Lucknow/Agra: In a clear effort to set at rest all controversies over the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh chief minister on Thursday swept the road outside the Taj and went inside the Mughalera monument, considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and described it as a “gem of India” and an integral part of Indian culture.
The much publicised visit, the first by a BJP chief minister of UP, comes days after the party’s leaders and ministers made provocative statements against the famed symbol of love. The chief minister said it was important to not focus on why the Taj Mahal was built or how it was built, but to remember that the blood of Indian labourers had contributed to its construction.
The CM was in Agra on Thursday and spent around 45 minutes at the Taj. He entered from the west gate and exited from the east gate, going straight for a presentation by the Archaeological Survey of India. Several of his ministerial colleagues, including state tourism minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi, accompanied him.
The chief minister launched a cleanliness drive near the west gate of the Taj, where he was greeted with chants of Vande Mataram.
He said his government was committed to the conservation of the 17th century monument. The media was not allowed to go inside the Taj during the CM’s visit.
Later, speaking at an event in Agra, he said the security of tourists would be ensured and those responsible for the attack on a Swiss couple at Fatehpur Sikri a few days ago would be severely punished.
The CM said, “We should not delve deeper into the details of why, when and how the Taj Mahal was built. What is important is that it was built by the wealth and hard work of India’s farmers and labourers,” he said at a rally in Agra.
“The Taj Mahal is India's gem and a gift to the world. It attracts lakhs of tourists. It gives Agra recognition and creates employment opportunities,” he added.
This was a significant departure from his remarks at a rally in Bihar last year, when he had said it does not represent Indian culture and that foreign dignitaries should be presented with the Gita rather than Taj Mahal replicas.
Unprecedented security arrangements were made in Agra for the CM's eight-hour visit. Over 14,000 policemen were deployed across the city and four helipads set up in various parts of the city for his helicopter to land.