BJP steps up attack on Shinde, demands his removal

New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) Stepping up its attack on Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde over his remarks on "Hindu terrorism" and "saffron terrorism", the BJP Monday demanded his removal from the cabinet and an unconditional apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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 light-weight home minister who does not know what he is talking," he said.

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

Shinde had referred to Hindu terrorism and saffron terrorism during the Congress conclave in Jaipur Sunday.

"After investigations, we have seen that be it the BJP or the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), their training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism. This is a matter of concern. We are keeping a strict eye on it," Shinde had said in his speech.

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

Prasad said saffron was a pious word in Indian tradition which was linked to the country's spiritual heritage. He said it was also one of the colours in the national flag and was linked to the freedom struggle.

"What is the meaning of linking a pious word 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.

He said the BJP will not tolerate linkage of saffron with terrorism.

Prasad said Gandhi and 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 said Shinde's comments had come when there was anger in the country over brutal killing of two Indian soldiers near Line of Control and decapitation of one of them.

He said that activists of Indian Mujahideen had been arrested for terror acts but the BJP had never linked it to religion.

"Did we ever say Muslim terrorism? Terrorism has no religion," he said.

Accusing the Congress of practising vote-bank politics, Prasad asked why "no action" had been taken on mercy petition of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

He also accused the party of repealing a law "enacted to effectively deal with terrorism" and had not implementing the Supreme Court verdict concerning illegal migration in Assam.

"For vote bank politics, it is repeatedly compromising with terrorism and the country's security," Prasad said.

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

He said the Congress had disapproved former home minister P. Chidambaram's references to saffron terrorism and demanded it come clear on Shinde's remarks.

Attacking Shinde, Prasad said that even Congress members start laughing when the minister speaks in parliament.

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