Of late, in the Malayali cyber parlance, CPI(M) Lok Sabha Member MB Rajesh has become a laughing stock. Every time he comes out with a post on his Facebook page, it’s a celebration time for netizens. He is assailed by thousands of snide remarks. Ever since he organized a series of ‘Beef Fests’ across Kerala (there is no beef ban in his home state) against beef ban in Maharashtra, he gained a new nomenclature — the name of the animal he sought to slaughter – pothu (buffalo).
Recently, he wrote a Facebook post criticizing the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme launched by the Modi government. In the post, he stated the Modi government has been “selling” national assets to corporates. Netizens were quick to respond. They reminded Rajesh how his government in Kerala immediately after coming to power handed over custodial right of Kovalam Halycon Palace, a heritage building, and adjoining 4.13 hectares of land to RP Group of companies. The decision was taken at the first cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. It is an open secret that family members of Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI(M) state secretary are employed in RP Group.
But, Marxists are like that: they are always negative. The staunchest opposition to the scheme came from The Indian History Congress (IHC), a body of leftist historians and Rahul Gandhi’s Congress. The Marxist historians demanded suspension of the deal with Dalmia Bharat till “the whole arrangement is impartially reviewed by the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology or any other recognised body of experts.” According to its press release, it apprehends that “to attract tourist traffic it may propagate false or unproven interpretations of particular structures in the complex.”
But these worthies never had a problem when the UPA government was handed over to a foreign agency, Aga Khan Foundation for restoration and maintenance. “Where was the national outrage then,” asks KJ Alphons, the Tourism Minister.
Commenting on the controversy, Alphons further told Times of India, in an interview, “My problem is why Congress, when the entire conservation and restoration work was handed to them (Aga Khan Foundation), had no problem that a foreign agency was drafted to work on Indian heritage. Here, all we want is to provide drinking water, toilets, and Wi-Fi. Former PM Manmohan Singh had said this is a good thing and should be encouraged if we can implement it successfully. The difference is that in this scheme, the foundation will have to spend all the money. In the earlier arrangement, the government also spent a lot of money.”
Another apprehension of the Marxist historians is that Dalmia Bharat doesn’t have the requisite expertise in monument restoration. That is not a plausible argument. If Reliance, a petrochemical giant, can emerge as a major telecom player, if Yoga Guru Ramdev’s Patanjali can become one of the leading FMCG companies, a cement company, Dalmia group, can also become experts in heritage restoration.