Monument of love, the Taj Mahal, at heart of political storm

Source: Associated Press

By BISWAJEET BANERJEE

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — India’s famed monument of love, the white marble Taj Mahal, is finding itself at the heart of a political storm, with some members of the country’s ruling Hindu right-wing party claiming that the mausoleum built by a Muslim emperor does not reflect Indian culture.

The most recent attack came this week when Sangeet Som, a lawmaker from the Bharatiya Janata Party, called the 17th century monument “a blot on Indian culture” that was built by “traitors.”

But Som wasn’t the first to attack the mausoleum that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built in the northern city of Agra in memory of his favorite wife.

Last month, Yogi Adityanath, the controversial head monk of a famed Hindu temple who is now the top elected official of Uttar Pradesh state, where the Taj Mahal is located, said foreign dignitaries visiting his state should be gifted a copy of the Hindu religious book “Bhagvad Gita” instead of replicas of the Taj Mahal.

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