BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately declare Rama Setu as National Heritage Monument. In his letter to Modi, Swamy pointed out that within a week, Election Commission is going to announce the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha polls, this decision should be announced immediately. For the past two years, Swamy has been reiterating his demand to the Prime Minister, saying that the file is just pending in his office waiting for his approval.
When the BJP Government came back to power in 2014, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari totally supported Swamy’s case and agreed to declare Rama Setu as National Heritage Monument and wound up the entire project, mooted by DMK in 1999
“As we are approaching the date of announcement of the General Election to the Lok Sabha and onset of the Model Code, I wish to draw your attention to the two pending decisions for the Government which have great attractive value for the people of India,” said Swamy. The second demand was the formation of Administrative Development Council in Coorg, which is the long-standing demand of the Kodava community.
“The first is the long pending reply of the Government to my Writ Petition in the Supreme Court in which Notice to Government had been issued, on my Prayer seeking to declare Rama Setu as a national Heritage Monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.
“This Prayer meets the criteria laid down in the said Act in Section 2 and that your ministerial colleague Dr. Mahesh Sharma (Minister for Culture) confirmed this to me, stating that the decision is for the Cabinet to make. Therefore I urge you that there should be no further delay in making the announcement that Government has decided to give recognition to the Rama Setu as a National Heritage Monument,” said Swamy expressing his displeasure on the delay from the Prime Minister’s part.
No Minister comes out smelling of roses
The Rama Setu case involves a lot of grey area when it was started a shipping channel project (Sagar Mala) during the first NDA government during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s tenure. That time the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was an ally of the BJP-led Government and DMK was planning a lot of business interests in the new shipping channel by breaking the ecologically sensitive and religiously important Rama Setu. It was the then Shipping Minister Arun Jaitley who signed off on this controversial project. During the UPA regime, Shipping Minister and DMK leader T R Baalu went ahead with Setu Samudram Project and inaugurated the Rs.8000 crores project to break the Rama Setu to create a shipping channel.
This was stopped by the Supreme Court due to the intervention petition of Subramanian Swamy. During the UPA period, the opposition BJP also opposed the breaking of Rama Setu, when the entire country rose in protest. Shipping Minister T R Baalu exposed the role of BJP’s Shipping Minister’s complicity during NDA regime. He produced documents in Parliament showing the signatures in files approved by NDA’s Shipping Ministers starting from Arun Jaitley, Ved Prakash Goyal, Tirunavakkarasu and Shatrughan Sinha. The BJP MPs were stunned to see this expose by the Shipping Minister Baalu in the Parliament. At the end, Subramanian Swamy won the case by collapsing the ulterior motive to break Rama Setu.
The above-mentioned incidents expose the complicity of business interests by shippers and connivance of politicians, cutting across party lines when money was thrown by the shipping barons from South India.
When the BJP Government came back to power in 2014, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari totally supported Swamy’s case and agreed to declare Rama Setu as National Heritage Monument and wound up the entire project, mooted by DMK in 1999. Ministry of Culture cleared the files for the declaration and it is now waiting for the Prime Minister’s clearance for the declaration through a Cabinet decision. But the million dollar question is why for the past two years Narendra Modi sat on this file to declare Rama Setu of Lord Rama as National Heritage Monument?