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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said that Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should apologise for defaming Hindus "globally" and cited a telegram sourced from Wikileaks to back its demand. The fresh war of words between BJP and Congress on the term "saffron terror" broke out after a Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Hyderabad acquitted right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case on Monday. "If 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," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference. He showed a telegram sourced from Wikileaks quoting a conversation during the former Congress-led UPA government between former US ambassador and Rahul Gandhi. According to the transcript of the conversation, Rahul Gandhi said saffron terror was a bigger threat than the Lashkar-e-Taiba. "This shows the mindset of Rahul Gandhi towards Hindus. His party has always take Hindus for granted," Patra said. Sambit Patra said on Monday that people would teach the Congress a lesson in the Karnataka Assembly polls as they had in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when it was reduced to 44 seats. "For its appeasement politics, the Congress targeted and defamed Hindus and the country for merely some votes. That conspiracy has been exposed. The Congress has been exposed like never before," he had said after the verdict came in. A massive blast had ripped through the Mecca Masjid on May 8, 2007, during Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding 58. The case was initially probed by the local police before being transferred to the CBI, and finally to the country's premier anti-terror investigation agency NIA in 2011. Here are the top 10 developments on BJP slamming Congress after Mecca case verdict: 1. Congress has long ‘defamed’ Hindus for votes, says BJP: Soon after an anti-terror court in Hyderabad acquitted Swami Assemanand and four others in the 2007 blast case, the BJP alleged that the Congress has long "defamed" Hindus for votes and demanded that Rahul and his predecessor Sonia Gandhi apologise for their party leaders using in the past terms like "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror." 2. Rahul had termed Hindus as a bigger threat than LeT, says BJP: Referring to a telegram sourced from Wikileaks, Patra said that during the UPA regime the Congress party president Rahul Gandhi, in a conversation with then US Ambassador Tim Roemer, had labeled Hindu community as a bigger threat than the Lashkar-e-Taiba. "We have the full telegram sent in 2009 by the then US Ambassador Tim Roemer to the US State Department. One the first page is written 'reaching out to Rahul Gandhi and other young parliamentarians. In the telegram it's written that Rahul ji told US envoy 'there was some support for the LeT in certain elements in India's Muslim community, but the bigger threat may be of the rise of radical homegrown Hindu groups which create tension," BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference. "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. 3. ‘Congress coined the term saffron terror’: BJP on Tuesday again criticised the Congress for allegedly coining the term "saffron terror" to defame the Hindus and sought an apology from its leadership, even though the opposition party had on Monday denied the charge. "(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 the development of all and appeasement of none," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference he addressed along with newly elected Rajya Sabha member G V L Narsimha Rao.4. BJP demands apology from Congress: 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." 5) Verdict exposed Congress' appeasement politics, says BJP: The BJP on Monday launched a sharp attack on the Congress after a court acquitted right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, claiming that the opposition party's "appeasement politics" of "defaming" Hindus has been exposed. Reacting to the court verdict, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that the Congress has long "defamed" Hindus for votes and demanded that party president Rahul Gandhi and his predecessor Sonia Gandhi apologise for terms such as "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror". Patra said people will teach the Congress "a lesson" in the Karnataka Assembly polls as they had in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when it was reduced to 44 seats. Hitting back at the Congress leaders for blaming the BJP government for the acquittal of the accused, he alleged that the opposition party has"double standards" and as it had welcomed a court order in favour of accused in the 2G scam case. Patra also noted that the Congress was in power for seven years after the blasts and asked what it had done during the period. 6. Congress denies BJP’s allegations: The Congress had maintained that neither its President Rahul Gandhi nor any other party functionary had ever used the term "saffron terror" and that its political rivals were levelling "baseless allegations". 7) Rahul Gandhi ducks poser: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday dodged a query on acquittal of the accused. Rahul Gandhi, who began this morning his three-day visit to his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi and to the neighbouring Rae Bareli represented by his mother Sonia Gandhi, refused to take the question on the Hyderabad court verdict while emerging out of a programme.
Asked by a reporter to comment on the verdict, Rahul ignored the poser and told his driver to move ahead.8. Mecca Masjid blast case's brief chronology: The blast at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007, during Friday prayers had claimed nine lives and left 58 others injured. After initial investigation by local police, the case was transferred to the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI), which filed a charge sheet. Subsequently, the NIA took over the case from the CBI in 2011. Who were the accused in the case? Ten persons allegedly belonging to right-wing organisations were named as accused in the case. However, only five of them -- Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand (alias Naba Kumar Sarkar), Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar (alias Bharat Bhai), and Rajendra Chowdhary - were arrested and faced trial in the case. Two other accused -- Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra -- are absconding, while another accused Sunil Joshi died. Investigations were continuing against two other accused. Before being acquitted, Swami Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar were out on bail, while three others were lodged in the central prison in Hyderabad under judicial remand. 9. ‘Rahul poses no challenge to BJP’: The Congress led by Rahul Gandhi poses no challenge to Narendra Modi and will find it difficult to win even 40 or 50 seats in the 2019 Parliamentary polls, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said on Tuesday. The party occupies the fourth position in Uttar Pradesh, is behind three or four parties in Bihar and is not a frontrunner in West Bengal, Singh said. Modi has his "magic" and the people of the country stand by him, Singh said, stressing that the BJP would do even better in the next general elections than it did in 2014 because of the NDA government's policies. 10. Congress attacks BJP on cash crunch: Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday slammed the Narendra Modi-led NDA government, saying the “terror of note ban” has once again gripped the nation, as several states reported of ATMs running dry and people facing cash crunch. Rahul Gandhi said that Modi’s demonetisation decision on November 8, 2016, still haunts the country and accused him of “destroying” the banking system. ALSO READ: ATM crisis: Modi snatched our money, gave it to Nirav, says Rahul; updates The Congress chief, who is in his Parliamentary constituency Amethi, took to Twitter to attack Modi, alleging he "snatched" the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes from every Indian's pocket and "gave" it to diamantaire Nirav Modi, but was neither speaking a word about it nor facing the Parliament. He alleged that Narendra Modi did not speak a word when Nirav Modi fled the country after scamming Punjab National Bank of Rs 134 billion (Rs 13,400 crore). He also took a dig at BJP-led Central government's slogan 'Ache Din' and questioned as to when 'these goods days' are going to come.
If Congress considers India to be its own, then Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi must apologize to the whole country for defaming the great Hindu religion by trying to prove that there was something called ‘saffron terror’ : Dr. @sambitswaraj pic.twitter.com/NBEhTllzgL— BJP (@BJP4India) April 17, 2018
With Agency inputs