The Sangh Parivar may have launched a campaign to whip up Hindu sentiments against the Rs 2,400 crore Sehusamudram Ship Canal Project on the ground that the Ram Sethu or the Ramar bridge - believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s vanarasena (army of monkeys) - will be damaged.
But it does not want the BJP to hijack the issue. So it seems if one goes by the latest editorial in RSS mouthpiece, Panchajanya. It says the campaign for protection of what is officially referred to as Adam’s Bridge, located in the Palk Straits close to Rameshwaram, "should not be allowed to become politicized as it happened in the case of the Ram temple movement."
The warning has come even as VHP international president Ashok Singhal has said, "Like we have vowed to construct a temple at the Rama Janma Bhoomi we vow to protect the Ram Sethu."
The Sethusamudram project is an ambitious plan to create a 167-km long navigation channel by dredging the shallow waters of the Palk Strait and Palk Bay, so that ships travelling from India’s western coast to the east can avoid circum-navigating Sri Lanka.
Panchanjanya asked "do those people who benefited from the sacrifice made by hundreds of kar sevaks and enjoyed power remember them today? We should not let power seekers take advantage even as we are determined by the grace of Lord Hanuman to prevent the destruction of Ram Sethu."
Singhal and other VHP leaders have often been critical of former prime minister AB Vajpayee and LK Advani for having done little to help build the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya when they were in power.
Significantly, it was Singhal who had announced that he would ask the MPs and MLAs to raise the issue in the Parliament and legislatures. BJP leaders did so in both the Houses last week.
The BJP leaders have not hesistated to call the Ram Sethu as another ‘Ram’ issue even as the Sangh Parivar has suddenly added speed to its campaign.
The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project was officially launched in June 2005 off the Vedaranyam coast near Nagapattinam, it is now that BJP leaders have been vocal on the matter.
A few months ago, former HRD Minister MM Joshi even wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, pointing to a NASA study that man-made structures exist underneath the sea where Hindus believe a stone bridge was built by vanarsenas.
Ironically, it was the Vajpayee government, of which the DMK was a partner, which allowed the Sethusamudram project to go ahead as part of the Rs 100,000 crore ‘programme to develop port infrastructure and inland shipping around the peninsula.