CHURUMURI POLL: Is Nepal row Indian business?

The controversy over the decision of the Maoist government of Nepal to force priests from Karnataka at the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu to resign and appoint Nepalese priests in their place threatens, among other things, to turn into a fullblown bilateral row between India and Nepal.

On the one hand, BJP president Rajnath Singh has written to Nepal’s prime minister Prachanda urging the reinstatement of the South Indian Bhatta priests, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishat (VHP) has alleged the Maoists were eyeing the priceless jewels in the 17th century temple. On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav has “expressed concern” over the sacking of the priests.

Question: Should Indian politicians interfere in the religious affairs of another country? Merely because we are an 80 per cent Hindu nation, does it give India the right to dictate terms to the “Hindu Kingdom” or any other country for that matter? Is Nepal, now the world’s newest republic, within its rights to embark on temple reforms? Or are the “godless” Maoists playing politics by making the temple the centrepiece of Nepalese identity?

Should the government of Manmohan Singh step in?