The Controversial Bodhgaya Temple (Amendment) Bill 2013

The Controversial Bodh Gaya Temple (Amendment) Bill has been recently passed by Bihar Assembly. This bill is an Amendment to the Bodh Gaya Temple  Act 1949, which mandates that a Non-Hindu cannot be the Chairman of Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee which governs the affairs of the World Famous Mahabodhi Temple.

Mahabodhi Temple Bodh Gaya

The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya is one of the World Heritage Sites

At present a there are 4 Hindu and 4 Buddhist members of the BTMC. The DM of the Gaya is ex-officio Chairman of the BTMC.  Earlier, if the DM was non-Hindu, the Government appointed a separate Head of the Committee.

The Bill has started a fresh controversy on its own. Many opine that since it is a religious place, it should be handled by the people of concerned religion only.

Former Deputy CM Sushil Modi opposed the Bill terming it haste-driven. He opined that CM Nitish Kumar should have sought the opinion of Dalai Lama and Shankaracharyas before getting the Bodh Gaya Temple (Amendment) Bill 2013 passed in the assembly.

“Only CM’s meeting with the Minority Commission chairman would not solve the issue unless and until he takes various national level Buddhist organizations into confidence. If Dalai Lama agrees to this provision, we will have no problem. Similarly, CM should take consent of all the Sankaracharyas”,  Sushil Modi was quoted saying.

Buddisht organization have called this bill unnecessary. As per a report in The Hindu, Bhante Pragyadeep of the All India Bhiku Sangha termed the move as “vote bank politics.”

“The amendment makes no sense. It is not even beneficial in any way. Our demand was to amend the 1949 Act, increase the number of Buddhists on the Committee and give the management of the temple to the Buddhists. That demand has still not been addressed. You do not have a Buddhist DM. As an official position the move is right in its place, but this is a question of faith,” said Pragyadeep.

However CM Nitish Kumar maintains that this bill strengthens the Secular backbone of the Country.