Image Credit: AP

 New Delhi/Mumbai:  The war of words between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over Rahul Gandhi's Hindu terror remarks intensified on Saturday with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi saying the Congress general secretary's comments were the reason for the US' tilt towards Pakistan.

The Congress, which began its three-day plenary session, hit back at the BJP saying it has offered the sacrifices of its 'two prime ministers' and several party workers in the fight against terror. "Our stand on terror is well known and articulated... We don't want to dignify a leak with a comment."

The terse Congress reaction to Modi's "laughable remarks" came after the Gujarat chief minister said Rahul Gandhi's comments only helped Pakistan.

"Through the WikiLeaks expose, it has been revealed who has given all the information to the US. Now, it is clear why the US is backing Pakistan," Modi said.

The whole world, he said, was convinced that "Pakistan promotes terrorism... They train terrorists and terrorism is the biggest export industry (for that country)," Modi said.

He was reacting to the New Delhi-based US embassy's cables leaked by WikiLeaks in which Gandhi has been quoted as telling American ambassador Timothy Roemer last year that "the growth of radicalised Hindu groups" may be a 'bigger threat' to India than support to some Islamic terror groups from the Muslim community.

Modi said he used to wonder why Americans supported Pakistan all through despite the widely acknowledged fact. "After WikiLeaks' release, it is known who was guiding America and providing information about Pakistan, based on which the US made an opinion about the country. This is the biggest loss for the country."

In a similar reaction in Mumbai, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray questioned Gandhi's credentials for commenting on Hindu terrorism and advised him "not to act too smart". "Who is Rahul Gandhi," he said, adding that he need not point out his 'Italian connections'.

Thackeray also warned the Congress leader against attacking Hindus, saying that failure to do so would mean that "they would retaliate and tackle him by the horns".

A group of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists burnt Gandhi's effigy near the Congress party district office in Maharashtra's Thane on Saturday afternoon, shouting slogans and carrying placards.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said it was "laughable that questions are being raised about a person whose two family members, both former prime ministers, have lost their lives in the cause of the country".

"The Congress has lost two prime ministers and several party workers in the fight against terror," he said, referring to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

"If the BJP can name one of their persons who lost his/her life due to terrorism, we can name one hundred... Those who have not shed a drop of blood to fight terrorism should not be attacking a family which has sacrificed for the cause of the unity and integrity of the country,' Tiwari told reporters on the sidelines of the Congress plenary.

He alleged that the BJP was in the habit of communalising and politicising every issue.

Janshakti Party chief Uma Bharti, a former BJP leader, asked Gandhi not to be guided by party colleague Digvijay Singh and suggested she can be a 'better guru' to him.

"It appears that Rahul's own intellectual bankruptcy had led him to seek advice from his party leader Digvijay Singh and that was the reason he (Rahul) was putting his foot in the mouth," Uma Bharti told reporters on her way to Ayodhya.

"It is high time Rahul realised that he must stop taking notes from his 'guru' Digvijay Singh or else he would continue to face more embarrassment," she said.

"I would like to assure Rahul that I could be a better 'guru' to him than Digvijay Singh."

Uma Bharti added that terrorism had grown in the country during the Congress regime. "Be it the LTTE or certain other terrorist outfits operating in India, they were fuelled by the Congress," she alleged.

Congress meeting begins

Meanwhile, the Congress began its 83rd plenary session in New Delhi on Saturday with party leaders finalising the draft resolutions to be adopted, which are likely to include the party's projection as one with a "pan-India existence" and asking the government to probe the terror links of right-wing groups, party sources said.

Party chief Sonia Gandhi chaired a meeting of the subjects committee to finalise the political, economic and foreign affairs resolutions which will be moved and adopted during the three-day event.

According to sources, some members suggested that the links of right-wing Hindu groups, like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, with terror should be ‘seriously investigated'.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the meeting, which lasted almost four hours.