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Lashkar fans Shinde row

New Delhi, Jan. 21: The BJP today demanded Sushil Kumar Shinde’s head and the Sangh dubbed him the “darling of real terrorists” as Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz Saeed welcomed the home minister’s remark on “Hindu terrorism”.

At the Congress’s Jaipur conclave, Shinde had accused the BJP and the RSS of conducting terror training camps and instigating “Hindu terrorism”.

Saeed today tweeted: “World should take notice and declare India a state that is supporting terror on its soil after its HM Shinde candidly confessed. Shinde has spoken truth finally, we consider this a help from Allah SWT (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) for Pakistan which is always alleged by India for terrorism.”

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s endorsement of Shinde’s allegation and his use of the honorific “sahab” while referring to Saeed too infuriated the Sangh.

“Hafiz Saeed Sahib, Osamaji, Dawood ‘bhaiyya’ are so happy with Congress for declaring Hindus as terrorists,” Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav tweeted.

“Jai ho griha mantri of Bharat (Victory to the Indian home minister). It is Shinde who is helping our enemies with such statements…he has become the darling of real terrorists.”

Yesterday, Shinde had “clarified” that he had meant not “Hindu” terrorism but “saffron” terrorism. BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad took this up at a news briefing today.

He reminded Shinde that his predecessor, P. Chidambaram, had been contradicted by Congress media cell chief Janardhan Dwivedi when he referred to “saffron terror” in 2010.

Dwivedi had said that terrorism had no colour because it was “completely black”. Mindful of the colour’s religious significance to Hindus, he had cited its association with the history of the freedom struggle and “mythology”.

Echoing Dwivedi, Prasad said: “We will never say ‘Muslim terrorism’. Terrorism is terrorism, regardless of faith.”

He directed a question at Sonia Gandhi: “As the most important leader in the Congress, why do you allow your leaders to play around with Hindu sentiments?”

Prasad sought an apology from Sonia and the Prime Minister for the Congress’s “repeated insults to Hindus and to saffron”.

However, the BJP is unlikely to raise the pitch beyond a point though its workers are itching to hit the streets. The Sangh too reined in its cadre although activists of an outfit called the Hindu Sena held a small protest outside Shinde’s home today.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has threatened to burn Shinde’s effigy at Jantar Mantar and asked the mahants gathered at the Kumbh Mela for advice on “appropriate” action against him.

Rather than jump into the ring, the BJP will let the Hindu Sena and the Parishad test the waters, sources said.

For now, the BJP will tom-tom that no sooner had the country recovered from the “trauma” of Pakistani troops crossing the frontier and killing two Indian jawans than the Congress had chosen to “appease” the neighbour by resurrecting the “Hindu terror” charge.

Party insiders claimed that Shinde’s allegations reflected a “bigger” Congress design to polarise the electorate before the Lok Sabha polls.

“The mild-mannered Shinde is hardly a candidate to make such strong statements. He had not uttered a word on the so-called saffron terror so far. Suddenly, in the middle of a political conclave, he thinks it appropriate to raise the issue!” said a BJP source.

“Let us not forget the backdrop. The Congress was lambasted by Muslim outfits in Jaipur for not doing enough for the community, for fomenting violence against them, for not acting against rioters. It has to address this constituency and this, apparently, is its strategy.”

Various Muslim-majority parties such as Andhra Pradesh’s Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Assam’s All India United Democratic Front have recently slammed the Congress for “failing” to contain the Sangh-BJP and leaving Muslims “vulnerable” to their attacks.

The BJP believes that the Congress’s other objective is to politically isolate it by sowing doubts in the minds of uneasy allies like the Janata Dal (United) and prospective partners such as the Biju Janata Dal and the Telugu Desam.