By Walter Jayawardhana

Furious over the Sethu Samudram project being put on hold by the New Delhi government over the strong Hindu religious sentiments mainly raised by the opposition Bharathiya Janatha Party Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi strongly came down on what he called communal forces and even the neighboring Sri Lanka which has raised environment concerns for stalling the project.

“Who is this Raman (as Lord Ram is referred to in Tamil)? In which engineering college did he study and become a civil engineer? When did he build this so-called bridge? Is there any evidence for this?” an apparently infuriated Karunanidhi asked at a function in Erode in Saturday night.

The leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazagam (DMK) rejects any belief in the myriad of Hindu gods as of Aryan and non Tamil origin and ridicules them in his party ideology.

Indicating the change of mind attitude in new Delhi is driving the UPA government into a new crisis , Karunanidhi said ,“The withdrawal of the affidavits does not mean that the project is being withdrawn.” The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister told reporters at Yercaud near Salem. “If it amounts to the project itself being shelved, then the DMK, which adheres to scientific, rational and progressive ideals, will not accept it.”

The affidavits Karunanidhi was referring to are the ones produced in courts by the Arcaeological Survey of India which the Hindus said hurt their religious sentiments. They expressed controversial ideas on the existence of Lord Ram , the main character in the Hindu epic Ramayana who is called Raman in Tamil. Karunanidhi came down hard on the Ramayana story about Rama Sethu or the Adams Bridge between India and Sri Lanka as “myth”.

Speaking to reporters about the new differences arisen after the New Delhi governments change of mind following vociferous demonstrations that denounced Sonia Gandhi as a Christian in which her effigies were burnt Karunanidhi said , : “The conflict is between us and communal elements. It is between us and dominant forces that are using superstitions of the people to stall the project and achieve their ends. It is not a conflict between us and the Union Government. Our stand is that the Centre should not succumb to these communal elements.”

Demonstrating fury and using strong words an emotive Karunanidhi said in Erode, ““The latest attempt to stall the Sethusamudram project is by a group of jackals, conspirators and dangerous elements. Their objective is to subvert a major project that would usher in development in the southern parts of our state.”

In a resolution which he read out at the function, Karunanidhi warned the Government against giving up the project in the name of Ram Sethu. The Ramayana, he said, was only “a piece of fiction that allegorically represented the conflict between Aryans and Dravidians”. (Tamil is a Dravidian language) .

The affidavits produced in the courts calling the Ramayanaya a myth has in fact has put the political future of the Minister of Cultural Affairs of the New Delhi government Ambika Soni in jeopardy. Some cabinet members of the Man Mohan government has demanded him to resign over the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court by the department under him that said that there was no proof that the event described in the Ramayana ever took place or the characters in the epic existed.
The protests sprang up all over India mostly targeting the Italian born Sonia Gandhi , a strong supporter of the project. "How would a Christian know about the Hindu religion?" cried protesters led by former Test player Navjyot Singh Siddhu, a Hindu nationalist MP. He added, "Does (god) Ram need a court affidavit to be recognized?"

Vishva Hindu Parishad and its South Indian counterpart , Hindu Munnani are protesting the project as “the deliberate design to destroy the most ancient relic of Hindu history.”
L.K.Advani, a senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party has called the government’s position ‘ an insult to millions of Hindus all over the world,”

LankaWeb Ref
(Lord Rama, the most famous incarnation of God, is one of the most commonly adored gods of Hindus and is known as an ideal man and hero of the epic Ramayana.He is always holding a bow and arrow indicating his readiness to destroy evils. He is also called "Shri Rama". More commonly he is pictured in a family style, (Ram Parivar) with his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman who is sitting near Lord Rama's feet. Indeed, He was the eternal Lord Sri Vishnu, and had advented Himself in the world of men on behalf of the Devas, who desired the slaying of Ravana." )

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