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'Do you consider us terrorists?'

Last updated on: January 27, 2013 18:57 IST
Rajnath Singh with senior BJP leader L K Advani

In a scathing attack on Sushilkumar Shinde over his 'Hindu terror' remarks, Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh has said the Union home minister had hurt India's image by his comments.

He also dared him to ban the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and BJP and arrest all their leaders if there was any evidence against these organisations.

Questioning the silence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the remarks, the BJP chief made it clear that his party will continue its "oust-Shinde" campaign even in the Budget Session of Parliament, which is expected to begin in the third week of February.

"If, as the home minister, you think that the RSS and BJP are churning out terrorists, then we have also attended such training camps. Are we also terrorists? Do you consider us terrorists? Then put us also in jail," Singh told PTI in an interview, while reacting sharply to Shinde's comments.

In a poser to the home minister, the BJP leader said, "If you consider the RSS and BJP to be terrorist organisations, why don't you ban them? If you have evidence against them, why don't you reveal that evidence?"

At the Congress Chintan Shivir in Jaipur recently, Shinde had accused the RSS and BJP of promoting terrorism at their training camps.

Singh alleged that Shinde had made the comments because of vote-bank politics.

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'Hasn't India's image suffered a setback?'

Last updated on: January 27, 2013 18:57 IST
JuD chief Hafiz Saeed

Asked about Home Secretary R K Singh citing certain names in connection with the bombings in support of the 'Hindu terror' remarks of Shinde, Singh said the RSS is a big organisation and someone may have attended a camp at some time.

"That doesn't mean the entire organization is a terrorist organisation. It is possible that such a person may have been associated in the past with the Congress also. The law should take its course against those held guilty. But the whole organisation should not be held responsible for the isolated acts of a few. Even in a family, when someone commits a crime, you don't call the entire family a criminal one," the BJP chief said.

Noting that Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed had utilised Shinde's remarks to target India, he said it was unfortunate that the comments made by the Indian home minister was being supported by the head of a terrorist organisation in Pakistan.

"Hafiz Saeed, who heads the JuD, has tried to tell the whole world that India is a terrorist state. Hasn't India's image suffered a setback at the international level," Rajnath Singh said.

He also termed the silence of the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi over the issue "unfortunate".

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'They are playing vote-bank politics'

Last updated on: January 27, 2013 18:57 IST
Sushilkumar Shinde

"We have asked the PM to express regret over Shinde's statement and withdraw it. He and Sonia Gandhi have maintained silence. If the PM cannot speak up when the reputation of the country is on the line, then when will he speak? And if the Congress president doesn't react to an issue concerning India's image, then when will she react," Rajnath Singh asked.

He said agencies of the whole world are saying that Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other terrorist organisations were behind the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts, but the Indian home minister is saying that the RSS and the BJP are behind these.

"The home minister's statement, which has dimmed India's global reputation, has been made solely with vote-bank politics in mind. The Congress is not concerned if such remarks dent the country's reputation and its image globally. They are concerned with only one thing -- somehow they should retain power. They are playing vote-bank politics," he said.

Contending that the remarks reflected the Congress' "desperation", the BJP chief said politics should not be played just because the party wanted to come back to power.

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'We don't want to disrupt parliamentary proceedings'

Last updated on: January 27, 2013 18:57 IST
Rajnath Singh

Asked what options the BJP had on the issue, Singh said the party would raise the matter prominently both outside and inside Parliament during the forthcoming session.

"We don't want to disrupt parliamentary proceedings. But we will confront the government on this issue of national pride, and corruption. The responsibility of running Parliament smoothly lies with the ruling party. The opposition parties, acting as watchdogs on the government, expect that the questions they raise related to the country's reputation are answered satisfactorily," he said.

Accusing the Union home minister of undermining national pride with his remarks, Singh said, "It is very unfortunate. What will happen if our PM and ruling party chairperson do not speak on issues concerning national pride."

Singh said not just members of the Hindu community but nationalist Muslims had also criticised Shinde's remarks.

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