On Thursday, VHP leader Champat Rai slammed NDTV after it tried to cast aspersions about the nationwide donation drive for construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. Rai is the General Secretary of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust.
During the programme ‘Reality Check’ on NDTV, ‘journalist’ Sreenivasan Jain decided to sow the seeds of doubt in the public mind about the ongoing donation drive. As part of the agenda, Jain sent a reporter to quiz Champat Rai about the collection that has been made so far. “How much money has been collected? What is the target?”, the reporter asked.
“We have no target in mind. Amassing wealth cannot be the goal of an individual in life. Money is Maya (unreality). It will come and go. And whose money is it? None should develop arrogance believing that it is his money. It is God’s money,” the VHP leader replied. On being pestered further, he said that it was no possible to update the collection every day, as contributions have been pouring from donors each day. Champat Rai added that as per estimates, a total of ₹1500 crores have been collected.
However, the NDTV reporter was not content with the answer. She further asked, “Will the funds collected in 1990s be used for temple construction? Will they be added into these accounts?” It must be pointed out that the issue of donations collected in the past has been raked up by several Opposition parties, including Congress leader Digvijaya Singh to suggest impropriety by the ruling dispensation.
A miffed Champat Rai replied, “This is a bad question… This is not even your question…Whoever has prompted you to ask this, tell him that I have said that he is a person of low intelligence. Whoever has told you to ask this question, tell him that he is a fool…Your Editor has no brain. He is a bogus man with a negative mindset.” The VHP leader further added that over 37000 volunteers are connected to the State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank.
He emphasised that they have all details of the collection made and deposited by the 37000 individuals. “The banking system is such that they wouldn’t even allow the children of the karyakartas to deposit money on their behalf,” Champat Rai reiterated. On being asked about the controversy surrounding stickers being pasted outside homes of donors, he added that no such direction has been given by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust or VHP.
NDTV refers to Ram Janmabhoomi site as ‘disputed’
Ahead of the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ of the Ram Mandir in August last year, habitual offender NDTV continued uploading posts on its social media pages, describing the Ram Mandir site as ‘disputed’. “The groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed Ram temple at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya will take place tomorrow,” read one of the Facebook posts uploaded by NDTV on August 4, 2020. This was not an aberration as another post uploaded the following day on NDTV’s Facebook page once again described the Ram Janmabhoomi as “disputed”.
“A temple to Lord Ram at the disputed site of Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi—awaited by many through decades of turmoil—will get started today with a ground-breaking ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other VIPs,” the post read. A barrage of criticism was directed at the NDTV for continuing to depict Ram Janmabhoomi as “disputed”, even though the Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment last year, had granted Hindus the site for the construction of a Ram Mandir over it.