Amid all the controversy over India’s most famous heritage structure Taj Mahal, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday paid a visit to the 17th century monument in Agra.
With an intention to put an end to the ongoing debate over it, the chief minister also said that there wasn’t any need to discuss who built Taj. He reiterated his earlier statement and said that the monument was built by the blood and sweat of Indians and needs to be taken care of.
It was Adityanath’s first visit to the monument after he became the chief minister of the state.
A look at his official Twitter handle will show how he had a great time:
He announced the construction of a rubber bridge on the banks of Yamuna:
#UPCM श्री #YogiAdityanth ने यमुना नदी पर ताजमहल के डाउनस्ट्रीम में नगला पैमा गांव के निकट रबर बैराज के निर्माण की घोषणा की। pic.twitter.com/0klNTiTYqT— CM Office, GoUP (@CMOfficeUP) October 26, 2017
It was followed by a cleanliness drive at the western gate of Taj:
#UPCM श्री #YogiAdityanath ने ताज महल पश्चिमी गेट पर स्वच्छता अभियान कार्यक्रम में हिस्सा लिया। pic.twitter.com/J4jrDHWTYV— CM Office, GoUP (@CMOfficeUP) October 26, 2017
He laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of Shah Jahan park:
शाहजहां पार्क के पुनर्जीविकरण व आगरा किला- ताज महल के मध्य पैदल पथ के विकास योजना का शिलान्यास किया। 2/2 pic.twitter.com/mTAU102DJE— CM Office, GoUP (@CMOfficeUP) October 26, 2017
He got himself photographed with a lot of Indian as well as foreign tourists:
ताज महल देखने आए देशी- विदेशी पर्यटकों के साथ #UPCM श्री #YogiAdityanath pic.twitter.com/OCpdbQ0HKF— CM Office, GoUP (@CMOfficeUP) October 26, 2017
He went inside the Taj premises
#UPCM श्री #YogiAdityanath ने ताज महल के अंदर भ्रमण किया। pic.twitter.com/IO0k3GFPEM— CM Office, GoUP (@CMOfficeUP) October 26, 2017
And the most important, he announced a development package of Rs 235 crore to the city of Agra which he aims to turn into a ‘world class heritage city’:
#UPCM श्री #YogiAdityanath ने आगरा में 235 करोड़ रुपये की लागत की योजनाओं का शिलान्यास और लोकार्पण किया। pic.twitter.com/lzqjy2yczT— CM Office, GoUP (@CMOfficeUP) October 26, 2017
Yogi Adityanath’s newfound love for the Taj is surprising since he hasn’t exactly been an ardent admirer of the monument. From calling it part of a Shiva temple to repeatedly calling it ‘un-Indian’, Adityanath has been a vocal critic.
Recently, there was also a controversy over the exclusion of Taj Mahal from Uttar Pradesh’s tourist booklet. Even though the government clarified that it wasn’t an official list, BJP MLA Sangeet Som justified the exclusion saying that Taj Mahal is a ‘blot on Indian culture’.
Sangeet Som’s statements were criticised from all quarters and including top BJP leaders who openly endorsed the importance of Taj Mahal in India’s historical legacy. Even Yogi Adityanath for the first time said in favour of the monument and said that ‘it was built by the blood and sweat of Indian labourers’.
Call it a damage control measure to silence critics or a genuine initiative to boost the state’s tourism revenues, Yogi Adityanath’s Taj Mahal visit certainly looks forward towards something very important.