New Delhi: Adding fuel to the raging controversy surrounding the Taj Mahal, BJP MLA Sangeet Som said on Sunday, October 15, that the monument was built by “traitors” who “wanted to wipe out Hindus from Hindustan” and is a “blot on Indian culture.”
According to Hindustan Times, the comments by Som, a MLA from Sardhana in western Uttar Pradesh, who was addressing a gathering in Meerut, came after the monument was excluded from a Uttar Pradesh tourism booklet earlier this month and did not receive funding in the state budget.
The booklet was released to mark six months of the Adityanath government.
“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.
BJP's Sangeet Som says,'Many were sad when Taj Mahal was removed from historical places.What history? Its creator wanted to wipe out Hindus' pic.twitter.com/5OcpJwC4d7
— ANI (@ANI) October 16, 2017
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.
“UP government is trying to bring back the history of Lord Ram, Shivaji,” he said.
He also said that now the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya and Krishna Mandir in Mathura cannot be stopped by anyone.
While a senior BJP leader Nalin Kohli dismissed Som’s comments saying that “Taj Mahal is an important part of our history,” there is a plethora of support for the MLA’s controversial views within the party – including from state CM Adityanath, who in June said that the marble mausoleum didn’t represent “Indian culture”.
“Foreign dignitaries visiting the country used to be gifted replicas of the Taj Mahal and other minarets which do not reflect Indian culture,” the UP chief minister had said at a public meeting in Bihar. The Narendra Modi-led central government, according to Adityanath, thus began giving copies of the Bhagvad Gita and the Ramayan instead, HuffPost reported.
According to a Scroll.in report, Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, the state minister in charge of religious affairs and culture had said, “The Taj Mahal was not a symbol of any religion and is nobody’s,” and had thus been “rightly kept out [of the tourism booklet].”
Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was among the several who took to Twitter to slam Som’s remarks.
No more Red Fort speeches on 15th August? “The PM will address the nation from Nehru Stadium” will fill some hearts with unabashed glee. https://t.co/TOx6vIO1nx
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 16, 2017
"Traitors"also build Red Fort will MODI stop hoisting Tiranga ?Can MODI & YOGI tell domestic & foreign tourist not to visit TAJ MAHAL? https://t.co/3dyDsv7b4e
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) October 16, 2017
While the state tourism minister Reeta Bahuguna Joshi, in an attempt to do damage control, said that the monument was “part of our cultural heritage” and a “major tourist spot,” BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao defended of Som and said that Taj Mahal “is a symbol of barbarism.”:
“There have been attempts to distort Indian history. It is a symbol of barbarism and it is a monument. I will say what I have to say. As far as Som is concerned, he has the freedom of speech. That is his personal view and there need not be a party line on every statement.”
(With PTI inputs)