This Article is From Oct 18, 2016

In Museum vs Ayodhya Theme Park, Centre's Move Called Out By BJP's Own

The centre had promised a Ramayana museum while the UP government has promised a theme park in Ayodhya.


  • Central government plans Ramayana museum in Ayodhya
  • Uttar Pradesh votes soon, Ayodhya is communally-sensitive
  • Babri Masjid razed in 1992 by right-wing volunteers who want Ram temple
New Delhi: Announcing that "Lord Ram is an integral part of Indian life," Union Minister Mahesh Sharma told NDTV today that a "Ramayana museum" being planned for the communally-sensitive town of Ayodhya "is not the political agenda" of the BJP ahead of elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr Sharma, who is Tourism Minister, said that Ayodhya's development will get a big push from the 150 crores allotted to developing the museum. The state government has allotted it a plot 15 km from the site where the Babri Masjid was torn down in 1992, triggering deadly communal riots across the country.

Right-wing organizations 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 election he swept in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed development and economic growth, and his government has avoided giving hard-liners within the party license to talk of constructing a new temple. They are making themselves heard now. "A lollipop won't do," said Vinay Katiyar. "People want a Ram Mandir (temple)," said the Rajya Sabha MP.

The sprawling Ramayana museum, which will present the life of the deity as portrayed in the sage Valmiki's epic, will cover 25 acres. Mr Sharma says it will 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 in 2010 said the disputed site should be split equally between Muslims, Hindus and the large and wealthy Nirmohi Akhara sect -that verdict has been challenged in the Supreme Court by Hindu and Muslim organizations.

The BJP has been accused by political opponents of attempting a dangerous strategy to communalize voters and risk the fragile peace in Ayodhya.  But Mr Sharma pointed out today that the state government of Akhilesh Yadav has announced its own plans to develop what it described as an international theme park in Ayodhya. "Our plans were announced a year ago. The state government should respond why they announced theirs just two months before the elections," he said.