Top BJP brass held at Jantar Mantar during protest against Shinde

Rajnath Singh
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including national president Rajnath Singh, were detained by Delhi Police at the Jantar Mantar here on Wednesday during the protest against Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde over his ''saffron terror'' remark.

Scores of BJP party workers and supporters have gathered at the Jantar Mantar here to vent their ire against the Home Minister.

Staging a strong protest over Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's "saffron terror" remarks, the BJP said the comments were part of a conspiracy to divide the nation for votebank politics and demanded an apology.

Stepping up the attack on Shinde ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament starting tomorrow, BJP President Rajnath Singh questioned the Home Minister's intentions in making such a provocative statement.

"This comment of the Home Minister is part of a conspiracy to divide the nation for votebank politics," Singh said, addressing a large number of protesting party workers at Parliament Street here today.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the Congress was indulging in "communal polarisation" through such remarks.

"The Congress and UPA votebank is contracting. Shinde wants to divide the nation on the basis of religion. They are trying to indulge in communal polarisation. The Home Minister made this statement with the intention of dividing the nation for votes and seek the votebank of a particular religion," Jaitley said, addressing the protesting partymen.

Jaitley questioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on how they have allowed such a Home Minister, who is giving Pakistan a reason to say that India is running terror camps, to function.

Singh also questioned the intentions of Shinde to make such provocative comment and appealed to the countrymen "to understand the conspiracy behind making such a statement."

He accused the Congress of doing votebank politics and warned the government "not to play with the sentiments of people for the sake of votes."

"Don't think Indians as votes and votebanks," Singh said, adding that the Indian population will not allow such a thing.

Jaitley said the BJP has taken to the streets against Shinde for his remarks and unless he takes them back and make a public apology the party will not let him do politics.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar earlier in the day said Shinde's remarks have created outrage over the country.

"Pakistan has welcomed Shinde's remark. So, this is exactly what he has done to serve his masters. He has given a handle to Pakistan to beat India. And to say that India is the epicentre of terror and whatever is happening in Pakistan is happening because of this Indian terror. So, he has actually given a handle to the Pakistanis and (it is) most unfortunate. In 65 years of independent India nobody has equated religion with terror, but that Shinde has done," said Javadekar.

"And more so, he has criticised BJP and RSS that they are running the training camps. We are the principle opposition party, then how he can have a meeting with us, how can he have a meeting with the terrorists those who run terrorist camps. And that is why we have said if you have proof, arrest us and take action. As you don''t have proof, you have to apologise, you have to taker back your remarks and that is what we are demanding," he added.

Javadekar further accused the ruling Congress Party of playing vote bank politics, and demanded an apology from the Home Minister.

"With a month now practically, the Congress wants to play politics over it and does not want to make a simple regret or withdrawal of remark or apology because they are into a vote bank politics now. And that is why we are taking demonstration today and we will raised this issue in Parliament also," he added.

The decision to carry out a protest march against Shinde, who had made the controversial remarks at a Congress conclave in Jaipur last month, was taken at a BJP Parliamentary Executive Committee meeting yesterday.

The BJP top brass yesterday also discussed the party's strategy for the Budget Session of Parliament, which begins tomorrow.

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