Shimla: With congress president Sonia Gandhi ready to lay the foundation stone for Rohtang Tunnel project on Monday, BJP has termed it as a mean attempt to undermine the legacy of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who not only had announced the project but had even laid its foundation stone in 2002.
â€œPattraon pey naâ€™am likney say dilo par naâ€™am nahin likhey jatey,â€ (By righting names on stones one cannot win hearts) is how JP Nadda, BJP national general secretary reacted to the proposed foundation stone laying by UPA chairperson.
â€œEveryone knows the love former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has for Himachal Pradesh. As prime minister, he had not only announced the project on 3 June 2000, but also had laid the foundation stone on 23rd May 2002; the ceremony for which was even attended by then defense minister George Fernandes,â€ said Nadda.
After relinquishing power, and no headway made on the tunnel project, the former prime minister had even expressed his anguish in 2005 asking the UPA government to expedite the project. The tunnel project, which is of national importance, has been deliberately delayed to try and erase the memory of Vajpayee,â€ he added.
On the other hand congress party has left no stone unturned to demonstrate the tunnel as its project by inviting Sonia Gandhi for the foundation stone laying ceremony.
Union steel minister Virbhadra Singh, who represents the area in parliament, has personally overseen the preparations for the ceremony.
Responding to BJPâ€™s claim, senior congressman GS Bali said, â€œwe have deep regard for Vajpayeeji, but work on the tunnel is only starting now after funds for it stand allocated.â€
He said that the earlier foundation stone laid by the then prime minister was for constructing an access road to the tunnel site.
Itâ€™s not fair to drag congress president Sonia Gandhi in such controversy, said Bali adding, â€œafter all the defense authorities are only laying the foundation stone for a prestigious project after ensuring that it is being done for the first time.â€
To counter the forward areas thrust given by China along the India-China border and lay an all weather route to Leh, the Rs 1700 crore Rohtang Tunnel project is part of defense ministryâ€™s vital security projects for improving accessibility to border areas.
Importance of an alternate link to Leh was felt during the Kargil intrusion, when an attempt was made to cut of road link to Ladhak that passes through Kargil
The horse shoe designed 9 Km tunnel will bore under the 13050 feet high Rohtang Pass that remains snowbound for over 6 months and would provide year around access to forward areas of Lahaul valley.