Bhopal: In an innocuous-looking handout issued on Monday, the Kamal Nath government announced its decision to build a Sita temple in Sri Lanka and a section of media saw in it as extension of the governments soft Hindutva policy.
It would be oversimplifying the matter. There is more to it than meeting the eyes.
In 2010, the then Shivraj Singh Chouhan-government had announced to build a Sita temple at the site, where, according to mythological belief, Ravana held her hostage. The then state government had also sanctioned Rs 1 crore for the temple. However, no progress was made over nine years. Because no official decision was put on record. The announcement like many of the other such made by Chouhan, was only for media consumption. No file was moved in this direction.
State Public Relations Minister PC Sharma had said it way back in July 2019 that the former CM had visited Sri Lanka only to gain political mileage.
"We couldn't find even a single file that specifies the previous government's efforts to construct the temple," Sharma said.
Shortly after coming to power Nath said he would have carried forward from where Chouhan left but for the election code in force Lok Sabha. The Kamal Nath government also announced a plan to verify if the spot was there.
A war of words had broken out between Chouhan and the Congress government in the state over the site for proposed temple.
Accusing Kamal Nath-government of hurting people's sentiments, Chouhan said that the Congress government, instead of completing the temple project, was "verifying the fact whether Mata Sita was abducted or not".
"Kamal Nath-government's officers will conduct a survey in Sri Lanka to verify whether Mata Sita was abducted or not. How ridiculous! Kamal Nath-government has hurt the sentiments of crores of people by announcing a probe to examine the fact, which the entire world knows," the BJP leader had tweeted.
"The whole country and the world know that Sitaji was held captive in Ashok Vatika in Lanka. She had to undergo ‘Agni pareeksha' (trial by fire). When I had visited Sri Lanka, I felt that there should be a magnificent temple at the site. I am shocked that Kamal Nath government is talking about verifying the facts," he added in another tweet.
On Monday Nath directed officers to prepare a blueprint for the proposed Sita temple and a committee comprising officials of Madhya Pradesh and Mahabodhi Society in Sri Lanka will oversee the construction, said the government in a press statement.
Banagla Uptisa, chief of the Mahabodhi Society, called on Nath in Bhopal on Monday and discussed several issues, including the construction of the temple.
Nath then issued his officers instructions to finalise the temple design and look into the allocation of budget during the current financial year in order to build the temple at the earliest.