PATNA: Eager to widen its foothold in Bihar’s north-eastern districts with sizeable Muslim population, BJP organised its state executive meeting in Muslim-majority Kishanganj. Amid the three-day brainstorming, some leaders raised an emotive issue that the saffron party may keep raising in the coming months.
Three top BJP leaders—Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav and leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Prem Kumar—gathered at a half-constructed Kali temple on government land in Kishanganj town.
They prayed there and lambasted the district administration and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance government for preventing the temple’s construction.
Muslims comprise about 78 per cent of the population in Kishanganj, making it Bihar’s only district and Lok Sabha constituency where they outnumber Hindus. Located close to the Bangladesh border, Kishanganj is also India’s largest Muslim-populated area after the Kashmir Valley and Lakshadweep.
“If the state government does not allow resumption of this temple of Kali Mata, we will not wait for permission. The people will begin a kar seva and resume construction of this 40-year-old temple,” said Singh, MoS for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.
Construction of the temple on government land near the circuit house was stopped by the administration in October 2016. While encroachment was the reason, the Union minister accused sub-divisional officer Mohammad Shafiq of trying to demolish the temple.
Singh’s talk of beginning a kar seva at the Kali temple site prompted many to have visions of the type of mob action at Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid. Near the Kali temple at Kishanganj stands a mosque. The uproar caused by Singh’s statements reportedly led to BJP leaders decide against including the Kali temple issue in the party’s state resolutions. The ruling JD(U), RJD and Congress attacked the BJP leaders’ visit to the temple site and talking of beginning a kar seva.
“BJP leaders are trying to create communal discord in Bihar in the name of their state executive meeting in Kishanganj. We will not allow it to happen,” said Minority Affairs Minister Abdul Gafoor. Similar criticism also came from RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav and leaders of JD(U) and Congress.