The Congress in Himachal Pradesh has threatened to launch a nationwide protest against the alleged removal of party president Sonia Gandhi’s foundation stone from the recently-opened Atal Tunnel across Rohtang Pass.
The Atal Tunnel, which has been constructed at a strategically significant point connecting Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti valley and helps reduce travel time to Leh in Ladakh by up to five hours, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 3.
The Congress leaders in Himachal Pradesh have alleged that the inaugural plaque bearing Gandhi’s name was removed from the tunnel ahead of its inauguration.
Modi had inaugurated the tunnel on October 3, while Sonia Gandhi, who had been chairperson of the UPA government when the tunnel project commenced, had laid the foundation stone for the tunnel at the south portal on June 28, 2010, at Dhoondi in Manali.
According to NDTV, state Congress president Kuldeep Singh Rathore wrote to chief minister Jairam Thakur, warning of a protest across the nation if the stone was not installed again.
“If the missing foundation stone is not re-installed, Congress will hold a state-wide agitation against the government,” Rathore wrote in the letter.
“This (removing the stone) is an undemocratic, unconventional and illegal step ever,” he added.
Two party leaders – Gialchhen Thakur and Hari Chand Sharma – have filed a police case in Keylong and Manali seeking an investigation into how the foundation stone went missing.
The Congress also gave a deadline of 15 days to reinstall the plaque which was removed.
While inaugurating the tunnel earlier this month, Modi took several digs at the Congress without naming the party, saying defence interests had been compromised under its rule.