Lucknow: In a move to stem controversy over the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday said the 17th century marble mausoleum is an important tourist draw and it was immaterial who built it and for what reason.
"It does not matter who built it and for what reason. It was built by the blood and sweat of Indian labourers," he said.
The move is being seen as an attempt by the state government to put to rest the unsavoury controversy that has emerged after BJP legislator from Sardhana, Sangeet Som called the Taj Mahal a blot on Indian culture. The statement drew widespread criticism.
The Chief Minister said the monument of love was important for the Uttar Pradesh government, specially "from the tourism perspective" and "it is our priority to provide facilities and safety to tourists there".
Adityanath is also scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and other important monuments in Agra on October 26, an official told IANS.
Earlier last month, the state government has omitted reference to the Taj Mahal in a booklet published on completion of six months of the Yogi Adityanath government. The move had drawn sharp criticism, prompting Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi to remark that Taj Mahal was of great importance to the state government and to the nation.