By Abdul Qadir, Times of India
GAYA: The recent demonstrations by the Neo-Buddhists and the threat to intensify their agitation for total Buddhist control over the Buddha shrine has once again brought into focus the controversy surrounding the temple management.
The shrine, as of now, is jointly managed by a nine-member committee comprising five Hindus and four Buddhists. But while the Buddhists demand total control over the shrine management, organizations like VHP and other Hindu religious groups want the status quo to continue in shrine management.
A few years back when R S Gavai was the governor of the state, a move was made to find a permanent solution to the problem through the time-tested middle path approach. The then governor Gavai along with the Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts chief Kishore Kunaldevised a formula for the settlement of the issue.
As per the Gavai-Kunal formula, though the shrine was to remain under joint management, the respective position of the two communities in the management committee was to be altered to make it a Buddhist majority committee with five Buddhists and four Hindus.
Besides making the management committee Buddhist majority, the formula envisaged the post of secretary to be reserved for the Buddhists. Though, the Temple Management Act 1949, governing the management of the most sacred Buddhist shrine does not explicitly favour any community vis a vis the post of the secretary, the fact remains that but for two Buddhists including N Dorje, the incumbent secretary, all the secretaries during the last six decades have been non-Buddhists.
Another important feature of the Gavai- Kunal formula pertained to the deletion of the clause in the Act which says that the 'Hindu' district magistrate of Gaya would be the ex-officio chairman of the shrine management committee and in case of Gaya DM being a non-Hindu, the state government will nominate a Hindu to head the committee.
The Gavai-Kunal formula wanted the post of chairman to be made 'faith neutral' by giving the position of the chairman to the DM ex-officio irrespective of his/her religious belief.
Amrawati (Maharashtra) former governor Gavai, while confirming the contents of the formula told TOI on Sunday that he had discussions with chief minister Nitish Kumar on the permanent solution of the problem but his transfer brought things back to square one. Acknowledging the formula, Kunal said the solution ultimately depends on the approach of all the three stake-holders---the Buddhists, Hindu organizations and the state government. According to Bodh Gaya watchers, it is for the state government to take a call on Gavai-Kunal formula as its implementation requires an amendment in the existing Act, which the state government alone is capable of doing.
Source : Times of India >>