Act on defusing Ram Setu issue: MK to Rajnikanth

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Chennai, Oct 17: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has urged Superstar Rajnikanth to tell the saints in North India that he had no personal enmity with Lord Ram and convince them to implement the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP), which is at the centre of controversy over the Ram Setu issue. Speaking after distributing the state film awards at a glittering function here last night, Mr Karunanidhi, responding to the actor's anxiety to resolve the issue, said the superstar should help to implement the project, using his contacts with saints in North India.

The superstar, who extensively travel in north and visit the Himalayas, should convey to the ''samiyargal'' (monks/saints) that he did not hate Lord Ram though he was an atheist and as his mentor's (rationalist leader Periyar E V Ramasamy) name itself would prove it.

Seeking to allay the misconceptions over the Ram Setu issue, Mr Karunanidhi said caste, religious sentiments and epics should not be allowed to intervene in the implementation of the SSCP.

''Only prosperity and welfare and future of the people should be allowed to intervene in the project and Mr Rajnikanth should take up the responsibility of telling the truth to the people'', Mr Karunanidhi said.

The superstar, who received the best actor award for his performance in the blockbuster 'Chandramukhi, raising the issue, appealed to Mr Karunanidhi to find an amicable solution for the problem by using his political standing with naional leaders.

Mr Rajnikanth said though it was not the right occasion to raise the issue, as a citizen of the country, he had the responsibility to speak about it. Stating that both positive and negative views about the project were being expressed, he said one sensitive issue (Ram Sethu) had taken the centrestage. ''The seriousness of the issue might not have been felt in Tamil Nadu, but it was widespread in north India.'' The issue was being blown out of proportion and Mr Karunanidhi, who had many friends in north India, should talk to them and find an amicable solution, the actor suggested.

Clarifying his stand, Mr Karunanidhi alleged that some elements in the north were opposed to the project as they did not want Tamil Nadu to prosper. He wanted the people to distinquish between epic (Ramayana) and history and quoted eminent statesman Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), having said that ''Ram was a human prince and no divinity could be attached to him.'' ''We have no personal enmity with Lord Ram and we are not haters of Ram,'' the DMK leader said adding if Ram had done some good works, the Dravidian parties would always welcome it.

Mr Karunanidhi said he would not mind naming the SSCP as Ram Setu Shipping Channel Project, if the Adam's Bridge had the name of Ram Setu several hundred years ago.

He would not oppose the Krishna Water Project, just because the project was named after Lord Krishna, he said. ''They can even call the project as Rama Krishna Project. As long as it brought drinking water to the city, he had no objection,'' Mr karunanidhi said.

The Dravidian leader had found himself at the centre of a controversy after his 'sacrilegious' remarks on Lord Ram in the context of SSCP, which caused a furore among the Hindu community.

UNI

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