Buddhist monks have decided to intensify their struggle for the takeover of the Bodh Gaya Temple Management.
The Buddha Gaya Mahabodhi Vihar All India Action Committee, a representative body of monks, has resolved to enroll more members and open branches in different states to put pressure on the government for amending the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee Act, 1949.
As per the existing law, the management committee is responsible for the upkeep and repair of the temple, the improvement of the temple land, welfare and safety of the pilgrims and proper performance of worship at the temple. The District Magistrate of Gaya is the ex-officio chairman of the nine-member committee while Nangzey Dorjee, retired IAS of Sikkim cadre is the Member-Secretary. The other seven members are both Buddhists and non-Buddhists.
The action committee of Buddhists, however, opposes the Act and wants total control of the temple in the hands of Buddhists. The national chairman of action committee Bhadant Anand Mahathero, who has been spearheading the agitation for a long time, said that opening of offices and the membership drive would be followed by a public awareness campaign and contact programme to garner support of people for the agitation.
However, the Buddhists appear to be divided over the issue. A section of Buddhists have floated All India Dhamma Sena espousing similar cause. The Sena supporters have projected Bhadant Arya Nagarjuna Surai Sesai as their Mahanayak to cash in on his earlier association with the temple management committee. The Sena has also announced to stage a demonstration and gherao Parliament on December 10.
Reacting to the floating of Sena, Bhadant Anand alleged that some people were trying to mislead people by constituting another organization. He said that Sesai was member of the temple management committee since 1995 and also remained member of the National Minority Commission for three years. He never actually wanted amendment in the existing Act and only pretended to launch agitation for it, he alleged.