NEW DELHI: The Congress on Monday alleged corruption in purchase of land in Ayodhya by the Ram temple trust and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the charge.
The party also alleged that it was a "big scam" committed using funds collected from devotees and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should answer whether those behind it had his protection.
Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged at a press conference that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust had purchased "12,080 square metres of land" at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh at an inflated price of Rs 18.5 crore.
The land was purchased by the temple's trust at Rs 18.5 crore on March 18, and according to land deeds, only a few minutes earlier on the same day Kusum Phatak had sold it for Rs 2 crore to Ravi Tiwari and Sultan Ansari from whom the trust bought the land, he claimed.
Citing the land deeds, Surejwala claimed that trust members Anil Mishra, who is a BJP leader, and Hrishikesh Upadhyay, a former mayor of Ayodhya, are signatories to the Rs 18.5 crore land deal.
The land was in the name of Pathak and was sold to Tiwari and Ansari, who in turn sold it to the trust, the Congress spokesperson claimed.
Surjewala said the trust formed for the construction of the temple for Lord Ram, who is considered a symbol of faith by crores of people, was set up on February 5 last year on the directions of the Supreme Court.
He said the facts that have come to light point to a "big scam" in funds collected from devotees and this amounts to committing a big sin and wrongdoing.
But Prime Minister Modi, who formed the trust on the directions of the Supreme Court, is totally silent, Surjewala said.
"Will the prime minister answer if those sinners, who have traded the faith of Lord Ram's devotees, have his protection," he said.
"How could BJP leaders commit such a big malpractice in the name of Lord Ram whose words, values and ethical conduct are sworn as ideals. How much more land has been purchased in such a manner at throwaway rates out of funds received for the temple's construction," Surjewala asked.
He said that "with such a scam and facts coming to light", the Congress demands that the prime minister answer to the nation.
The chief justice and the Supreme Court must take cognisance of the matter and order a court-monitored probe into the charges, Surjewala said.
The Congress leader said the Supreme Court should also get under its aegis an audit done for all the donations and funds received and spent by the trust for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
It should also carry out a probe on the assessment value of all land purchased by the trust from donations and make it public in the traditions of idealism of Lord Ram, he demanded.
Asked if the Congress will seek stopping of the construction work of the Ram temple, Surjewala said the work which is being carried out on full swing should continue and not be stopped.