'Donate To Correct Account': Congress On Why It Started Temple Fund Drive

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is running an awareness campaign telling people that contributions for the Ram temple in Ayodhya should go only into the correct accounts

Proposed look of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Jaipur/Bhopal:

A group of students at Rajasthan University are seen knocking on doors. "Ek rupaye Ram ke naam (Re 1 in the name of Lord Ram)," they say. It's not a temple fund collection drive by a group affiliated to the BJP, but one being run by the Congress's student wing National Students Union of India (NSUI) in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The NSUI's temple fund collection drive in Rajasthan comes as an answer to a similar exercise by the BJP. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is running an awareness campaign telling people that contributions for the Ram temple in Ayodhya should go only into the correct accounts.

However, the Congress's move is being seen as stepping into the BJP's path in heartland states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

"We are not collecting funds, but we are against the fake narrative of the BJP that uses the name of Lord Ram. Do you know how the BJP is going around putting pressure on people into donating for the Ram temple? That's what we are against. We are saying even one rupee collected in the name of Lord Ram is enough, if it is done with devotion," Rajasthan NSUI chief Abhishek Chaudhary said.

The Congress's exercise in Madhya Pradesh appears to be slightly different than in Rajasthan. The opposition party is warning those who want to donate to the temple against financial fraud.

The party has been giving the account numbers of the Ram temple trust and asking people not to donate to any other organisation.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has started a fundraiser in Bhopal for the Ram temple. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan gave a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to VHP national organising secretary Vinayak Rao Deshpande. The VHP has said it will contact 65 crore people across the country for temple funds.

"We don't believe in drama like the BJP. We have given bank account numbers of the Ram mandir trust to people. We are appealing to people to donate only into the trust's account. We will distribute pamphlets in Bhopal and across Madhya Pradesh," South Bhopal Congress MLA PC Sharma said.

The Congress in Bhopal has been distributing pamphlets with a 1989 photograph of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi laying the foundation stone of the temple in Ayodhya.

"Lord Ram belongs to everyone, not the BJP alone. But does the Congress want to be part of the movement or is it merely playing politics is up to people to see for themselves," Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Poonia said.