New Delhi: BJP MP Vinay Katiyar on Monday became the third leader from the ruling party to question the national significance of India’s iconic Taj Mahal, saying that the 17th century Mughal-era monument will be converted into ‘Tej Mandir’ soon.
Talking to the news agency ANI about the ‘Taj Mahostav’ being held in Agra, the MP said, “Call it Taj Mahotsav or Tej Mahotsav both are the same things. There is not much difference between Taj and Tej. Our Tej Mandir has been turned into a cremation ground by Aurangzeb. Taj Mahal will be converted into Tej Mandir soon.”
“It is a good thing that a festival is being organised but this Taj Mahal is not the one that existed during the time of Aurangzeb. It was our temple,” he added.
In fact, the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan, and not his son, Aurangzeb.
Katiyar, who spearheaded the Ayodhya Ram Mandir movement in the 1980s and earl 1990s and is currently facing a criminal trial for his role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, had in October 2017 claimed that the Taj Mahal was actually a Shiv temple. “The Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple. There are all the signs there of (Hindu) gods and goddesses, There used to be a Shivaling there which had water dripping on it from up top. That ling was removed and a mausoleum built there,” he had said.
The Taj Mahal, listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, was also excluded from Adityanath government’s booklet promoting tourism in the state last year. Justifying the decision to remove the monument, BJP MLA Sangeet Som claimed that it was built by “traitors” who wanted to wipe out Hinus.
“Many people were disappointed when Taj Mahal was removed from Indian history. What history are you talking about? The creator of the Taj Mahal imprisoned his own father. He wanted to wipe out Hindus from Hindustan,” Som said. Adding that it was “unfortunate” that the country’s history has “such people,” the MLA said that the Adityanath-led UP government was attempting to bring history back on the right track.
“The UP government is trying to bring back the history of Lord Ram, Shivaji,” he said.
Chief minister Adityanath, who had earlier claimed that gifting miniature replicas of the Taj to foreign dignitaries was inappropriate because they are not representative of Indian heritage, later was forced to visit the monument to clear the air.
Speaking to reporters, Adityanath said: “There is no need for us to go into the depth of why the Taj Mahal was built, who built [commissioned] it and for what purpose… What’s important is that Taj Mahal was built from the blood and sweat of Indian labourers and that of the sons of Bharat Mata.”
(With inputs from agencies)