The Bihar government has turned down a suggestion by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to hand over the running and management of Bodhgaya to Buddhists.
Under the 1949 Bodhgaya Temple Act, the eight-member management committee of the shrine has to have an equal number of Hindus and Buddhists, and should be headed by a Hindu. The reason being the existence of a Hindu structure inside the complex.
The district magistrate of Gaya is the ex-officio chairman of the committee and the Act says that if the DM is a non-Hindu, the government should nominate a Hindu as chairman.
Finding the archaic Act retrogade, the NCM had asked the Bihar government to consider amending it and putting the shrine under Buddhist control. However, in its reply, the Nitish Kumar government has said this was not feasible , without attributing a reason.
The Mahabodhi shrine is regarded as one of the holiest Buddhist sites, visited by a large number of foreign tourists, and Buddhists have complained that it is not properly managed and maintained.
The NCM had asked Deputy Chairman H T Sangliana to give a detailed report on maintenance of the UNESCO world heritage site recently.
After a visit to Bodhgaya, he is learnt to have described the look of the area as shabby and unpleasant . The temple administration seems to be not working at all , Sangliana told The India
In his report, Sangliana said he was not in favour of the insistence on a Hindu chairman for the BTMC (Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee)... It would have been better to just say DM of Gaya without mention or religion .
We are planning to meet the Chief Minister (on the issue), NCM Chairman Wajahat Habibullah told The Indian Express.
Nitish, incidentally, has been projecting Bihar as the cradle of Buddhism and inviting Buddhist tourists to the state.