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Ramayana museum: Sharma to inspect site in Ayodhya today

It seems Lord Ram will be once again playing a pivotal role in BJP’s election campaign in Uttar Pradesh. Tourism and Cultural Minister Mahesh Sharma will be in Ayodhya on Tuesday to inspect the land allotted for construction of a Ramayana museum.

His visit has kicked up a controversy wherein other political parties are terming this move as an attempt to woo pro-Hindutva vote bank ahead of assembly polls in UP.  

Clearing the air, Sharma stated that there is no political agenda behind his visit as it is part of the tourism development plans of the Modi-government and should not be linked with elections in the politically crucial state.

“My visit to Ayodhya has nothing to do with UP Assembly elections. I am visiting there as a Tourism Minister. It should not be linked to politics but is part of government’s effort to improve tourism in Ayodhya and all over the country. The visit is part of developmental agenda,” the Gautam Buddha Nagar MP added.

However, not buying this explanation other political parties said that there is a political agenda behind this move. “Whenever polls come the Ram Temple issue is raised by the BJP. They have no respect for Lord Ram or Ram Temple. They remember Lord Ram only when elections are there,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.   

The state government, headed by Akhilesh Yadav, has identified a 25-acre plot for the museum which is some 15 km away from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex, said ministry sources.

The Tourism Ministry earlier this year had given a green signal to develop Ramayana circuit along with Krishna Circuit and Buddha Circuit to boost religious tourism. This Ramayana museum will be a part of the Ramayana Circuit for which the Centre has sanctioned Rs 225 crore, with Rs 151 crore exclusively for Ayodhya, which is the hub of the circuit. 

“Ram is in the heart of millions of people. As the Tourism Minister, I have to see how Ayodhya can be developed, how Ramayana circuit can be developed from tourism point of view,” the minister said.

The minister will also hold a meeting with Ramayana Circuit Advisory Board during the visit. The meeting would discuss routes for connecting Ramayana-related sites in Nepal and Sri Lanka with the proposed museum. 

The Union Minister would also deliberate on plans for an International Ramayana Conclave, which would be held either in Ayodhya or Chitrakoot district. The conference is likely to be attended by delegates from about 12 countries, sources said.
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