On eve of budget session, Shinde 'regrets' saffron terror remarks

Sushilkumar Shinde

Exactly a month after his remarks on "saffron terror" had the BJP up in arms, Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde expressed regret on Wednesday, buying peace with the Opposition party on the eve of the Budget Session of Parliament. The BJP had earlier threatened to disrupt Parliament if Shinde did not issue an apology.

In his statement today, Shinde clarified that he did not wish to link any organisation or religious group with terror. "My statement given in Jaipur last month had created a misunderstanding. It has been understood to mean that I was linking terrorism to a particular religion and was accusing certain organisations of being involved in organising terror camps," he said.

"I had no intention to link terrorism with any religion. There is no basis for suggesting that terrorism could be linked with the organisations mentioned in my brief speech at Japur. Since a controversy has been created on account of my statement, I am issuing this clarification and expressing regret to those who felt hurt by my statement," he added.

He was referring to his remarks at a party meeting in Jaipur on January 20, where he had said "reports have come during investigation that BJP and RSS conduct terror training camps to spread terrorism". He had later called it "saffron terrorism".

Shinde's statement today followed his meeting with Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath earlier in the day. Sources said they jointly worked out a broad formulation which formed the basis of the Home minister's statement.

The three leaders went into a huddle immediately after an all-party meeting called by Speaker Meira Kumar, where Swaraj took a tough line on the issue. "As the custodian of the House, we seek your protection as the Home minister, who is also Leader of the House, has alleged that the BJP is running terror camps... If we are doing so, then I have no right to be the Leader of Opposition and BJP members should not be allowed to sit in the House...We should be probed," Swaraj told Meira Kumar, adding that Shinde should otherwise withdraw his remarks and tender an apology.

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