With Ayodhya looking set to occupy centrestage in the Uttar Pradesh elections next year, Union Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday checked two sites for a proposed Ramayan museum in the temple town. “The beginning has been made and we have got the directives from Ram Lala,” he said.
While he was silent on the Ram temple issue, despite prodding by Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chairman Nritya Gopal Das who raised the demand for construction of Ram temple on priority, Sharma said, “Mann ban chuka hai, mahaul ban chuka hai (we have made up our mind, a conducive atmosphere has also been created)…. We are the Lord’s children, and so have to do his work of spreading education.”
Sharma offered prayers at the makeshift Ram temple and met Nritya Gopal Das before visiting the two proposed museum sites, of which the Tourism Department will select one.
Das said, “There is a government of Ram Bhakts at the Centre. They have focused on Ayodhya, and have thus sent Sharma here.” Sharma did not comment on the statement.
The proposed museum will showcase the life of Ram and the epic Ramayan through videos and laser shows, it was informed.
Reiterating the Centre’s decision to set up the museum soon, Sharma maintained that there should not be any politics behind the project.
Addressing a gathering of BJP and VHP workers and sants at Karsevakpuram later, Sharma said, “Hum rajneeti mein Ram ko nahin lana chahte (we do not want to get Ram in politics).”
About the Akhilesh Yadav government’s decision to develop a theme park under the International Ramleela Centre project, the minister said that the UP chief minister has finally got “sadbuddhi (good sense)” and is taking Ram’s name with only a couple of months left for the elections.
Following a meeting with district administration officials, Sharma visited a 13-acre site near International Ram Katha Sangrahalya for the proposed museum project. He later inspected another 28-acre plot near the national highway, which is around 7 km from the city. He said a committee of experts will examine both sites and decide on the suitable place to set up the Ramayan museum.
He said the the Centre allocated Rs 85 crore for the project and work will start once the site is finalised. Asked about his visit so close to the Assembly polls, Sharma said the project was announced a year ago and fund was sanctioned two months ago.