UP Cabinet approves Ram Leela theme park after Centre announces Ramayana museum Pictured: Sarayu River Bank, Ayodhya, Faizabad, (U.P.), IndiaWikimedia Commons

A day after the Centre announced a Ramayana museum in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav approved a Ram Leela theme park on the banks of Sarayu river in the region. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati criticised the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for playing politics over religion.

Mayawati questioned their intentions and the timing of the announcements since the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are in the offing. 

The Ram Leela theme park will be built in the International Ram Lila Centre for encouraging tourism in the city. Apart from approving the project on Monday, the Cabinet also gave its nod to using high quality material for the project, like red sandstone. 

"The completion of the project [Ramleela Theme Park] will benefit tourism, generate employment opportunities and promote Indian culture nationally as well as globally," a UP government spokesperson said, according to the Hindu. 

Meanwhile, the Centre is also looking to develop the city with its Ramayana Circuit, a Rs 225 crore project, which also seeks to improve tourism. 

Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma has been actively pursuing the project. He will be visiting the area to inspect the site that was identified for it soon. The 25-acre plot, sanctioned for the project, is reportedly only 15 km from the controversial and disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site.

"If their intentions were clean they would have started the projects much earlier. They must keep in mind that the disputed land in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex not be affected by such constructions as the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court," said Mayawati.

She said that the two parties were competing for "cheap publicity" and there was an "absence of proper budgetary allocation" to execute the projects.

The SP, BSP, and BJP are three of the major parties who will lock horns during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. While the SP has been going through some internal issues in the party, BSP's campaign has not yet made a headstart, the BJP, through its various visits — including Amit Shah's — has been making progress. The Congress Party has also begun its campaign trail.