Having came under fire for questioning Taj Mahal’s place in history, BJP MLA Sangeet Som on Monday sought to distance himself from the controversy, saying that he was not averse to the 17th century architectural marvel. “I don’t oppose Taj Mahal. It’s a beautiful heritage. I oppose Mughals who built it and how they have been portrayed in history,” Som was quoted as saying by ANI.
On Sunday, the BJP legislator from Sardhana sparked fresh controversy after terming Mughal emperors Babur, Akbar and Aurangzeb as “traitors”. He also said their names would be erased from the pages of history. Som further distorted historical facts, saying that Taj Mahal was built by an emperor who had imprisoned his father and targeted Hindus.
However, it was Aurangzeb who imprisoned his father and Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, till the end of his days.
“Many people were pained to see that the Taj Mahal was removed from the list of places (tourist destinations). What type of history?,” Som asked while addressing a gathering in Meerut. “Is this history that the person who built the Taj Mahal imprisoned his father? Do you call it history when the one who built the Taj targeted many Hindus in Uttar Pradesh and Hindustan?”
Interestingly, his comments come after the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government reportedly left out the Taj Mahal from an official tourism booklet.
Alleging that invaders of India have been glorified in history, Som said the lives and achievements of the “real great men” of the country like Maharana Pratap and Shivaji would be taught in schools and colleges. He also said many Hindu kings do not find mention in history books and, therefore, the BJP government would make sure their valour and sacrifice is given due respect.
Soon after the controversy, the state government issued a press release saying, “Tourism projects worth Rs 370 crore are proposed, under which schemes worth Rs 156 crore are meant for the Taj Mahal and its surrounding areas in Agra.”
This is not the first time that Som has created controversy. He is known for making provocative statements and actions on issues such as the Dadri lynching and the Muzaffarnagar riots.
Will govt now tell tourists not to visit Taj Mahal, asks Owaisi
Reacting strongly to Som’s comments, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi asked if the state government would tell tourists not to visit the monument. “Traitors” also build Red Fort will Modi stop hoisting Tiranga? Can Modi and Yogi tell domestic and foreign tourist not to visit Taj Mahal?,” Owaisi tweeted.
The AIMIM leader also took potshots at the Centre, saying that Hyderabad House in Delhi, the venue for the Centre hosting foreign dignitaries, was constructed by “traitor”. Hyderabad House was constructed by Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam, on a land offered by the British.
Mamata censures BJP MLA’s comment on Taj Mahal, says BJP practising ‘autocracy’
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rebuked Som’s comments questioning the Taj Mahal’s place in India’s heritage and also accused the BJP of making “divisive statements” with a “political agenda”. She also alleged that the saffron party would try to change the country’s name to rewrite history.
“The less we speak about BJP leaders the better. I feel ashamed to speak on the comments made by them. They are not doing any development work. They are only making such divisive statements with a political agenda. We don’t believe in dividing people like this,” Mamata said.
“What the BJP is practising is not democracy but autocracy. The day is not far away when BJP will try to change the name of this country in order to rewrite history,” she added.
With PTI inputs