As if he wasn’t popular enough, home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram—the darling of the Hindutva crowd for his seemingly tough, no-nonsense, hands-on approach to Islamist and Maoist terror—has bitten the hand the claps by alerting the nation to the “new phenomenon of saffron terrorism“.
“There is no let-up in the attempts to radicalise young men and women in India. Besides, there is the recently uncovered phenomenon of saffron terrorism that has been implicated in many bomb blasts of the past. My advice to you is that we must remain ever vigilant and continue to build, at the Central and State levels, our capacity in counter-terrorism,” he told top police and security officers.
Chidambaram’s comment comes in the wake of the discovery of a common footprint behind recent bomb blasts—from the Mecca masjid in Hyderabad to the Ajmer dargah in Rajasthan, and a bunch of incidents in Malegaon, Goa, Thane, Nanded, and Kanpur.
The overall toll isn’t high, but the intent, to create disharmony and mutual distrust, is.
The involvement of high functionaries of the saffron brotherhood, past and present, has sent quivers through the RSS and its political face, the BJP. But, above all, the revelation that the Hindu lunatic fringe can do what they accuse the Islamic lunatic fringe of doing has been a bit of a shocker.
Questions: Is Chidambaram barking up the wrong tree by sounding an alarm on “saffron terrorism” (which is gramatically a step-up from George W. Bush‘s “war on terror”) ? And will his seemingly tough, no-nonsense, hands-on approach continue to attract the BJP’s encomiums?
Or is smart Mr Chidambaram just doing a bit of course-correction following the increasing criticism of his abrasive approach from his own cabinet and party colleagues?