The visit of Bihar IT Minister Mohammad Israil Mansuri to the sanctum sanctorum of the Vishnupad temple, along with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has given another chance to the opposition BJP to attack the government.
State BJP President Sanjay Jaiswal asked Nitish Kumar to go to Mecca and Madina if he dared.
"CM Nitish Kumar insulted the sentiments of Hindus after taking a Muslim minister inside the Garbhgriha of the Vishnupad temple. If he has dare, go to Mecca and Madina. Is he entering the Jama Masjid? He had deliberately brought Mansoori inside the temple to hurt the sentiments of Hindu community," he alleged.
MoS Home Nityanand Rai went a step ahead and targeted Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, saying: "He is a person who believes in opening of slaughterhouses while we are the persons who pray for cows. Nitish Kumar deliberately took a Muslim minister under RJD quota to take into the Vishnupad temple and hurt the sentiments of Hundu community."
Mansoori however said: "It was a great pleasure for me when I entered the Garbhagriha in the temple with the Chief Minister.
His RJD strongly condemned Rai's statement. State spokesperson Ejaj Ahmed said: "Nityanand Rai is sitting on the constitutional post in the country, still he has used objectionable and derogatory words for the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar."
State minister Jama Khan said: "The country runs on the basis of a Constitution which allows persons of any community to go anywhere. BJP does not have any issue, hence its leaders are making hue and cry to get attention."
JD-U state President Umesh Kushwaha said: "CM Nitish Kumar is a leader who advocates secularism in the country. CM Nitish Kumar respects every religion. BJP is just doing politics over the issue."
Meanwhile, Vishnupad temple shrine officials objected to the entry of Mansoori. The temple shrine board cited the inscription that non-Hindu people are not allowed inside the premises.
Temple management committee chief Shambhu Lal Vitthal said: "When Mansoori entered the temple on Monday, we were not aware of his religion. Those who accompanied him, had the responsibility to stop him entering the temple. It has hurt Sanatan Dharma and the Panda community."
"Since the controversy created at large scale, we have washed the temple premises and Garbhgriha with Gangajal and purified it," he said.
Located on the bank of Falgu river and built of Kasauti stone, Vishnupad temple has great importance and is known as a "Moksha Dham". According to Vedas and Puranas, the temple was built on the image of Lord Vishnu's feet (Pad). After doing the Pind Daan in the temple, the dead person achieves Moksha.
The image of Lord Vishnu is present in the garbhagriha. It has been said that the god, in a bid to stop violence of the devil Gayasur, put his feet on the place where the garbhahriha stands.
It was renovated by Indore's queen Maharani Ahilya Bai in 1787.