As Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma’s visit to Ayodhya on Tuesday turned into a political slugfest, he sought to downplay his visit to the holy city saying his key priority is to promote tourism and development of the area.
“I have come here to explore the prospects of developing the area, creating more employment opportunities for youths and promoting the city as a key tourism centre,'' he said after arriving in Ayodhya on Tuesday.
When asked about his visit to the disputed Ram Temple site, Sharma said, ''I will meet everyone including the saints, listen to their suggestions and then proceed to inspect a site for construction of a Ramayana museum dedicated to Lord Ram.''
He however confirmed that he would also visit the makeshift temple at the disputed site later.
"My visit to Ayodhya has nothing to do with UP Assembly Elections. I am visiting Ayodhya 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 govt's developmental agenda," he had said earlier.
Meanwhile, Sangh leader and Bajrang Dal national president Vinay Katiyar on Tuesday said that Hindus want a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Katiyar also termed the construction of a Ramayana museum as a mere ‘lollipop’. “Wherever I go, saints ask me when will the construction of Ram Temple start,” he said.
Katiyar said that the Ramayana museum is only an effort by the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh to divert attention from main issues.
“What is the point in making two museums - one by Samajwadi Party government and the other by Centre – in the name of Ram Lalla,” he asked.
"Why only Subramanian Swamy, every devotee of Ram wants the temple to be constructed soon. Until that happens we cannot live in peace. Be it through a bill in Parliament, through dialogue or a court verdict, the government has to find a solution.”
"Of course, we don't have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, but a bill for construction of the temple can be brought in the Lok Sabha where we have a massive majority. The Ram temple was also a part of BJP's election manifesto," he said, adding "no deadline can be set for the government on this issue".( Also Read in Hindi)