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Amidst slugfest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and the Opposition over Taj Mahal and its heritage in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday visited the 17th-century monument to get his personal ‘Wah Taj’ moment. Not only did Adityanath visited the main dome and underneath graves, he also wielded the broom to sweep a peripheral area of Taj Mahal to give the message of cleanliness and promote the Swachh Bharat Mission. Adityanath, who was accompanied by a battery of cabinet ministers, spent nearly 30 minutes at the Taj Mahal complex and the surrounding zone. The chief minister also posed for photographs with the visitors. He has become the first ever UP BJP chief minister to visit the Unesco World Heritage site. Besides that Adityanath also inaugurated and laid the foundation for the tourism and development projects worth Rs 272 crore for Agra and Taj Mahal. Recently, the UP government had come under intense criticism from the Opposition after Taj Mahal had failed to find mention in the state's tourism publicity booklet. The opposition parties had blamed the BJP dispensation for "working on its Hindutva and anti-Muslim agenda" since Taj was built by the Mughals. Later, the state government had claimed that development and pro-poor tourism projects estimated at over Rs 370 crore had been sanctioned in UP, of which over 42 per cent or Rs 156 crore had been allocated for projects pertaining to Agra and Taj Mahal. However, a few days back BJP legislator from Sardhana (Meerut) Sangeet Som questioned the association of Taj Mahal with the country’s heritage and suggested that ‘native kings’ should also be glorified in history books just like the Mughals. Another senior leader Vinay Katiyar claimed that Taj Mahal was originally a Lord Shiva temple, which was later converted into Taj Mahal. These statements had further fuelled the controversy, prompting the state government to plan Adityanth’s visit to Taj. Constructed with white ivory marble, Taj Mahal figures among the "seven wonders" of the world.
It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz in 1631.Taj Mahal is the top tourist attraction in India. In 2016, 6.2 million backpackers had visited the monument. Besides, a total of over 10 million tourists visited Agra in 2016, followed by 5.9 million and 4.9 million in Varanasi and Lucknow, respectively. This shows, Taj Mahal and Agra account for the maximum number of inbound tourists, which contributes to the local and the state economy immensely, apart from branding the state of UP. Adityanath had acknowledged Taj as an integral part of India’s heritage and termed the controversy over its non-inclusion in the tourism booklet as raked up by vested interests. He noted the entire controversy was cooked up and said that fund had been allocated for its conservation and non-inclusion in the brochure should not be construed as neglecting the monument.