BJP president Rajnath Singh has pledged to build a replica of Bamiyan Buddha at Kushi Nagar in Uttar Pradesh where Gautam Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death.
Singh, who is on a five-day visit to the United States, reiterated on Wednesday his pledge during a major Afghan-policy speech at the Capitol Hill, jointly organised by the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies; US India Political Action Committee and American Foreign Policy Council.
The Bamiyan Buddhas - the two 6th 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.
"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 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.
"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."
People of Afghanistan now deserve peace and stability, he said.
Assuring Afghanistan of 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.