PM hopes parliament will run smoothly, Shinde retracts remarks (Third Lead)

Wed, Feb 20 2013 22:45 IST | 1 Views | Add your comment
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New Delhi, Feb 20
Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday hoped that parliament's budget session beginning Thursday would run smoothly, even as Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde expressed regret over his "Hindu terrorism" remarks and buried the hatchet with the BJP, which had threatened to disrupt the session on the issue.

"He has retracted, expressed regret. The BJP accepts this statement," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said late Wednesday, paving the way for the resolution of the issue.

Earlier in the day, The prime minister told reporters after an all-party meeting that the parliament session would transact important financial business before the house.

"It is our sincere hope that we will have a productive, constructive debate leading to agreed solutions to the many national problems that our country faces," he said.

"I have said this before and I'll repeat it again. Parliament is the forum for discussions or dialogue and all parties have an obligation to ensure that parliament runs smoothly. I am hopeful and confident that this session is going to be a fruitful session," he said.

The prime minister also said that the country faces many "economical challenges".

"It is my sincere hope that all political parties will join hands to find productive, constructive solutions to the formidable challenges facing our nation," he said.

The all-party meet, called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, was aimed at the smooth functioning of parliament.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj said the party told the meeting that it wanted both the houses to run smoothly but "(Shinde) issue should be resolved first."

The party had been angry over Shinde's remarks that BJP and RSS training camps were promoting terrorism.

Sources said Shinde and Sushma Swaraj met in presence of Meira Kumar after the all-party meeting.

Hours later Shinde came out with statement expressing regret for his "Hindu terrorism" remark.

"Since a controversy has been created on account of my statement, I am issuing this clarification and express regret to those who felt hurt by my statement," Shinde said.

The minister admitted that his statement in Jaipur last month has created a misunderstanding.

"It has been understood to mean that I was linking terrorism to a particular religion and was accusing certain political organizations of being involved in organizing terror camps. I had no intention of linking terrorism with any religion. There is no basis for suggesting that terror could be linked with the organisations mentioned in my brief speech at Jaipur," Shinde said.

"I will continue to perform my duties to the best of my ability to ensure harmony is maintained in the social fabric of India," Shinde added.

The BJP accepted Shinde's statement.

Sitharaman said that Shinde's statement had been "taken undue advantage of by terrorists and their handlers and had compromised national security".

She also targeted Congress leaders who had sought to attack the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on the basis of Shinde's remarks.

Sitharaman said the statement should be seen as a lesson for those who attack the BJP and RSS on the basis of "baseless allegations."

Shinde had made "Hindu terrorism" and "saffron terrorism" remarks at the Congress chintan shivir at Jaipur last month triggering strong protests from BJP and some other organisations.

"Whether it is BJP or RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), their training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism," he had said.

The issue threatened to cast its shadow over the budget session of parliament as the BJP had decided it will not respond to any communication from Shinde as Leader of the House in Lok Sabha.

BJP president Rajnath Singh and colleagues Arun Jaitley, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar had sought to take out a march to protest Shinde's remarks and were detained.

The BJP has announced that it would take on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over bribery allegations on the $750-million (Rs.3,600-crore) VVIP chopper deal. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) intends to raise the helicopter deal in the two houses Feb 22 after the question hour.

Janata Dal-United Sharad Yadav said after a meeting of NDA Wednesday evening that they also wanted a clarification on Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju's remarks about some opposition chief ministers.

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