MADURAI: DMK MP and former union minister TR Baalu courted controversy by saying he on many occasions compromised religious beliefs to complete development projects.
Speaking at a public meeting in support of the Sethusamudram project in Madurai, the DMK leader spoke about his efforts for the project.
TR Baalu said, "In my constituency, Sarasawathi Temple, Lakshmi temple and Parvathi temple on Grand Southern Truck Road (GST) were demolished. I only demolished all these three temples. I know I will not get votes but I also know how to get votes. My supporters even warned me that if temples were demolished, I will not get votes. But I told them there is no other way."
"I told the need a temple. I constructed better temples with better facilities. Like this, in many places, I have convinced religious beliefs and completed projects," added the DMK MP. The DMK MP criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre for halting the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project project.
He said the Centre's decision to stop the project is like abruptly halting a train midway.
Baalu alleged that the central government is halting the project without applying scientific or rational thinking and instead following religious lines.
He claimed the project would have now brought a profit of Rs 750 crore per annum.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai shared the video of TR Baalu's speech.
Taking to Twitter, Annamalai said, "DMK men take pride in demolishing 100-year-old Hindu temples. The very reason we want the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE) dissolved and want the temple freed from the clutches of government."
Earlier this month, the Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution urging the Centre to implement the Sethusamudram Project without further delay.
The resolution moved by Chief Minister MK Stalin, requested the Union Government not to delay the project as it is important for Tamil Nadu and the country's economic growth.
A grand waterway project straddling India and Sri Lanka, the Sethusamudram project proposes to connect the Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar.
The project is seen as key to bringing economic prosperity to the state and the country.
Commissioned in 2005, the project came to halt in light of protests by rightwing groups claiming that the project may harm the 'Ram Setu' bridge, which is believed to have been built by Lord Ram to reach Sri Lanka.
The Sethasasamudram project included a proposal to minimize a ship's travel by almost 650 km, by making a canal in the Palk Strait.
Environmentalists and activists, too, protested against the project claiming it might pose a potential threat to the environment in Rameswaram, the southernmost tip of the country.
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