VHP has decided to seek contributions for the proposed Ram Mandir and has also decided to explore ways to enlist the involvement of Ram bhakts in its construction, potentially setting the stage for yet another mass mobilisation for the Ayodhya temple.
“Ram bhakts (devotees) from across the country will be approached for contribution to the construction of the Ram temple. The Ayodhya movement was associated with the faith and sentiments of scores of Hindus and they will have to do their bit, including ‘kar seva’, whenever the project begins,” said Vinod Bansal, national spokesperson of VHP, the Sangh affiliate which spearheaded the campaign for the construction of the temple.
“A formal plan will be out soon,” Bansal told TOI.
Besides, VHP has decided to suggest that the trust that is to be formed within three months should facilitate the symbolic participation of “bhakts” in the construction of what has been imagined as a “grand Ram temple”. Devotees from all 718 districts of the country will be invited in delegations to stay for at least a week and help in construction work, said the VHP functionary, an indication that another round of “kar seva” could be in the works.
“Kar seva”, or voluntary work, formed an important part of the VHP-led “Mandir” movement with lakhs reaching Ayodhya in 1990, and again in 1992, the second round resulting in the demolition of Babri Masjid.
VHP functionaries in Delhi confirmed the crowd-funding plan. “There is no ambiguity about the plan that funds will be pooled in directly from Hindu devotees of Lord Ram spread across the globe. The process to seek contributions will start soon for which teams will be constituted to ensure that it is done smoothly,” VHP working president Alok Kumar told TOI.
He said VHP has pledged only to use contributions from people for temple construction.
VHP’s statements come amid reinforced indications that it will have a significant representation in the temple trust. The Supreme Court had, in its verdict on Saturday, denied any role for VHP-promoted Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas in temple construction. However, sources said the government, which will have the final say in the matter, appears inclined to include in the trust Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, who headed the Nyas, as well as some of the key Hindu seers aligned with VHP.
The decision to pool funds is in sync with what Mahatma Gandhi had suggested when he offered his support for the reconstruction of the Somnath temple. Gandhi gave his consent to the move to revive the temple, which had been attacked and plundered repeatedly by invaders, but told the prime movers — Sardar Patel and K M Munshi —that they should not take money from the government.
“For a temple dedicated to Lord Ram, funds must come from the public. Taxpayer money should not have any role in the project. We shall start the fund collection once the trust takes over,” Kumar said. “Some people may contribute shilas (sandstone), while others may donate money. We leave everything to people,” he added. VHP sources in Ayodhya said they expect the construction to begin around Makar Sankranti in January or Ram Navami in April next year. “The ball is in the court of the government which has to take a call on the issue,” said a senior VHP functionary.
VHP functionaries said enlisting popular support for the construction of the temple will be a respectful gesture to the devotees, who have waited “generations” to see it happen. “We shall urge the trust to allow the visit of delegations from each district of the country to hand out a brick for the construction,” Kumar said.
He said over 60% of the temple has already been carved but construction will start after complying with the norms. “We have to abide by the norm as the temple will be dedicated to ‘Maryada Purushottam’.”
Source : TOI