Within an hour of accusing the RSS and BJP of promoting Hindu terrorism, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was on Sunday forced to tone down the charge after a sharp reaction from the opposition party.
“Training camps of both the BJP and the RSS are promoting Hindu terrorism. Whether it is Samjhauta blast or Mecca Masjid blast or Malegaon blast, they plant bombs and blame it on the minorities,” he said on the last day of the Congress Chintan Shivir (brain-storming session) in Jaipur.
“It is saffron terrorism that I have talked about. It is the same thing and nothing new. It has come in the media several times,” Shinde later clarified when the BJP leaders condemned his statement.
“Saffron is the antonym of terrorism. Saffron is the symbol of our traditions, culture, renunciation and sacrifices,” BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, demanding an apology from the home minister.
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi termed Shinde's remarks “objectionable, dangerous and unfortunate”, forcing Congress leaders to step in.
“I want to make it clear that he (Shinde) meant right-wing terrorism. There is no Hindu or Muslim terrorism,” Rajiv Shukla, union parliamentary affairs minister, said.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said “it was not Hindu terrorism but Sangh-backed terrorism”.
Former home minister P Chidambaram had similarly found himself at the centre of a controversy in August 2010 after he spoke about “the recently uncovered phenomenon of saffron terrorism”.
The Congress distanced itself from the remark, saying terrorism did not have any colour other than black.