Two Union ministers and a senior BJP leader today courted controversy by visiting a half-built, closed temple located near a mosque on government land, triggering demands to open it up for local people. The controversial step was taken by Union ministers of state Giriraj Singh and Ramkripal Yadav, and Bihar’s Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar, who visited the temple and performed puja at the “Kali Mata Mandir” in this Muslim-dominated border district, triggering angry reactions from RJD and JD-U leaders.
The BJP leader were here to attend the ongoing two-day executive committee meet of the party state unit here. Encouraged by the ministers’ visit, people assembled in large number at the temple and demanded that it be opened to the devotees for regular visit.
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The temple is in vicinity of a mosque, which stands on government land, like the temple, and is in use. Speaking to the reporters later, Giriraj Singh accused Sub Divisional Officer Mohammad Shafiq of trying to demolish the half-built temple, located on a piece of government land near Kalu chowk, in October 2016.
Singh alleged that following a strong intervention by the SDO, the construction of the temple was stopped and the people were prohibited from visiting it. Singh, who is a minister of state for MSME in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, demanded immediate removal of the SDO and reopening of the temple for devotees.
Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar alleged that the state’s Grand Alliance government was indulging in appeasement of Muslims and stopping the devotees from paying obeisance at the Kali Mata temple. Reacting to Singh’s comments, Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav accused the BJP of trying to vitiate the communal harmony in the state.
His RJD colleague and Minister for Minorities Affairs Abdul Gafoor told reporters, “Since the BJP has no positive agenda in Bihar, they are trying to whip up communal tension by raking up the issue of a disputed temple at Kisanganj.”
State Congress chief and minister Ashok Choudhary also came down heavily on the BJP accusing its leaders of “making regular efforts to disturb “aman-chain” (communal harmony) in the state under the Grand Alliance government.”
Accusing MOS Giriraj Singh of “provoking” people, Choudhary sought action against him.
Senior JD(U) leader and Deputy Leader in Bihar Assembly Shyam Rajak also criticised Giriraj Singh and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi remove him as a minister for “playing up with the law.”
The BJP is holding its two-day state executive meeting here, which started yesterday, in Muslim-dominated Kisanganj district on the border of West Bengal.