Dalai Lama’s 85th birthday: Why BJP leaders are thronging to greet Tibetan spiritual leader

The Dalai Lama on Monday celebrated his 85th birthday at his residence in Dharamshala. As part of the celebrations, he shared a video message to his followers asking them to say prayers from their homes.

"If you want to celebrate my birthday, I would like to ask you to recite the Mani mantra (Om Mani Padme Hung), at least a thousand times."

Notably, the senior BJP leadership thronged on social media to wish the religious leader, who fled Tibet and sought refuge in India on March 30, 1959. Several leaders from the BJP top-brass, including Ram Madhav, Kiren Rijuju, and Pema Khandu have already wished the spiritual leader.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are yet to wish the spiritual leader, although they have taken to Twitter to remember the memory of Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, who was born on this day in 1901.

PM Modi and Amit Shah’s silence may be because of the skirmishes between India and China that began on June 15. While PM Modi has visited Ladakh and spoken to the troops and even indirectly accused China of always encroaching on the land of other nations. However, during the speech, the prime minister did not mention China or its Premier Xi Jinping even once. In contrast, PM Modi has been the first to call out Pakistan every time the country has violated ceasefire and sent terrorists into Indian soil.

It’s a catch 22 situation for PM Modi. While his party men have been vocal in criticising China and even passed a resolution in banning 50 Made in China apps, including TikTok, the Prime Minister – as India’s sole representative – has been cautious with his wordings when it comes to the Xi Jinping-led regime. PM Modi knows that rubbing China the wrong way would impact India economically, but he also knows that the Dalai Lama has backed the Government of India on more than one occasion.

In 2018, the Dalai Lama even said that countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Syria about how they can learn from India about religious tolerance so that there is more peace in the world. Furthermore, his silence on the Rohingya crisis – especially when it came to India’s role in rounding up Rohingya Muslims, drew a lot of criticism, as this Washington Post article suggests .

The Dalai Lama in 2018 was also critical of Jawaharlal Nehru’s actions during the partition. Had Jawaharlal Nehru not been self-centred, India and Pakistan would have been one country, he had said.

"Mahatma Gandhi wanted to give the prime ministership to (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah. But Nehru refused. He was self-centred. He said, 'I wanted to be Prime Minister'. India and Pakistan would have been united (had Jinnah been made Prime Minister at the time). Pandit Nehru is very experienced. But mistakes do happen," the Dalai Lama said.

If PM Modi, and then Amit Shah eventually wish the Dalai Lama on his 85th birthday, it will be interesting to see how Beijing responds. Of course, that is a big if. Until then, their wishes will be conveyed through the rest of the BJP.

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