually incorrect but we did not want to hurt the sentiments of any party," Chacko said in reply to a volley of questions on the issue.
The Congress leader also dismissed suggestions of Shinde backtracking from his comments about RSS' alleged involvement in running terror camps made at the Congress Chintan Shivir.
"He has never denied it. If he has denied what he said in Jaipur, then you can ask it...there is no contradiction (in Shinde's statements) but we (political parties) are working in a spirit of dialogue and discussion," he said.
Chacko, at the same time, said that the matter stands resolved after Shinde's statement yesterday. "My information is that it is to the satisfaction of the opposition party" he said adding "merely because of the wording of a statement, somebody should not object to it".
The RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party seem divided on the issue, as the main opposition party has put a lid on the controversy accepting the regret statement issued by Shinde on Wednesday over his controversial remark but RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said that Shinde should ‘at least feel sorry’ for his remarks and ‘apologise’ and not just merely regretted".
The Congress spokesperson categorically ruled out any U-turn by Shinde on the issue. "There is no question of any U-turn. BJP felt that their sentiments were hurt....That
situation, we had to sort out... So probably the home minister made the statement...that does not mean that the home minister had said anything wrong," Chacko said while replying to questions on the issue.
"Rejection (of Shinde's expression of regret by the RSS) is not warranted in the light of the home minister's statement. But it is up to them (BJP). They have to decide. My information is that it is satisfactory to the Opposition," Chacko said.
The Congress leader also evaded direct replies to some questions like whether he meant to say that the home minister would not have expressed his regret had the government not faced the compulsion of Parliament session.
"Very imaginative question...it is no strategy" was his short response to the question that whether Shinde's statement expressing regret a day before the Budget session was to begin was a strategic exercise aimed at buying peace with the main opposition party to ensure that the legislative business is carried out.
To a question on whether this did not amount to ‘cheating’, Chacko shot back "who can cheat them. They know the nuisances of everything. It is common understanding. There is no contradiction. There is no cheating."
Ahead of the Budget session of Parliament, the BJP had staged a protest yesterday and threatened to boycott Shinde in Parliament till he retracted his statement.
In an effort to avert confrontation in Parliament, Shinde on Wednesday issued a statement expressing regret over his 'Hindu terror' remark and said his comment had been misunderstood.
After his statement, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "We accept this regret from the Home Minister but this ought to have come much earlier...."