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Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday inspected 25 acres of land earmarked for a proposed Ramayan museum in Ayodhya and said the project had nothing to do with Ram Mandir politics ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
"My visit here is purely as a Tourism Minister and no politics should be attributed to it," he told the media here.
The Minister denied the opposition contention that the multi-crore museum project was linked to Bharatiya Janata Party's plans to give fresh impetus to the Ram temple movement.
Sharma said while the opposition was blindly pursuing politics on the issue, the BJP was following the path of development.
He said the Union government had proposed to establish a Ramayan Circuit to promote tourism and Rs 225 crore were sanctioned for it, including Rs 151 crore for the museum that is proposed to be built about 15 km from the disputed Ramjanambhoomi site in Ayodhya.
"Lord Rama lives in the hearts of millions across the globe," he said, adding that he was merely doing his duty as Tourism Minister to see what all can be done to promote tourist footfalls in Ayodhya.
"Similarly, we are also promoting the Krishna and Buddha circuits, which are hugely popular with tourists," the minister said.
Opposition parties, including the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, had on Monday accused the central government of remembering Lord Rama for electoral gains only and claimed the museum was a part of a larger conspiracy to communalise the coming assembly polls.
On Monday, the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh decided to construct a Ramleela Theme Park, also in Ayodhya.
BSP chief Mayawati criticised both the central and the state governments and said the decisions were taken only for electoral gains.
"The decision to build a Ramayan Museum and Ramleela Theme Park in Ayodhya by the BJP and the SP respectively just before the assembly elections shows their intentions," the BSP chief said in a statement on Monday.
The Congress said the BJP brings up the Ram Mandir issue whenever elections approach.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)