New Delhi: In a move seen as an attempt to woo pro-Hindutva elements ahead of Assembly Election in Uttar Pradesh, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma will on Tuesday visit Ayodhya to inspect the proposed site for setting up a Ramayana Museum.
In a bid to douse a controversy, Sharma had on Monday said that the construction of Ram Mandir has nothing to do with the forthcoming state elections.
He added that it is a part of the tourism development plans of the Modi government.
"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 had said on Monday.
Sharma had added that 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 had 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.
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".
(With Agency inputs)