Sangeet Som's remarks on Taj Mahal betray ignorance of history and frustration with BJP leadership
Som thinks the world is wrong. He views the Taj as a monument of hate. He thinks it isn't a symbol of our history and heritage, but a 'blot on Indian culture' and is built by 'traitors.' Thankfully, it is beyond Som's capability to rewrite history and change the popular belief surrounding this architectural marvel. To the world, the Taj is a symbol of India.
Sangeet Singh Som studied till Class 12.
The twice over BJP MLA belonged to an affluent family. There was no pressing need for him to study further after he completed his intermediate examination from a college in Khatauli, a municipal township in western Uttar Pradesh. His vocation lay elsewhere.
About two decades later, he is now attempting to rewrite the history of the Taj Mahal.
The world thinks of the Taj as a beautiful monument to love.
Som thinks the world is wrong. He views the Taj as a monument of hate. He thinks it isn't a symbol of our history and heritage, but a "blot on Indian culture" and is built by "traitors."
Thankfully, it is beyond Som's capability to rewrite history and change the popular belief surrounding this architectural marvel. To the world, the Taj remains a symbol of India.
Before commenting on the Taj, perhaps Som ought to have visited its website put up by the Uttar Pradesh government, which describes the it thus: "One knows that the Taj is among the World’s Wonders. One knows that it is among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One knows the Taj as a legend of eternal love of an emperor for his favourite wife. Well, the Taj has distinctions much beyond these……”
Although it is a different matter that the Yogi Adityanath government recently courted controversy by dropping the Taj from its tourism booklet and later issued a series of apologetic clarifications (including the fact that out of a Rs 370 crore project sanctioned for tourism in Uttar Pradesh, Rs 157 crore is earmarked for the Taj and its surrounding areas).
Som said: Is Agra’s Taj Mahal a historical heritage? What history, whose history, which place’s history? Is it about that part of history where builder of Taj Mahal jailed his own father? Is it about makers of history who were out to finish Hindus in Uttar Pradesh and in India. If such people are still part of history then it is most unfortunate. I pronounce with guarantee fresh history will be scripted.”
Once again, it is beyond Som's capability to “guarantee” that the Taj's history will be deleted—not just from text of all kind but also from the public mind—and his version of history would be written and imposed on everyone else.
Som's own words betray his lack of knowledge about history. He thinks that the man who built the Taj arrested and jailed his father and wanted to wipe out the Hindus from Uttar Pradesh and the rest of Hindustan. He thinks the Taj was built by Aurangzeb, not Shah Jahan. The facts: Shah Jahan built the Taj. He was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb until his death.
Shah Jahan also built Delhi's Red Fort, a place from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi unfurled the National Flag on Independence Day.
If, using Som's warped point of view, the Taj is "a blot on Indian culture" and built by "traitors", then the same is true of the Red Fort. For once, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi is right in asking if Modi will heed the argument of his party colleague and stop unfurling the Tricolour from Red Fort.
One does not know exactly what Som meant when he told an audience at a public meeting in Meerut he "guaranteed" that he would script a fresh history on the 17th Century monument. But looking at his hate speech and highly condemnable remarks, Som has guaranteed one thing: He will remain in the headlines and grab a place during prime time on many television news channels.
Som's problem is seemingly less with the Taj and its makers and more with his own party. Top BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, have openly stated that some leaders make controversial statements to draw media attention and make become newsmakers.
Som’s previous claim to fame was being slapped by charges under the National Security Act and being booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and The Code of Criminal Procedure by the Akhilesh Yadav government for his alleged role in the Muzaffarnagar riots.
Som was thought of as a young leader on the rise. After all, he won in Uttar Pradesh on a BJP ticket in 2012, when the going was tough for both the party and its candidates. Naturally, Som was ambitious. Som saw himself as a contender for top positions both in the party and in the government.
However, Som's claim for a ministerial berth was ignored by Modi, Shah and Adityanath when the BJP formed a government in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year. He was also not given a post in the party.
But Som has failed to realise that he can't vent his frustrations about the party and its leadership by making irrational statements about the Taj Mahal.
The question remains: Would Som also like to guarantee scripting fresh history around Lutyens Delhi—which remains the biggest monument to British colonialism and the seat of power of an independent India—by advising Modi to shift base?
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