Minister Says It Is Right To Drop Taj Mahal From UP Tourism Booklet
After the row regarding keeping Taj Mahal outside the list of tourism booklet in Uttar Pradesh, a cabinet minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, the minister in charge of religious affairs and culture, claimed that the decision was rightfully taken and that it should instead be replaced with the Guru Gorakhnath peeth, reported The Times of India.
The minister clarified that the present UP government was “rashtravadi (nationalist)” and runs on “dharma niti (religious policy)”.
In an event organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in Hathras, Chaudhary reportedly said, “Taj Mahal is not the symbol of any religion and (it is) nobody’s. It does not represent any religion.”
The 32-page booklet titled “Uttar Pradesh Tourism: Its High Potential“, that was released by Rita Bahuguna Joshi, state tourism minister enlists some Hindu and Buddhist religious places, but leaves out the Taj which is also part of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site.
The booklet bears a photograph of the famous Ganga aarti in Varanasi, speaks about work was done and development projects for Varanasi, Mathura, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur, Devipatan, Naimisharanya, Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Kushinagar, Bundelkhand, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Sohail Hashmi, writer and a heritage expert, said that the current government is playing politics over the Taj and favouring only those manifestations of culture that suit their idea of the same.
“They have divided our heritage into Hindu heritage and Islamic heritage,” Hashmi added.
The response of the government
After the opposition has been claiming that the Yogi government as “communal”, the state tourism ministry issued a press release detailing a slew of projects it had initiated for the Taj Mahal and surrounding areas.
Bahuguna Joshi, asserting there was no attempt to ignore Taj Mahal as a tourist destination, said, “How can anyone in the tourism sector ignore the Taj Mahal, one of the big tourist attractions in the country?”
The stunning white marble mausoleum was built in the 17th century by Mughal King Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal in Agra, about 200km from the Indian capital, New Delhi. It is a famous heritage site that is known worldwide.
It is needless to say that the comment of the Culture Minister is atrocious and paints an entirely wrong picture about the country. Taj Mahal is one of the biggest revenue earners for the state as well as the country. To openly associate a heritage site with religion is uncalled for. Cultural heritage sites should be preserved and celebrated, and any divisive politics regarding this is unacceptable. The Logical Indian community condemns the comment made by the UP Minister which can only fan communal disharmony.