Rajnath targets Shinde, Gadkari tax officials

New Delhi, Jan. 24: Rajnath Singh began his innings as BJP president with a protest against the "saffron terror" tag on the party and the RSS, while predecessor Nitin Gadkari started his stint out of the post with a threat to taxmen probing his businesses.

Rajnath declared today he would fight the battle in the "streets and Parliament" against the "saffron terror" remark of home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, taking up the cudgels on behalf of the RSS that swung the job for him and gifted him a second stint as BJP chief.

The agitation was off the blocks this morning, with Rajnath addressing a protest meeting in Delhi's Jantar Mantar along with senior colleague and Lok Sabha Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj.

The two demanded an apology from Sonia Gandhi over Shinde's allegations. Rajnath declared the protests would continue until the home minister was sacked and warned the BJP would stall the budget session if the demand wasn't met.

BSP president and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati waded into the terror row, slamming Shinde, maintaining his statements were made in "haste" and demanding he place the facts on the BJP-RSS's "involvement" in terror cases in court if he had such details.

Mayawati, who has been courting the state's upper castes to shore up support after losing power last year, claimed Hindus were "very agitated and very angry" over Shinde's comments.

In Nagpur, Gadkari cast himself as a mard (macho man) and warned income-tax officers probing his Purti group's finances, saying "nobody would save them when the BJP comes to power".

"Mard hoon. Dekh loonga. I-T department yaad rakhe, BJP ki sarkar aayi, tab kahan jaoge? Congress mein ek malkin hai, baaki sab naukar hain (I will see you all. The I-T department had better remember that if the BJP comes to power, where will it go? The Congress has one proprietor, the rest are all lackeys)," Gadkari was quoted as telling supporters at the Nagpur airport, arriving in his hometown for the first time since he failed to get a second term.

He also described himself as a "free" man, saying he had to "work and talk within boundaries" as long as he was BJP chief. The Congress dismissed the remarks. "There is no question of the BJP coming to power," spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said in Delhi.

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