BJP demands apology, Shinde's sacking; Congress refuses

New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) An angry BJP Monday renewed its attack on Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for his comments on "Hindu terror" and demanded his sacking and an apology from the ruling party even as the Congress outrightly rejected the demand.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said Shinde's remarks were irresponsible and condemnable, and accused the Congress of practicing vote-bank politics.

"I condemn it strongly, very forcefully. It is a malicious comment by a light-weight home minister who does not know what he is talking," said Prasad.

The BJP will hold protests across the country Jan 24 against Shinde's remarks and also burn effigies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, he said.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said there was "no question of sacking (Shinde) or apologising".

"Shinde has clarified that he meant the Mecca Masjid, Samjhauta and Malegaon blasts... all the people involved are in jail, and he said that this fact is in the papers," Alvi told IANS.

The home minister set off a controversy Sunday when he accused the BJP and its mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), of conducting terror training camps and promoting "Hindu terrorism".

"Shinde has to prove what he has said, otherwise he has to withdraw the remark or apologize," said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

He repeated the BJP's accusation of the Congress always being "soft on terror".

"Congress which withdrew POTA has always been soft towards terrorists and terrorism instead of taking a hard stand," Jaitley said.

"That was why Shinde's hand was trembling to sign (the order) on the person who launched the attack on parliament and whose death sentence was upheld by Supreme Court," Jaitley said.

He said the entire country knows that the BJP and RSS are symbols of nationalism. "BJP is a party which always stood against terrorism," he said.

In his speech at the Congress party's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur, Shinde said: "After investigations, we have seen that be it the BJP or the RSS, their training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism. This is a matter of concern. We are keeping a strict eye on it."

The minister later clarified that he had only stated what has been appearing in the media and his reference was to "saffron terrorism".

"What is the meaning of linking a pious word like saffron with terrorism?" Prasad said and added that the BJP and the RSS had never said that those guilty of terror acts should not be punished.

Prasad said Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should give an "unconditional apology" and Shinde "should be sacked". He said elements supporting terror in Pakistan "will be the happiest" with Shinde's remarks.

He also attacked Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh over his remark about "Sanghi terrorism."

The RSS also hit out at Shinde, terming him the "darling of terrorists".

RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said Shinde's comment on Hindu terror has made "real terrorists" like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) very happy and they have welcomed it.

"Today the Jamat-ud-Dawa etc. congratulated Shinde. Now he has become the darling of real terrorists," Madhav tweeted.

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