A regular tweet from the official account of Kerala Tourism gets close to 100 retweets and favourited by a few hundred users. But on Wednesday, its tweet paying homage to the world-famous Taj Mahal, seen by many as trolling the Uttar Pradesh government over its stance on the marble wonder, swept close to 1,500 RTs and more than 3,000 likes.
The tweet from Kerala Tourism read, “God’s Own Country salutes the #TajMahal for inspiring millions to discover India. #incredibleindia”
The tweet evoked reactions ranging from “BJP – take a hike! You can never defile the Taj Mahal” to “This is knockout Punch by Kerla Tourism to those who claims Taj was temple.”
Before the 17th-century architectural masterpiece found mention in the 2018 calendar brought out by the BJP-led UP government, the Taj Mahal’s history and precedents were questioned by Sangeet Som, the BJP MLA from Sardhana, UP. At a public gathering, the BJP MLA had said the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, was a ‘blot on Indian culture.’
The grand monument for which millions of foreign tourists make their way to Agra every year was allegedly earlier omitted from an official tourism booklet of the state government before it found place in the official calendar. Akhilesh Yadav, the state’s former chief minister and the head of the Samajwadi Party, purportedly mocking the BJP asked in a tweet, “How can people spreading hate understand the symbol of love?”
Officials handling the social media accounts of Kerala’s tourism department however said the tweet had no connection whatsoever to the controversy surrounding the Taj Mahal.
State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran also tweeted, “As an Indian, I am proud of our rich heritage & #TajMahal symbolises it. Kerala salutes Taj Mahal which inspire millions!” which was promptly retweeted by the tourism department’s account fuelling further speculation that the CPM, which rules Kerala, is simply poking fun at the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
A tourism official told IndianExpress.com that a government-nominated agency handles digital marketing for the department and that all posts are approved on a monthly basis. The Twitter account, that has 1.27 million followers on last count, usually shares information and photos about backwaters, hill-stations, beaches, cuisines and historical monuments of the state. It rarely tweets about tourist hotspots from other states.
Pinarayi Vijayan, the Kerala Chief Minister, and Yogi Adityanath, the UP CM, had locked horns this month when the latter came down south for the BJP’s Jan Raksha Yatra. The mahant-CM had criticised Kerala’s health indicators and its handling of people afflicted with dengue.
“It really amuses me that you found time for Kerala, despite the fact the large number of problems exists in UP (as per news paper reports),” Vijayan had then tweeted.
He followed it up with this: “Yogi ji while you go back to your state, THE ENTIRE KERALA IS UPSET & wants to ask you ? #YEHKYAHAIYOGI Removing #TajMahal from tourist map.”