Rahul Gandhi says radical Hindus a threat - cables

NEW DELHI Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:55pm IST

Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker and son of India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, addresses a news conference in Agartala October 6, 2009. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey/Files

Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker and son of India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, addresses a news conference in Agartala October 6, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jayanta Dey/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Rahul Gandhi, seen as an India prime minister in waiting, told the U.S. ambassador radical Hindu groups could pose a bigger threat to the country than the Islamists who attacked Mumbai in 2008, a leaked cable showed.

The comments made to Timothy Roemer last year were immediately criticised by the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), adding to political sparring that has deadlocked parliament and pushed policymaking into limbo.

Gandhi's comments, made in response to a question from Roemers on the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, referred to religious tension created by more extreme BJP leaders, according to the cable released by WikiLeaks and published on Friday by Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the LeT among Indian Muslims, the ambassador wrote, according to the cable.

"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," Roemer wrote.

India has a history of communal tensions between majority Hindus and minority Muslims, and critics say several political parties play on insecurities amongst Muslims to win votes. In 2002, about 2,500 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in riots in western Gujarat state, human rights groups estimated.

Radical Hindu groups, some with ties to the BJP or the BJP's more extreme sister organisations, have been linked to bomb attacks against Muslim targets.

The controversy adds to the woes of the ruling Congress party, which is already fighting to contain the damage from a series of setbacks including corruption scandals, high food prices and a poor showing in a state poll.

The BJP has threatened to block the February budget session of parliament if the government does not set up a parliamentary committee to investigate charges the country lost $39 billion in revenue due to corruption in the granting of telecoms licences.

Gandhi, son of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, has sparked the BJP's ire before. He once compared the opposition party's parent organisation to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.

On Friday, the BJP said Gandhi's comments were adding grist to propaganda from Islamist militants and Pakistan.

"In a way he is seeking to justify the entire propaganda. That will impinge on our security and strategic concerns and the fight against terror. The BJP strongly condemns this statement which is irresponsible," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

"After this, the people will know that you, Rahul Gandhi, have a long way to go to understand this nation."

Congress said it would not immediately react to the report.

"There is no reason to react in this excited manner. the matter has to be looked into, it has to be investigated and verified. We will let you know in the context of that," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters. LeT militants from Pakistan held Mumbai under siege for three days in Nov 2008, killing at least 166 people. India halted peace talks with nuclear-armed rival Pakistan following the attacks.

Several conspiracy theories have floated that Hindu groups were involved in the Mumbai attacks, including by Congress leaders, especially after a police officer investigating Hindu radical groups was killed.

(Editing by Paul de Bendern and Robert Birsel; Editing by Alex Richardson)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (9)
vrp44 wrote:
What a bloody fool he is, it is difficult to think of him as our future———-! Lalu would be a better choice. He can be the third martyr from his family to save India.

Dec 17, 2010 3:36pm IST  --  Report as abuse
PBALA46 wrote:
By his statement, Gandhiji, besides displaying his ignorance of the country and its people, their culture and abiding values, demonstrates where his sympathies lie. Radical Hindus and Pacifist Islam seem terminologies that will gain currency in politics. He must know that world today encounters a greater threat not from the so called radical Hindus or Indians. When it comes to be analyzed impartially, he has to agree Pakistan and Pakistanis pose a greater threat not only India, which he may discount in private discussion with dignitaries, to the world at large. Who else in the world is arming the rogue nations with nuclear power technology? Radical Indians? Come on Gandhiji.
Sure, a battery of experts and luminaries will now be deployed to rescue the leader in waiting by putting constructions on his otherwise stupid statement to curry favor of the US as a shining secularists. He needs such a certificate to flaunt before the gullible Indians or to mesmerize them into his fold or to hold minorities under him to show his distinctive brand image within the hold all party. He is the messiah of Secularism!!

Dec 17, 2010 5:13pm IST  --  Report as abuse
TUTI wrote:
First Rahul is correct. As according to Newton law- to every action there is equal and opposit reaction so will be case of Indian Muslims. If in the name of Hindu God a Mosque was destroyed or innocent Muslims were killed in different parts of India like in Gujrat, in Mumbai etc then there will be some reaction but who is to blame to create such a situation? Did Pakistan motivate radical Hindu groups to act like this? Radical Hindu groups justify creation of Pakistan as they destroy house of God in the name of God. I think it proofs that God of Minority is not equal to God of Majority. This was the fear why Pakistan was created. Sad but true. Point is how we can create peace? Can we blame foreigners for all our own mistakes? I think wrong politics and worng use of relegion never bring good results. We all have to learn “No culture can survive if we attempt to be exclusive” Gandhi. This is my message to all.

Dec 17, 2010 5:39pm IST  --  Report as abuse
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