AHMEDABAD: Senior Gujarat Congress leader Bharatsinh Solanki on Tuesday stirred a controversy by claiming the ruling BJP had "deceived" Lord Ram by siphoning off funds meant for the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The former Gujarat Congress president, while a gathering of OBCs in Dholka town in Ahmedabad district, claimed 'Ram Shilas', bricks with Shri Ram inscribed on them, were lying uncared for on the outskirts of villages.
The BJP slammed the Congress leader for his comments and said they reflected "hatred" his party has for the Ram Temple coming up in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
"Though the government gave crores of rupees for the construction of a Ram Temple, they went from door to door to collect funds in the name of Ram Temple.
When I once asked what they do with this money, they said 'we throw the notes in the air, Ram keeps whatever he wants, while we keep notes which fall on the ground'," Solanki alleged.
"In the past (when the Ram Janmbhoomi movement started), I saw women applying vermilion on 'Ram Shilas' and putting them on the outskirts of their village after taking out processions hoping that a Ram Temple will be built one day. Now these shilas lie in utter neglect. If these people (BJP) can deceive Ram, will they spare the common man?" asked the former Union minister.
Taking strong exception, BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, who was in Gandhinagar during the day, said Solanki's comments on Lord Ram prove how much the Congress "hates" the Ram Mandir, which the saffron party leader said was the biggest centre of Hindu faith.
"When the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement began, the BJP had two seats while they (the Congress) held 414 seats in the Lok Sabha (in 1984). Today, we have over 300 seats, while they came down to 44 (in 2014) and then to 52 (in 2019). Cultural issues should be handled with complete honesty instead of indulging in dirty politics," Trivedi said.
However, Solanki later offered an explanation claiming he was targeting the BJP and not disrespecting Lord Ram.
"I was only highlighting that Ram Shilas were sent with so much faith by the people but they (the BJP) did not take care (of them)," Solanki told reporters after the event.