After it was left out of the Uttar Pradesh tourism booklet recently, Sangeet Som, a lawmaker of the ruling BJP, has called the world-renowned Taj Mahal a “blot on Indian culture” and a monument built by “traitors”.
“Many people were worried that the Taj Mahal was removed from the list of historical places in the UP tourism booklet. What history are we talking about? The man who built Taj Mahal (Shahjahan) imprisoned his father. He wanted to massacre Hindus. If this is history, then it is very sad and we will change this history,” Som said.
Known for his inflammatory speeches, Som is among the politicians accused of a role in instigating riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013.
Earlier this month, there was outrage after the 17th century marble mausoleum was kept out of a new brochure of Uttar Pradesh government. The brochure was released to mark six months of the BJP government in UP and listed the important tourist destinations in the state. The temple of Gorakhnath at Gorakhpur, which is headed by the Chief Minister, made it to the brochure.
State Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi then clarified: “Taj Mahal is our cultural heritage and occupies a place among the world’s famous tourist places.”
“Holistic development of the cultural heritage and that of infrastructural facilities is the priority of the state government,” she had said.
State minister Sidharth Nath Singh attributed the omission to a “miscommunication”.
In June, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said the monument built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan does not reflect Indian culture.