UDUPI: Sri Vishwaprasanna Theertha of Pejawar Mutt in Udupi, one of the trustees of the ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra’ trust, says RSS and VHP have been given the responsibility of collecting funds for the construction of Ram Temple as they are the biggest institutions in the country. On former CM HD Kumaraswamy’s allegation that he was threatened by some volunteers during the fund collection drive, the seer asks how can one be sure whether these charges are true, though there could be truth in it. Kumaraswamy should file a police complaint against such people, he adds. Excerpts:
How is the Ram Temple fund collection drive going on? Why was the responsibility given to VHP?
Fund collection is going on according to our plan and people are more enthusiastic than expected. The VHP and RSS have been given the responsibility as they are the biggest institutions in the country with unparalleled stature. The drive was launched simultaneously across the country to avoid corruption.
Are you responsible for seeking funds only in South?
No such division of responsibility among trustees was made. I would have visited North India states, but time is not permitting. I have limited my visits to Southern states. We have collected over Rs 1,000 crore, and the drive will continue till Magha Poornima (February 27). Later too people can contribute by remitting the money to the Trust bank account.
Why was the physical collection of funds preferred, and not an online drive?
It was for a reason. In rural parts, villagers have to travel some distance to reach banks and their access to banking activities is not at a level that urbanites think it is. We had to roll this out as a physical campaign to enable everyone to be a part of this historic movement. As many people wanted to contribute, the network of VHP and RSS was put to work for their convenience.
Former CMs H D Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah are wary of the drive. HDK has said VHP volunteers are marking households that did not contribute...
There is no compulsion on anyone to contribute. It applies to former CMs too. A false impression is being created that houses that do not contribute are being marked. VHP volunteers ran out of coupons and receipt books as there was unexpected response. To keep the drive transparent, houses would have been marked to facilitate volunteers to return and collect funds later with receipt book.
How do people know those collecting funds are from VHP?
We had to make the drive convenient for people. We made sure that VHP volunteers collected funds from their areas and not from other places. People knew these volunteers.
The episode narrated by Kumaraswamy that three volunteers threatened him for not contributing garnered media attention...
Kumaraswamy is a former chief minister. The matter would have been closed if he had filed a police complaint. He did not name or identify those ‘volunteers’. How can one accept his statement as true? I am not saying that this incident did not happen to him.
But, he has the option of filing the complaint. Speaking against the work of institutions like VHP is not correct on his part. Some politicians also questioned who gave VHP the power to reach out to the people at their doorsteps. My answer is... the same system that allows politicians to go door to door seeking votes has given volunteers the power to collect funds.