Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Taj Mahal on Thursday, October 26, becoming the first BJP chief minister to visit the 17th-century Mughal monument. Adityanath also laid the foundation stone for a tourist pathway connecting Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.
Earlier, he took part in a cleanliness drive donning a mask and wielding a broom at the western gate of Taj Mahal. Though there are no restrictions on tourists visiting Taj Mahal, security has been stepped up owing to Adityanath’s visit with 14,000 personnel deployed across Agra.
Agra: UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath takes part in cleanliness drive at the Western Gate of Taj Mahal. pic.twitter.com/g0IzxUlLNG
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) October 26, 2017
The State government was earlier criticised after Taj Mahal was excluded from a tourism promotion brochure. BJP MLA Sangeet Som had defended the state government’s decision to omit the mausoleum saying the monument was a ‘blot on Indian history’ and that it was built by ‘traitors’. BJP MP from Lucknow Vinay Katiyar even claimed that Taj Mahal ‘was known as Tejo Mahal and water used to drip from its ceiling’.
After the controversy, Yogi Adityanath said that Taj Mahal was built with ‘blood and sweat of Indians’ and referred to it as a ‘world-class monument’. This was in contrast to his remarks made in 2016 when he said that the Taj does not represent Indian culture and that visiting foreign dignitaries should be presented with the Gita rather than replicas of Taj Mahal.
The UP government allocated Rs 370 crore for a tourism development scheme in Agra of which Rs 156 crore was kept for development of the Taj Mahal and areas around it.