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8february20104Dharamshala: Chief Minister of Bihar State Ponders Future of Buddha Relics with Dalai Lama. Chief Minister Nitish attended a meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet at His Holiness' private residence in Dharamshala. The Chief Minister is expected to formally invite His Holiness to visit Patna to inaugurate the highly anticipated Buddha Memorial Park which is expected to open in April-May this year, The Times of India reported on Monday.

The vast park, with meditation hall, is being constructed to commemorate the 2550th year of Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha. Construction work is being handled by the Infrastructure Development Finance Company. It is expected to cost Rs 125 crore.

The Chief Minister flew from Delhi to Dharamshala after attending the Chief Ministers' conference on internal security on Sunday. The Kashag, headed by Kalon Tripa Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, hosted a dinner reception in honour of the visiting Chief Minister yesterday, Secretary Migyur Dorjee told TibetNet.

Officials said that since His Holiness the Dalai Lama holds the status of head of state, the appointment was sought through the ministry of external affairs.

It is expected that a date for the inauguration of the park by His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be finalized after discussion between the two leaders.

The Chief Minister is expected to seek the intervention of His Holiness to retain the urn containing the holy relics of Lord Buddha so that they can be displayed in the park. The relics have been preserved at Patna Museum for about 60 years after their discovery during excavations in Vaishali.

The relics have become a political issue as politicians opposed to Nitish are lobbying for the relics to be stored in Vaishali where they were discovered. Recently, when Nitish was camping in Vaishali during his Pravas Yatra, the matter was raised and the Chief Minister asserted that the relics would be kept in Vaishali provided they were properly preserved there.

Sources insisted that the very purpose of building the park was to store the relics. "Buddhists and tourists have reason to visit Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Nalanda and Vaishali, but there is nothing to attract them to Patna. It had been planned to keep the relics in the park for display in a bid to attract the tourists," sources said.

If His Holiness the Dalai Lama intervenes and gives sanction for keeping the relics in the park, "nobody will dare oppose it," sources added.

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