Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Tuesday said he would visit the Taj Mahal on October 25. The move is being seen as an attempt to do damage control after Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Sangeet Som said the monument was built by traitors and was a “blot on Indian culture”. Adityanath said, “It does not matter who built it and for what reason; it was built by the blood and sweat of Indian labourers.”

The chief minister added that the Taj Mahal was important for the state’s tourism sector. “It is our priority to provide facilities and safety to tourists there,” he said. His comments come days after the Uttar Pradesh government was criticised for leaving out the 17th-century monument from the state’s official tourism booklet.

In June, Adityanath had said the Taj Mahal did not “reflect Indian culture”, and that foreign dignitaries in India were now gifted copies of the Bhagvad Gita instead of replicas of the monument.

Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan too joined the bandwagon to criticise Som’s remarks. He said the Rashtrapati Bhavan and many other such buildings like the Agra Fort, Parliament house and Red Fort should be demolished too as these are signs of slavery. He added that not destroying such a symbol was a sign of political impotency.