On eve of budget session, Shinde eats his words on 'saffron terror'

FP

With Shinde expressing regret, the opposition party indicated that it would allow parliament to function. "Today's statement conceded that RSS and BJP do not train terrorists. He, in a way, has retracted his (earlier) statement. BJP accepts this statement. We hope the air will be cleared and attention will go to critical issues before the parliament," said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.

Swaraj said they wanted a discussion on several issues including the VVIP chopper scam, India-Pakistan relations in the backdrop of beheading of two Indian soldiers, the Maldives situation and Maharashtra drought.

The same issues were flagged by NDA convenor Sharad Yadav and BJP deputy leader Gopinath Munde after a meeting of the opposition alliance.

Yadav said the NDA would raise the chopper scam issue in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The BJP is likely to field either Yashwant Sinha or Jaswant Singh to put forth its view. The opposition's strategy is to effectively highlight the wrongdoing, but avoid getting either too shrill or going after any individual without sufficient evidence.

In a bid to pre-empt the opposition's attack, the government has already offered an inquiry into the scam. "The government is willing to have any type of inquiry for which there is a political consensus," said Nath.

On the Suryanelli rape case, the BJP plans to support the Left when it takes on Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien. The government seems inclined to support Kurien. "Kurien's case is very clear...He has been cleared by the Supreme Court... We will not agree to hold a discussion in any house on a subject of state politics," said Nath.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoped that the session would see a "productive and constructive debate leading to agreed solutions" to many national problems. Noting that all parties have an obligation to ensure that parliament runs smoothly, he said: "I am hopeful and confident that this is going to be a fruitful session."

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