Months after former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath welcomed the construction of Ram temple, and senior party leader Digvijaya Singh said even former PM Rajiv Gandhi wanted the temple to be built in Ayodhya, a state Congress office-bearer is now collecting donations for the temple’s construction.
MP Congress secretary Vivek Khandelwal said he has collected Rs 70,000 over the last three days. He said the drive will continue until the end of January, when he plans to travel to Ayodhya and donate the collected amount to Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerath Kshetra Trust for the temple’s construction.
Khandelwal maintained that while he has begun the donation drive in his personal capacity, the move has the party’s consent. “The initiative is in sync with the party’s stand, as our (state unit) president Kamal Nath has himself held a puja and welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision (in favour of the temple trust).”
Asked whether the Cngress plans to emulate the fund collection drive across the state, and whether it is the official party line, Nath replied, “No it’s not true.”
State Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said, “This is not a drive undertaken by the party or (being done) officially. It is being done by Khandelwal in his personal capacity as a Ram bhakt.”
Taking a dig at the BJP, Gupta said, “I think every transparent individual has a right to collect donations and give it to the trust much, like Khandelwal, who has declared that he collected Rs 70,000 so far. The BJP should also declare how much money it has collected and what gets donated.”
Kamal Nath had, in August last year, said that the Ram temple is being constructed with the consent of every Indian, and that people across country are waiting for it since long.
Khandelwal’s initiative comes after a nationwide collection drive called by the Vishva Hindu Parishad along with other Sangh organisations – as part of this collection drive, a ‘jan jagran rally’ (awareness drive) is being held between December 25, 2020 and January 14 this year, with a succeeding round proposed from January 15 to February 14. Through these drives, workers of these pro-Hindutva outfits plan to reach out to nearly 55 crore people in 4 lakh villages across the country.
Asked whether his is an attempt to counter the VHP initiative, Khandelwal said, “I am a believer, and Ram is my God as much as anybody else. The donation drive is aimed at ensuring all those who want to be connected by giving the sayog nidhi (donation).”