Ram temple issue bounces back in poll-bound UP, 'not BJP's political agenda' says Mahesh Sharma

Ayodhya: Despite assertions that "Ramayana museum" being planned for the communally-sensitive town of Ayodhya "is not the political agenda" of BJP, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday said fortunate are those who get a chance to do "Ram ka kaam" (serve Ram).

"If anyone gets a chance to work for Bhagwan Ram he is most fortunate... it will be good fortune if Bhagwan Ram gives us a chance to do 'Ram ka kaam' and this responsibility has been given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the people of the country," he said during his Ayodhya visit to inspect the proposed site for setting up a Ramayana museum.

Referring to the ideals propagated in Ramayana, Sharma said that in certain areas the hands of the Centre were tied.

Union Minister Mahesh Sharma. PTI

Union Minister Mahesh Sharma. PTI

"All proposals of development which have to be passed by the Centre have to come from states... sometimes our hands are also tied... this problem will also be taken care of soon.

"Mann ban chuka hai, mahaul ban chuka hai, the beginning has been made and we have got the directives from Ram Lala," he said, adding, "We are the Lord's children and so have to do his work of spreading education."

Sharma, Union Tourism Minister, said Ayodhya's development will get a big push from the Rs 150 crore allotted for developing a museum, which is to be located 15 km from the site where the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, triggering deadly communal riots across the country.

Right-wing organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Prashad say a temple must be built where the mosque once stood because that is the exact spot where Lord Ram was born.

While campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stressed on the development and economic growth, and his government has avoided giving hardliners within the party licence to talk of constructing a new temple. The sprawling Ramayana museum, which will present the

The sprawling Ramayana museum, which will present the life of the deity as portrayed in sage Valmiki's epic, will be spread across 25 acres.

Sharma said he expected the museum to bring in a rush of tourists because it will be linked to other places on the "Ram circuit" - sites of great significance in the Ramayana, including some in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had said the disputed site should be split equally between Muslims, Hindus and the large and wealthy Nirmohi Akhara sect. The verdict has been challenged in the Supreme Court by Hindu and Muslim organisations.

BJP has been accused by its political opponents of attempting a "dangerous strategy to communalise voters" and risk the fragile peace in Ayodhya.

Sharma, however, said the Akhilesh Yadav government has announced its own plans to develop what it described as an international theme park in Ayodhya.

"Why should the same charge not be levelled against them?" the minister asked.

BSP chief Mayawati has accused BJP of announcing the project purely for political gain in the forthcoming UP polls.

"Any such project should have started much before if they had the right intentions," Mayawati said, adding that the announcements were driven by BJP and SP's "religion-based politics".

She said the proposed projects must not be allowed to affect the disputed site in Ayodhya as the issue was pending before the court.

Senior Congress leader RPN Singh has said the development came as no surprise. "Every five years we see the same drama unfolding. Whenever there are polls in the state, they talk of Ram, Ram temple, Ram Sangrahalaya. They repeatedly raise these issues," he has said.

Union minister Uma Bharti asked BJP's opponents to refrain from political overtures. "Ram is a subject of faith for millions...opposition should be equally respectful to the revered deity," she said.

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Updated Date: Oct 18, 2016 19:06:49 IST

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