NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: The Union Culture Ministry’s efforts to set up a Ram Museum in Ayodhya seems to have brought back the focus on the Ram temple issue in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Two days after ET reported the state government had allotted land for the museum speeding up its work, Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati accused the BJP and SP of linking religion to politics and objected to the timing of the decision while Congress criticised the BJP for ‘remembering’ Lord Rama at the ‘time of elections.’
The criticism came even as BJP leaders demanded the construction of a Ram temple. Union Ministers Uma Bharati and Vinay Katiyar pitched for construction of the Ram temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya, with the latter demanding that a legislation be tabled in the Lok Sabha for the purpose, since the BJP-led NDA had a “massive majority.”
The remarks came on a day when the UP government approved the setting up of a world class Ramleela theme park to be built in the International Ramleela Centre aimed at boosting tourism in the city.
The state Cabinet on Monday approved the project and sanctioned high quality material, including red sandstone, for the project.
Tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, who has been actively pursuing the project, denied setting up of the museum had to do anything with approaching UP elections.
The ministry has sanctioned `225 crore for the Ramayan circuit of which the museum will be a part. The 25-acre plot for the museum in Ayodhya will be 15 km from the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed site. Sharma is slated to visit Ayodhya on Tuesday to inspect the museum site.
In a press release issued on Monday evening, Mayawati said that such decisions would be confined to papers as there was no proper budgetary provisions.
Mayawati said that although the idea of developing Ayodhya into a tourist spot was good, “the intention of both the governments — the Centre and the state — was suspect as work on these projects had not started earlier.”
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said in New Delhi: “Whenever elections are near, BJP rakes up the Ram Mandir issue… BJP is a party that has the least devotion towards Ram. They remember Lord Ram only when elections are scheduled to take place anywhere across the country.”