If Bharatiya Janata Party Rajnath Singh has his way, the Bamiyan Buddha could rise again.
This time, though, in India.
In Kushi Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, where the Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death.
The Bamiyan Buddhas -- the two sixth century monumental statues of standing Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan -- were destroyed by the Taliban during their rule.
The BJP chief and former chief minister of UP, who is on a five-day visit to the United States, reiterated this on Tuesday at a major Afghan policy speech at Capitol Hill, jointly organised by the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies; US India Political Action Committee and American Foreign Policy Council.
"I would like to recall that I was the chief minister of India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, when one of Afghanistan's most prestigious and adorable historic sites at Bamiyan, which was also the world's biggest statue of Bhagwan Buddha, was vandalised by the fundamentalist regime of Taliban in 2001," Singh said in his key note address to the Conference on Afghanistan.
"At that time, as a symbol of the common commitment of India and Afghanistan to global peace and harmony, I pledged to build the replica of Bamiyan Buddha at Kushi Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, a town where Bhagwan Buddha had attained heavenly abode. I am sure this conference would be a forum to reiterate that commitment by all the distinguished people here," the BJP chief said, adding that India and Afghanistan share a millennia-old strong civilisational bond.
"The linkages go back to the Harappan civilisation, the spread of Buddhism, followed by the spread of Islam under the Turks and later the Moghuls. We in the BJP attach key importance to these age-old bonds as the foundation for a lasting friendship with our north-western neighbour," he said.
Assuring Afghanistan of India’s full cooperation in attaining stability, peace and establishing democracy, Rajnath Singh said, "We applaud their determined efforts to establish a democratic and progressive Afghanistan. As the world's largest democracy, India would always be there to help Afghan people in their endeavour to democratise, modernise and stabilise their country."
“The US, the world's oldest democratic nation, will, I am sure, stand with Afghanistan in the long run in its democratic nation-building enterprise,” he said.
"Afghanistan has passed through very difficult times in the last three decades. Conflict with the Soviet Union, followed by the repressive Taliban regime brought innumerable sufferings to the people of Afghanistan,” and the people of Afghanistan now deserve peace and stability, he said.