In a first the monument of love Taj Mahal saw a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister visit its premises on Thursday 26 October. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath visited the Taj Mahal in Agra for the first time since assuming office in March 2017. The CM’s visit is being seen as an attempt to soothe frayed tempers that have been ignited by the controversial statements made on the Agra tourist spot by politicians in recent times. The last time a UP CM visited the Taj Mahal was former CM of UP Akhilesh Yadav. He had visited the 17th century Mughal-era monument 2 years back.

The UP CM Yogi Adityanath received a guard of honour on his arrival in the tourist city of Agra. Over 14,000 policemen were deployed across the city to ensure security so that no untoward incident occurred. During his visit to to the Agra tourist spot Adityanath launched a mega cleanliness campaign also being called the Clean Taj drive. He was accompanied by 500 BJP activists and social workers during the cleanliness drive. Visuals showed the CM along with the BJP workers weild the broom and sweep the area clean.

The Taj visit also saw the CM announce the construction of a rubber barrage near the Nagala Paima. Yogi Adityanath later in the day will also be launching some Pro-Poor Tourism projects and will address a public gathering at the GIC ground.

For some time now several rows have errupted because of politicians passing controversial statements on the Taj. BJP’s Sangeet Som had said that the Taj was built by traitors and was ‘a blot on Indian culture’. Later BJP’s Vinay Katiyar added fuel to the fire by saying: ‘Taj Mahal is a monument built over a Shiv Ling’. A few months back the Taj Mahal was not mentioned in the UP government’s tourism brochure which lead to a backlash from the opposition. CM Yogi had at that time announced that his government would spend Rs 370 crore on developing and promoting tourism in Agra.

Reacting on the Taj controversy Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress said: “a clear religious bias which is completely misplaced”.