Indians Built Taj, Nothing Else Matters, Says Yogi Adityanath: 10 Facts

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's visit to the Taj Mahal was announced last week in the middle of an acrimonious back-and-forth over the monument between BJP leaders and the opposition.

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Yogi Adityanath will be the first Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister from the BJP to visit the Taj Mahal

Agra:  AGRA: Yogi Adityanath picked up the broom today as he arrived at the spectacular Taj Mahal in Agra amid a series of controversial statements by some leaders and ministers from his party, the BJP, against the 17th-century monument including denouncing it as "a blot on Indian culture". At a public meeting later, the 45-year-old Chief Minister, referring to the many statements around Taj and his Agra visit, said there was no need to go into who built Taj and why. "More important is that it was built by the blood and sweat of Indians," he said.
Here are the latest developments:
  1. No BJP Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has ever visited the Taj, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his love for his queen, Mumtaz Mahal.
  2. Before he walked into the Taj complex where he spent 30 minutes, he swept a small area outside the Taj, wearing gloves and a baseball hat as part of a cleanliness campaign.
  3. After being made Chief Minister, he had skipped the Taj Mahal when he visited Agra in May. In June, he said that miniature replicas of the Taj, offered often as gifts to foreign dignitaries, were inappropriate offerings because they are not representative of Indian heritage.
  4. After the Taj did not feature in a document released by the UP government to highlight top tourist spots in the state, BJP leaders went on a verbal rampage against the Taj, with Sangeet Som, a lawmaker from the state, alleging it was built by "traitors" who wanted to eliminate all Hindus.
  5. As the controversy surged, the Yogi, who is a priest from eastern Uttar Pradesh, told reporters it had been built with "the sweat and blood" of Indians and  and his visit to the monument was promptly scheduled.
  6. The opposition has described the commentary of the BJP leaders against the Taj, one of the seven wonders of the world, as designed to divide Hindus and Muslims in the country's most-populous state.
  7. About four helipads have been readied across Agra for use by the Chief Minister's helicopter today.
  8. The Chief Minister, who also addressed a public meeting later, spoke about the state's development plan for the city including a dam to tide over Agra's water shortage and the proposed international airport at Agra.
  9. Yogi Adityanath also took a swipe at his political rivals for only treated Agra as a picnic spot. But they did little for the city, he said, promising to change this approach.
  10. The row has worried thousands in Agra who depend on tourist arrivals to the western Uttar Pradesh city, a few hours away from the national capital. According to government statistics, every fourth foreign visitor to the country visits the Taj but there has been a decline in the number foreign tourists to the white marble mausoleum widely considered one of the world's seven wonders.




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Highlights

1
Yogi Adityanath had skipped the Taj Mahal when he visited Agra in May
2
Taj Mahal was not listed in Uttar Pradesh tourism brochure
3
It "does not reflect Indian culture," Yogi Adityanath had earlier said

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