Sonia `inaugurates` Rohtang tunnel, BJP cries foul

BJP pointed out that the foundation stone for Rohtang tunnel was laid by AB Vajpayee in 2002.

Updated: Jun 29, 2010, 00:21 AM IST

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday aired surprise and shock at the Congress grabbing the entire credit for the Rohtang tunnel and pointed out that the foundation stone for the strategic project was laid by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee way back in 2002.

"We are surprised and shocked. This is how the Congress operates," BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told IANS.

He pointed out that the Rohtang tunnel project was announced by Vajpayee in 2000 and the work on it, to be built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), was later inaugurated by him on May 23, 2002.

"It`s re-inaugurating the project. For the Congress history and geography starts and finishes at the doorstep of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty," said Javadekar, expressing surprise that there was not a mention of Vajpayee in Congress president Sonia Gandhi`s speech at the inauguration ceremony.

Javadekar said the BJP will raise the issue in the monsoon session of parliament, likely late July.

Gandhi Monday pressed a remote control to launch the building of a strategic 8.8 km long tunnel that will enable year-round connectivity between Manali and the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

At a public rally later, Gandhi called it a "historic moment" for the nation and an "emotional moment for me because a dream of Rajiv Gandhi was being actualised".

Rajiv Gandhi had got a feasibility study of the tunnel done in 1987.

The construction process will be completed in 63 months. A multi-faith prayer meeting was organised before Gandhi inaugurated the excavation work of the prestigious project, expected to cost nearly Rs.1,500 crore ($325 million).

Defence Minister AK Antony and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal were also present.