Former Speaker Nana Patole and Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis sparred over Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) collection drive for the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Patole, who heads the state Congress unit, claimed BJP was recovering toll underway under the garb of Ram Mandir construction. “Has Ram been permitted to collect toll in his name?” he asked in the state assembly, which made Fadnavis and other BJP members take objection.
Patole alleged that some people threatened him for not donating for the construction of the temple and equated the donation drive to toll collection. "I asked one of them that 30 years ago, you had taken the money to build the temple. Where is that money? So, he replied that, if you did not give the money, then you will be thrown out of the religion," he said.
He sought to know under which charitable arrangement the donation drive in Maharashtra for Ram Mandir is being carried out. "Do we have the right to ask where is the Rs 1,400 crore that was collected 30 years ago?" he said. “I am a Hindu and I had donated for the Ram Mandir, but there is no account of that money,” he said, adding, "BJP has been attacking Shiv Sena. However, now, the country is attacking BJP over the funds."
However, BJP legislator Ashish Shelar took objection to Patole’s statement and asked whether the latter has been delegated ministerial powers. Fadnavis asked the chair whether the debate is underway on the Ram Mandir construction. He called for a special discussion. “Those who are habituated to extortion will not understand the importance of dedication. If you have the guts, organise a debate in the house,” he said. While Fadnavis was making his point, BJP legislators shouted Jai Shriram.