Lucknow: Former Uttar Pradesh (UP) Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan on Tuesday said Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Parliament, and President House are symbols of slavery.
He was reacting on the reports that the UP government led by Yogi Adityanath has not included Taj Mahal in the government's booklet about tourist spots in the state.
"I welcome this decision and would like to say that the decision is a bit late and incomplete. Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Delhi's Red Fort, Agra Fort, Parliament House, and President House all are symbols of slavery."
The Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department recently released a 32-page booklet titled 'Uttar Pradesh Paryatan - Apaar Sambhavnaayein' (Uttar Pradesh Tourism - Limitless Possibilities), featuring most of the cultural and heritage sites in the state. However, it has no mention of Taj Mahal, one of the seven 'wonders of the world'.
He added sarcastically that if invited he would go along with Yogi Adityanath to demolish Taj Mahal.
"Once there was a talk to demolish Taj Mahal and if Yogi Adityanath decides to demolish Taj Mahal and seeks my support then I would extend it. Since Babri Masjid was home of Allah so we couldn't give it, but Taj Mahal is a cemetery and symbol of slavery," Azam said.
Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Tuesday clarified that historical tourism spot Taj Mahal is indeed in the Uttar Pradesh government booklet.
"This conflict is completely unnecessary, and there should be an end put to it," Joshi told ANI, and added,
"The controversy arose probably because the photo (of Taj Mahal) is missing, otherwise Taj Mahal is mentioned in the booklet."
Joshi emphasized that Taj Mahal remains a significant tourist attraction for UP, and the government has allotted Rs 156 crore for betterment of facilities around it.
"Taj Mahal is already an established tourist spot, so we have focused more on the projects we are taking up within the next one year, especially Kumbh Mela," said the tourism minister.
Joshi said that the government is focusing efforts towards Ayodhya, Varanasi and Chitrakoot, with the aim to make Ardh Kumbh Mela a major symbol of Uttar Pradesh tourism.
However, Azam Khan also commented on Yogi Adityanath's five-day stay at Gorakhpur during Navratri.
"It is good that if the country's second king is so religious. Yogi should run government from there (Gorakhpur) and it will be a sacred government. He should convene Assembly there only and I will also come to attend," Azam said.
He further alleged that "we are becoming a role model for the world.
Today's government is doing whatever to remain in power is showing the world a way".