In a major embarrassment to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), party's minorities wing secretary K S Masthan who is also the Gingee constituency representative in the State Assembly has, last week, donated Rs 11,000 for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. This has created a ruffle among the alliance parties of DMK. While some welcome the act, some have distanced themselves.
The Viduthalai Siruthaigal Katchi leader and the Member of Parliament from Villupuram constituency, D Ravikumar, calls it a symbolic act of religious harmony. "It should be viewed as a symbolic act of religious harmony though I wouldn't make such a contribution myself. For that matter, I will not contribute to Babri Masjid construction either. I would rather contribute to building schools. But one must note that the government has given 80G tax exemption for Ram Temple contribution but not for those who contribute to Babri Masjid construction. I had raised this issue in the last concluded parliamentary session. But there has been no reply from the government yet. The government should also ensure religious harmony," he said.
The state secretary of Communist Party, R Mutharasan, when contacted refused to comment on this.
The state secretary of Communist party of India (Marxist), K Balakrishnan, says this is not right. "Usually residents of a village come forward to build a temple or a mosque and members of all the communities contribute to the construction willingly out of love and mutual respect. But contributing to the construction of Ram Temple is not the same. A masjid had been demolished and the construction of the temple was taken up by the government. Construction of Ram Temple is sectarian politics. It is against secularism. I don't understand how one can view this as an act of religious harmony."
The President of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, K S Alagiri, welcomes the move. He says, "Members of one community donating for the construction of a worship place of another community is very common. It is just that this time it has made it in the news. The issue of demolition of Babri masjid is over. Muslims have accepted it. So this is only an act of religious harmony. I will contribute too if needed."
The Makkal Needhi Maiyam President, Kamal Haasan, when asked his views during a press meet in Chennai said: "It is politics and we are also doing politics".
DMK itself has never considered the construction of Ram Temple as an act of religious harmony.
DMK President M K Stalin had earlier accused CBI of failing to prove the conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case despite the Supreme Court's ruling that the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destruction.
M S Masthan donated his funds through former MLA from Mugaiyur constituency in Villupuram and BJP Villupuram district secretary Kalivarthan. He says, "I have been donating funds for temples for many decades now. In the last five years during my tenure as MLA, I have attended 320 temple festivals and I receive the 'first respect' given in many temples. Donating for Ram Temple is also the same. People, who want to do politics with it, will do it. There is peace in the country because everyone accepted the Supreme Court order, right?"
Fund collection drive for Ram Temple was launched by Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, which was set up as per the direction of the Supreme Court, on January 15 and will go on till February 27.