NEW DELHI - The Taj Mahal was built by someone who wanted to wipe out Hindus, controversial BJP MLA Sangeet Som has said, adding to a raging row over the iconic monument that draws crores of rupees in annual revenue, reported Hindustan Times.
Som, the MLA from Sardhana in western Uttar Pradesh, was speaking at a gathering in Meerut on Sunday. His remarks come days after the Taj Mahal, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, wasn’t mentioned in a Uttar Pradesh tourism booklet and received no fresh funds in the state budget.
“Many people were disappointed when Taj Mahal was removed from Indian history. What history are you talking about? The creator of the Taj Mahal (Mughal emperor Shah Jahan) imprisoned his own father. He wanted to wipe out Hindus from Hindustan,” Som is heard as telling a crowd in videos.
“It’s unfortunate if we have such people in our history. I can guarantee that history will be changed,” he added. “Uttar Pradesh government is trying to bring the history back on the right track. UP govt is trying to bring back the history of Lord Ram, Shivaji.”
The Taj Mahal is India’s top tourism destination but has received a barrage of negative comments from top BJP leaders, including chief minister Yogi Adityanath – who in June said the ivory-white marble mausoleum didn’t represent “Indian culture”. The 17th century structure has also seen a steady decline in footfall in recent years and is battling mounting pollution.
This is not the first time the firebrand MLA has courted controversy for his provocative statements. He was earlier accused of making inflammatory remarks during the 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots but was recently cleared of all charges by a special investigation team. In the run up to the state elections earlier this year, he was also charged with instigating communal hatred after his supporters screened a documentary that allegedly polarised voters.
His recent comments have attracted strong reactions from social media users.