Bihar Chief Minister refuses to budge over Buddha's relics

PTI, June 25, 2007

PATNA, India -- Charging Union Minister and RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh with "playing politics" over shifting relics of Lord Buddha to his parliamentary constituency Vaishali, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asserted he will not "buckle under pressure."

"Bihar government, particularly I, cannot be pressured into taking a decision that suits a person and his political ambitions," Kumar said, adding his government had never come out with a statement saying that the relics would not be transferred to Vaishali.

"Everybody knows that I am not a person who will buckle under pressure - the proposal is under active consideration of the government and a judicious decision will be taken at an appropriate time," Kumar said and asked Singh to desist from "playing politics" over the issue.

"What was he (Singh) doing during all those 15 years when RJD was in power? It did not occur to him then that the rightful place for the relics is Vaishali," he said, adding the minister's intensified campaign for shifting the urn containing the ashes of Buddha was with an eye on the approaching Lok Sabha elections.

Singh, the Union Rural Development Minister, had recently approached NDA Chairman Atal Bihari Vajpayee and alliance convenor George Fernandes, who wrote to Kumar requesting him to consider the demand for shifting the relics to Vaishali where it was discovered during excavation in 1958.