Mr Som, who represents Sardhana assembly constituency in the district, reportedly said the iconic Taj Mahal should have no place in the Indian history “as it was built by traitors.” Calling Taj Mahal ‘a blot on the India culture’, Mr Som said, “The man who got the Taj Mahal (Shah Jahan) built, had imprisoned his father. He wanted to wipe out Hindus. If these people are part of our history, then it is very sad and we will change this history.” The BJP legislator, who is known for his communally-charged statements in the past, also targeted Mohammad Ali Jauhar University in Rampur, run by senior SP leader and MLA Mohammad Azam Khan. He expressed the feeling that the university was “a hub for anti-national activities''. Previously, Mr Som had been booked for making inflammatory statements in connection with Muzaffarnagar riots and the Samajwadi Party government had imposed NSA on him.
He was later given a clean chit. The BJP, however, appears to have distanced itself from the controversial remarks. “The BJP MLA has said this in his own capacity. The party has nothing to do with such remarks,” said a senior BJP functionary here. The remarks come just days after the UP tourism booklet was released to mark six months of the Yogi Adityanath government, omitting Taj Mahal, while outlining plans for new attractions, including a tour of monuments and locations central to the Ramayana. It also included existing tourist destinations like the Gorakshnath temple in Gorakhpur, of which Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the main priest. Mr Adityanath, too, had said the monument “had no connection with India’s culture or heritage.” Opposition parties, meanwhile, condemned Mr Som’s remarks. “BJP is preaching hatred. History can’t be changed. We must learn from history, both good and bad.
These comments are by people who are stuck in history and have a narrow mindset,” said Samajwadi Party chief spokesperson, Rajendra Choudhury, said here today. UP Congress spokesperson Amarnath Agarwal, too, criticised the BJP for trying to change the history. “Taj Mahal is a prominent tourist destination and such remarks by the BJP were just a move to prevent tourists from going to Agra,” he said. Former chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had earlier defended the monument and said that it continues to be “an architectural marvel and a much-visited monument that generates employment for a large number of people.” (UNI)