New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh's accusation that the term "Hindu terrorism" was coined during UPA rule unleashed a war of words today with Congress alleging distortion and that it was being raised by BJP to "polarise" the country while the latter raked up Rahul Gandhi's remarks on radical groups.
Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde, the former Union Home Minister, denied having used the word "Hindu terrorism" in Parliament during the UPA tenure.
Former Union Ministers P Chidambaram and Ghulam Nabi Azad attacked Singh for accusing Congress of weakening the fight against terror by coining the term "Hindu terrorism". Singh made the accusation in Parliament yesterday.
Chidambaram accused Singh of resorting to a completely distorting Hindu terror remarks to blame the then UPA regime.
He said Shinde as Home Minister in the UPA government had questioned Hindu terror in a very different context but Singh's statement was a completely diversionary argument.
Chidambaram said Shinde made a statement outside Parliament and did not use the phrase Hindu terror in the manner in which Rajnath Singh was quoting.
"What he (Shinde) was referring to was the right wing extremist groups and some of them were charged in several bomb blast cases, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and one or two other cases.
"Many of those charged had very close links with the RSS.
In fact, a few were even members of the RSS and that is all part of the chargesheet in the investigation," he said.
Chidambaram said Shinde had questioned Hindu terror but in a very different context where he was contrasting the other terrorist groups, which owed allegiance to some other religion.
"But I don't think he branded terrorism as Hindu terrorism. I think Rajnath Singh is completely distorting the statement," he said.
Azad said there was no need for anybody to lecture Congress on fighting terror.
The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha told reporters that the Home Minister was attempting to create polarisation by talking about "Hindu terrorism" and diverting attention away from the "failures" of the government.
Shinde said the NDA government was trying to divert attention from its own "inaction" in handling terrorism in the wake of the Gurdaspur attack.
"I never used the word Hindu terrorism in Parliament. I had used it in the Jaipur session of Congress but I withdrew it immediately," Shinde told reporters in Pune.
BJP leader and Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad raked up the reported comments of Rahul Gandhi in which he allegedly said radicalised Hindu groups may be bigger threat than the local support for Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.(LeT).
Prasad quoted a news report to claim that Rahul, in a 2010 conversation with the then US ambassador, had said "there was evidence of some support for Laskar-e-Taiba among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community". The report was based on documents released by Wikileaks.
Terrorism had no religion and colour and BJP never uses the term 'Muslim terror' but 'jihadi terror', Prasad said, asking Congress President Sonia Gandhi to clarify on her son's comments. "Does she support his comments?? Prasad asked.