LUCKNOW: Taking the row over Taj Mahal to the next level, senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Vinay Katiyar claimed that there used to be a Shiva temple, which was demolished by the Mughal rulers to build the monument.
Katiyar, who spearheaded the Ram temple movement in early 1990s, added that there used to be a temple called Tejo Mahal, which had a Shivalinga exactly on the spot where Taj Mahal stood. “There are adequate signs of it being a Hindu seat. There used to be a Shivalinga with a water stream dripping over it. They removed it and built a mausoleum in its place,” he said.
The controversy was reignited on Monday when Sangeet Som, BJP MLA from Sardhana, called the Taj a “blot on India’s cultural heritage”. Som said it was built by traitors “who wanted to wipe out Hindus”. However, in a retort, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath chose to differ with Som calling the Taj Indian in every way as it had the sweat and blood of the son of this soil. He called it one of the most sought after destinations of the country attracting lakhs of Indian and foreign tourists every year. He even revealed his plan to visit the monument next week.
Former minister and senior SP leader Azam Khan reacted sharply to Katiyar’s comments and averred that the Taj was safe in India as it was the seventh wonder of the world. Otherwise, it would have been demolished the way Babri mosque in Ayodhya was brought down. “In this country, any historical mosque can be reduced to rubble in the name of temple,” said the SP MLA from Rampur.
Earlier this month, an Uttar Pradesh government booklet omitted the Taj Mahal from its list of the state’s historical sites. Meanwhile, UP Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi, too, joined the row on Wednesday by airing her reproval to Som’s controversial statement. Reprimanding the BJP MLA, Joshi said since he was not the part of the UP government, his diatribe was of no consequence. “Government is CM Yogiji. We have drawn an elaborate roadmap for Taj’s beautification,” she said.