In a shining example of hypocrisy so bright, it blinds you even with your eyes closed, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien has set a new bar for hypocrisy. Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien yesterday displayed anger and outrage at Government of India’s ‘Adopt a Heritage‘ initiative which aims to rope in private players for development of basic and advanced tourist amenities and look after operation and management of these amenities. Derek, while voicing his anger referred to the same initiative as monuments being ‘sold’.
Wah! So here is acche din. Red Fort being ‘sold ‘? Now other national treasures ready to be auctioned to highest bidder. As Chairman Parliament Cmtee of Transport Tourism & Culture, can say matter was still being “discussed”. Pledge to stop this
— Derek O’Brien (@derekobrienmp) April 28, 2018
Chiming in his concerns was also TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, who called it a sad and dark day in our history.
Why can’t the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila ? Red Fort is a symbol of our nation. It is where India’s flag is hoisted on Independence Day. Why should it be leased out ? Sad and dark day in our history
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 28, 2018
However, it has come to light that last month, the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, which is headed by Derek O’Brien himself, not only welcomed the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ initiative but also recommended that major corporates may be compelled to adopt the heritage sites under CSR (corporate social responsibility). [pdf]
In October last year, 7 companies were shortlisted for the Adopt a Heritage initiative, where they would be called ‘Monument Mitra’. SBI Foundation will be looking after the historic Jantar Mantar in Delhi, Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd. will look over maintenance of Leh Palace, UNESCO World Heritage Site Hampi, Qutub Minar and Ajanta Caves while Mattancherry Palace Museum, and Safdarjung Tomb will be looked after by Travel Corporation of India Ltd. Adventure Tour Operator Association of India will take over the Gangotri Temple area and trail to Gaumukh and Mt. Stok Kangri, while TK International Limited will adopt the Sun Temple, Raja Rani Temple and Ratnagiri Monuments. Agrasen Ki Baoli will be taken over by Special Holidays Travel Pvt. Ltd. in collaboration with Rotary Club of Delhi, while the NBCC was shortlisted for the adoption of Purana Qila.
Earlier in 2016, 14 PSUs including the Steel Authority of India (SAI), Indian Oil, UCO Bank, ONGC, had adopted over 18 monuments, including the monuments at Lodi Gardens, Khajuraho Temples, and the Ahom Monuments in Assam.
Thus, one wonders what compelled O’Brien to make this drastic U-Turn and whether Indian politics has been reduced to opposing policies for the sake of petty politics alone, instead of merit.