Guwahati, Saturday, December 18, 2010

WikiLeaks exposé: Hindu groups bigger threat than LeT: Rahul

 WASHINGTON, Dec 17 – In controversial comments, Rahul Gandhi has told US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer that growth of “radicalised Hindu groups” posed a bigger threat to the country than militant groups like LeT, according to a leaked American diplomatic cable.

 Rahul, during a conversation with the envoy at a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in July 2009 in honour of visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also referred to the tensions created by some of the more polarising figures in the BJP such as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the cable said.

According to a secret US diplomatic cable from New Delhi released by WikiLeaks, the Congress leader shared his views with Roemer on a range of political topics, social challenges, and electoral issues for the Congress party in the next five years.

“Responding to the Ambassador’s query about Lashkar-e-Taiba’s activities in the region and immediate threat to India, Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community,” the cable notes. “However, Gandhi warned, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community,” it said.

The cable, dated August 3, 2009, described Roemer’s luncheon encounter with Gandhi on July 20, 2009.

When contacted in New Delhi, the US Embassy offered no comments on the WikiLeaks contents.

The Congress meanwhile, appeared to be in a dilemma on how to react to WikiLeaks release.

“We will respond to it after verifying the facts... There is no reason to react in an excited manner. The issue should first be looked into and verified,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvti told reporters in response to repeated questions on the issue.

Asked what is there to doubt in the issue, the Congress spokesperson remarked, “I am not questioning anything and I am questioning everything”.

To a question on whether what he says indicates that the party is distancing itself from Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, Singhvi said, “The question does not arise. It is your interpretation.”

“Let us verify the truth,” was the refrain of party general secretary Janardan Diwedi when asked about his reaction to the WikiLeaks release.

The Opposition BJP has reacted sharply to Gandhi’s remarks and said, “In one stroke”, he has given a “big leverage” to the propaganda of all terror groups in Pakistan.

BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said, “It is irresponsible. It is in the public domain and the US government has neither denied nor confirmed it. Therefore, it has sanctity.”

“In one stroke, Rahul Gandhi has sought to give a big leverage to the propaganda of all terror groups operating from Pakistan and certain segments of the Pakistan establishment,” he told reporters here.

Prasad said such remarks impinge upon India’s strategic security and fight against terrorism.

Singhvi, however, dismissed BJP’s criticism over the issue saying, “This is not at all surprising as BJP keeps on levelling such allegations. We will say anything only after verifying the facts”.

The RSS also slammed Rahul Gandhi for his “shocking” remarks against Hindu groups, saying there was a “race” in the senior Congress leadership to project Hindus as terrorists.

“It is shocking that there is a race in the senior Congress leadership to indirectly or directly support jehadi terror and to project Hindus as terrorists in this country, that too in gross violation of established diplomatic norms and procedures,” senior RSS leader Ram Madhav said. – PTI