Chennai, Sep17: Differing from its alliance partner-AIADMK, Marumalarchi DMK (MDMK) General Secretary Vaiko today said he was against exploiting religious sentiments to stall the implementation of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project.
Asked about the protests being organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Hindu organisations against the demolition of 'Ramsethu' (Adam's bridge) while implementing the project, he said communal forces should not be allowed to rake up religious sentiments to stall the project.
After garlanding Periyar statue here on the occasion of the rationalist leader's 129th birth anniversary, he told mediapersons that he was not against any religion, but always respected the sentiments of all religions.
The MDMK leader, a strong votary of the project, said raking up religious sentiments against the project could not be accepted. By making this observation, Mr Vaiko, who normally toed the line of AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa, clearly distanced himself from the stand taken by the AIADMK leader, who had denounced the Centre for its move to demolish Ramsethu and demanded that the project be implemented on an alternate route without disturbing Ramsethu.
Ms Jayalalithaa had also castigated the Centre for filing an affidavit before the Supreme Court, stating that Lord Ram was an imaginary character and Ramsethu was not man-made.
Mr Vaiko said the project was proposed by late leader C N Annadurai, but DMK leader and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi did not take any steps for the implementation. Even when an opportunity came, he remained silent. On the other hand, he made all efforts for the implementation of the project, he claimed.
Mr Vaiko flayed the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre and DMK Government in Tamil Nadu for not taking steps to dispatch the relief materials collected by Tamil Nationalist Movement leader P Nedumaran to the suffering Tamils in Sri Lanka. Supporting Mr Nedumaran, who had launched an indefinite fast on the issue and given it up after four days following an assurance from the Chief Minister, he said the two Governments should take immediate steps to ensure that the Red Cross distibuted the relief materials to the Tamils in the war-ravaged areas of the island.
Charging the Manmohan Singh Government with failing to protect the Sri Lankan Tamils, Mr Vaiko said the Centre had initially allowed the Red Cross to carry the relief materials, but subsequently withdrew permission. He wanted to know who was behind the decision.
He welcomed the Tamil Nadu Government's decision to provide exclusive reservation for Muslim and Christian minorities in the State. The DMK Government should take steps to implement reservation and ensure that it was not struck down by a court of law, he said.