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Ramanand Bansal | HENB | Ayodhya | Oct 18, 2016:: Even as the ruling BJP in the Center faces opposition criticism for announcing a huge Ramayana museum in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, its own Rajya Sabha parliamentarian Vinay Katiyar today called the museum a mere “lollipop”, ANI reported.
“We should be trying to build a Ram temple, Hindus won’t be happy with this lollipop,” Katiyar said, referring to the museum, which is set to come up about 15km from the disputed Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi site.
“Wherever I go in Ayodhya, Hindu saints and seers ask me when will Ram Mandir be built, good I did not go today,” Katiyar added. He was referring to the scheduled visit today of Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma to the site of the proposed Ramayana museum near Ayodhya.
On this issue, Katiyar also has the support of Dr Subramanian Swamy, another BJP MP who’s raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha earlier this year. He said some months ago that both sides in the Ram Janmabhoomi temple dispute have said that a court order on the issue would be acceptable to them, and therefore government must agree to a do day-to-day hearing on the issue.
Katiyar was incidentally the face of the die-hard Ram temple movement in Ayodhya in the 1990s. He’s said in the past that the Modi government should “move to resolve” the matter without waiting for a Supreme Court verdict on the disputed site.
Just on Sunday, Swamy said a Ram temple is the key to a win in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh polls. Speaking at a conference in Allahabad, he said no party could ever win an election on the issue of development alone, and that if the BJP succeeded in giving the impression that a Ram temple in Ayodhya would soon be a reality, then it would have a chance of winning the upcoming Assembly polls.
The BJP, however, has insisted that Ram Mandir is not a poll plank for the party. “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,” he said.
Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said the 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.
He said the government has identified three circuits — Ramayana Circuit, Krishna Circuit and Buddhist Circuit — to boost religious tourism.
The state government has identified a 25-acre plot for the museum which is some 15 km away from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex, a source said.
Sharma 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.
Sharma is likely to hold meetings with religious leaders on building the museum which would portray the epic journey of Lord Rama.
Tourism being a state subject, Sharma also sought help from Uttar Pradesh government for development of the circuits to give boost to tourism which, he said, has great potential to earn foreign exchange, employment generation and women empowerment.
Though the BJP has been insisting that Ram temple will not be an electoral plank in the UP elections to be held early next year, the proposed Ramayana museum and related activities are being seen as an attempt to keep pro-Hindutva elements in good humour.
On Dusshera, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in a departure from tradition, participated in the festivities in Lucknow where he started and concluded his speech with chants of “Jai Shri Ram, Jai Jai Shri Ram”.
Nurturing the Hindu Politics in Uttar Pradesh, whether it is in Ram Temple or Ramayana Museum, BJP wants to consolidate its Hindu vote bank eying to coming assembly election in the state.