Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath arrived in Agra on Thursday morning, and was seen participating in a “cleanliness drive” at the Western Gate of the Taj Mahal, ANI reported. He is expected to spend half an hour at the monument, visit the Shah Jahan Park and lay the foundation stone for a tourist pathway from the Taj Mahal to the Agra Fort.
Earlier this month, he had announced a Rs 370-crore development package for the city.
He had said he would visit the monument, in a move that was 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 on October 17, “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 also 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 came days after the Uttar Pradesh government was criticised for leaving out the 17th-century monument from the state’s official tourism booklet.
Later, another Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinay Katiyar claimed that Mughal ruler Shah Jahan had destroyed a Hindu temple “Tejo Mahalaya” to build the Taj Mahal.
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.