Under fire from the principal opposition party, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Wednesday expressed ‘regret’ over his remarks that suggested RSS and BJP were involved in training terrorists.
Shinde’s clarification came hours after leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj threatened to stall the budget session of Parliament if he did not tender an apology, even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked opposition parties to cooperate during the session that starts Thursday.
“I had no intention to link terrorism with any religion... My statement given in Jaipur last month has created a misunderstanding,” Shinde said.
“Since a controversy has been created, I am expressing regret to those who felt hurt by my statement,” the home minister added.
BJP later said it “accepted” Shinde’s statement, but not before slamming him for his earlier comments, which the party claims was used by Pakistan-based terror outfits.
“It (Shinde’s statement) should be seen as a lesson for those who every now and then make such baseless allegations,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
At an all-party meeting on Wednesday, Swaraj said: “If we are a terror organisation, we don’t have the right to sit inside Parliament.” Other leaders, including Trinamool’s Sudip Bandopadhyay and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, also advised the government to resolve the issue before the session begins.
The draft of Shinde’s apology was reportedly discussed after the all-party meeting when he, along with parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath, huddled with BJP leaders Swaraj and LK Advani for half an hour.
Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar also asked Shinde – in what seemed like a subtle reference to the ongoing ‘Hindu terror’ controversy — to be “ready for homework as this is long session”.
The NDA allies also held a strategy session at Advani’s residence. While this issue is over for the party, the opposition plans to corner the government on the Choppergate scandal on the first day of the session.