Two temples were demolished during an anti-encroachment drive in Alwar district's Rajgarh, triggering an exchange of barbs on Friday between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan.
Rajgarh is a BJP-run municipality in Congress-ruled Rajasthan.
Alwar's BJP MP Balaknath alleged that the idols at one of the temples too were damaged in the demolition early this week.
Rajasthan minister Shanti Dhariwal blamed the BJP and said the state government is examining the matter.
Two temples and some shops were demolished on Sunday and Monday with officials describing the action as part of an anti-encroachment drive to widen a road in the town.
They said the demolition was approved by the Rajgarh Nagar Palika Board headed by the BJP and denied any damage to the idols or the sanctum sanctorum of the temples.
Alwar collector Nakate Shivprasad Madan said the proposal was passed by the Nagar Palika board and the action was taken in accordance with the decision of the local administration in the presence of police.
"In the meeting of the board headed by its chairman, a proposal to remove encroachments was passed. The executive officer accordingly issued notices and then the demolition was done," the collector said.
Rajgarh Sub-Divisional Magistrate Keshav Meena said the Nagar Palika's executive officer had issued notices to 86 people on April 6 to remove encroachments from the road and they were given time.
The action of demolition of over 100 structures was taken on April 17 and 18, he added.
He further said one temple was completely demolished but the owners of the temples had removed the idols.
The second temple was partially demolished but its sanctum sanctorum is safe, he added.
"The one-km stretch of the road is 50 to 54 feet wide in the master plan but it had been reduced to 25-28 feet at present due to encroachments. Encroachments from half of the road were removed earlier and the remaining encroachments were demolished on Sunday and Monday," SDM Meena said.
Other encroachments were mainly due to shops, he added.
As the anti-encroachment drive triggered the row, Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia accused the Congress of being behind the demolition, while state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra asserted that it was the decision of the city's municipality headed by the saffron party.
BJP's Rajya Sabha member Kirodi Mal Meena reached Rajgarh on Friday and sat on a dharna before a police station there, protesting over the demolition of the temple that the BJP claimed to be 300 years old.
But the BJP said the Congress will have to face its consequences.
Poonia said in Udaipur that the videos on social media showed a bulldozer demolishing the 300-year-old Shiva temple.
"It is in the public domain that all these actions were taken at the behest of the state government," he claimed without elaborating.
The party has also formed a "fact-finding committee" headed by Sikar MP Swami Sumedhanand, he added.
"They will give me a report in three days," he said. The committee has five members including Sumedhanand.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore accused Rajgarh's Congress MLA Johari Lal Meena of being involved in the matter.
Claiming that the idols were damaged, Alwar MP Balaknath accused Rajasthan's Congress government of hurting people's sentiment and working to appease a particular community.
Urban Development Minister Shanti Dhariwal held a press conference along with Food and Civil Supply Minister Pratap Singh Khachariawas to deny the BJP allegation of the Congress being behind the demolition.
No one opposed when the structures were demolished and now a communal atmosphere is being deliberately created, he said.
He said the government is examining the matter and has sought a report.
"The proposal to remove the encroachment was passed in the meeting of the BJP board in Rajgarh Nagar Palika. They demolished it and are now blaming the Congress," Dhariwal told reporters.
Rejecting Poonia's allegations, Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dotasra accused the BJP of misleading people and playing politics over religion.
"It is the habit of the BJP and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) to commit wrongs and spread communal frenzy. One temple was private but its idols were removed.
"The second temple was partially demolished but its sanctum sanctorum is safe," Dotasara said.
He said even during the rule of the former BJP government headed by Vasundhara Raje, hundreds of temples were demolished in Jaipur.
Dotasra said the demolition proposal was passed by the Rajgarh municipality board which alone is responsible for it.
Dotasra asserted that the Congress government does not target any religious place.