BJP demands Sonia, Rahul s apology for defaming Hindus globally (Lead)
New Delhi April 17 (IANS) The BJP on Tuesday hit out at the Congress for coining the term "saffron terror" to defame the Hindus "globally" and sought an apology from its top leadership even though the opposition party had a day earlier denied the charge.
It also cited a telegram sourced from WikiLeaks to attack Congress President Rahul Gandhi in which he had long earlier allegedly said that "saffron terror was a bigger threat than the Lashkar-e-Taiba".
"(Congress leaders) Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should apologise to the Hindu community for defaming them globally and taking the Hindus for granted. You can t take the Hindus for granted. We believe in development of all and appeasement of none " Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference he addressed along with newly-elected Rajya Sabha member G.V.L. Narsimha Rao.
Patra had on Monday also accused the Congress of coining the term and sought an apology from its leadership. However the Congress had maintained that neither Rahul Gandhi nor any other party functionary had ever used the term "saffron terror" and that its political rivals were levelling "baseless allegations".
On Tuesday Patra demanded an apology from former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for allegedly using the term "saffron terror".
The BJP leader said: "Rahul Gandhi and Chidambaram should hold a joint press conference and speak on the issue."
Dubbing Gandhi s thinking as "anti-Hindu" the BJP leader said a telegram sent in 2009 by then US Ambassador Tim Roemer to the US State Department mentioned that "Rahul Gandhi told the US envoy that there was some support for the Lashkar-e-Taiba in certain sections of India s Muslims but the bigger threat may be of the rise of radical homegrown Hindu groups which create tension".
"This is the position of the Congress. Rahul Gandhi needs to answer all these questions. We demand that he should seek apology for what he told the US Ambassador against the Hindus. He can t just say that it was a passing statement and nothing to do with the party " Patra said.
He said that if the Congress considers India to be its own then Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi must apologise to the whole country for defaming the great Hindu religion by trying to prove that there was something called "saffron terror".
The fresh war of words between the two parties on the term "saffron terror" began after a Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Hyderabad acquitted all five accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case on Monday.