Free Press Journal

BJP ties itself in knots on the Taj


tourism minister, KJ Alphons, Taj on lease controversy, taj mahal, taj, agra, adopt-a-heritage scheme

The manner in which the Taj Mahal controversy has been raked up first by its shocking exclusion from the U.P. tourism department’s list of famous monuments and then by a firebrand BJP legislator Sangeet Som calling it “a blot” on Indian culture and history smacks of the BJP’s tendency to hit self-goals. Needlessly, a new controversy has been fuelled with the Opposition and the sensationalist media vying with one another to create a frenzy.

The 17th century architectural marvel is admired the world over and is a mind-boggling symbol of Indian history that attracts droves of tourists year after year. There could not have been a more ridiculous way to damage the country than this myopic move and the attendant negative publicity. Does it matter that it was a Mughal ruler who built the Taj and that it was built during a period of Indian subjugation? What is important is its breathtaking beauty and the fact that it is held the world over as a monument of love. Loose statements by BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders and their crass projection in the media have wrecked the spirit of co-existence between the communities and jeopardized peace.

That there are lumpen elements in the BJP is undeniable but the Narendra Modi government has been behaving responsibly by and large. It has committed itself to a constructive, developmental agenda and has given the country a clean administration. Its fault, however, lies in its delayed response time and again to irresponsible and outrageous statements by those who belong to its tribe. This gives the impression that it acquiesces in outlandish statements. Only when the statements take the shape of a serious controversy that the BJP top brass wakes up to the need to douse the flames.

Much after Sangeet Som stirred a huge controversy as he questioned the Taj Mahal’s place in India’s heritage and said history would be rewritten to erase Mughal emperors from it, U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the famed monument in Agra was a part of Indian heritage. ” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an apparent reference to the incident, said that “no country can move ahead without (taking) pride in its heritage.” This was an apparent snub to Som but Modi did not reprimand his legislator openly by name.

As if by cue, Yogi Adityanath said the Taj was made by the sweat and blood of Bharat Mata’s sons. ….it’s a historical monument and its protection and further development for tourism is the responsibility of the government. The Chief Minister said Som’s views on the Taj Mahal were personal, and the state government did not endorse them. Had Yogi made this statement on the day Som railed against Taj Mahal, it would have had a positive impact but his rejoinder came too late as has been happening in all such cases.