Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the Centre was making a grave political mistake by going ahead with the Sethusamudram project and denying the existence of Lord Ram in its affidavit to the Supreme Court.

Mr Modi was speaking after being felicitated by senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh on being chosen “the country’s best Chief Minister” by the Vande Mataram Foundation. State BJP leaders NItin Gadkari and Prakash Mehta, Gopinath Munde, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and others were present at the function in Shanmukhananda Hall in central Mumbai.

In the Ramayana, Ravana made the mistake of setting fire to Hanuman’s tail when he went to search for Sita in Lanka, Mr. Modi said. The Centre was now making the same mistake. He was not for a moment saying that the Sethu project must not go ahead. What was the need to destroy something if you want to create something?

He said there were alternative sites for the project which were not being explored.

He said the government wanted to banish Lord Ram’s name from this country. For 60 years, the Congress used Mahatma Gandhi’s name. “Do you agree that Gandhi was born? He used to begin every one of his meetings with Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.” Gandhiji’s memorial had Ram’s name on it.

Mr. Karunanidhi said that Lord Ram was a drunkard. If he was not born, how could he have been a drunkard, asked Mr. Modi. He said this was a battle between “Ram and Rome.”