Special Correspondent

Says he is not concerned about any particular alignment

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday said he was not concerned about any one particular alignment for the Sethusamudram channel so long as the Sethusamudram project could be implemented.

“From the beginning, we have not said that the navigable route [connecting the Gulf of Mannar with the Palk Bay] should be shaped by destroying the Ramar bridge. Nor do we say so now. All we say is that the project should be completed speedily,” he told journalists.

The Union government should not be misled by the deceit of a few people who were against the project, he said when asked if the withdrawal of the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court could be seen as an act of betrayal.

Advani’s demand

On Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani’s demand that he withdraw his remarks on Lord Ram, he said Mr. Advani should read the Valmiki Ramayana. He was ready for a debate with Mr. Advani on the same stage.

The Chief Minister said the Sethusamudram project was meant for the development of Tamil Nadu, especially the backward southern districts. Once completed, the shipping distances would be cut short, bringing down the travel costs. Trade and commerce would flourish in the region as it did in the past.

The people of the State had been dreaming about completion of the project for more than a century. Intellectuals and economists too were waiting for it to take shape. The DMK government did not want the intention of the opponents to succeed, he said.

“Not hurt anyone”

On the contention that he should not speak about a religious figure as he held public office, Mr. Karunanidhi said it was not said anywhere in the Constitution that he should not speak about Lord Ram. “I have not hurt anyone.”

Mr. Karunanidhi said there was nothing wrong in conveying the truth. Repeating what was written about someone could not be construed as hurting anyone. The DMK would not and had not hurt the sentiments of Hindus or others.

Asked if he would retract his comments on Lord Ram, he said the Ramayana was a story. “I have written so many novels. There have been many characters. Is it possible to say that all of them existed,” he asked.

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