In the first state budget presented by the Uttar Pradesh government with Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister, the Taj Mahal, regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world, found no mention in the various schemes for "maintenance of places of cultural and historical importance to promote tourism."
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the 63-page budget, presented by UP Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal on Tuesday, makes no mention of the Taj Mahal in the section titled, "Hamari Sanskritik Virasat" (Our Cultural Heritage).
The budget has made provisions for a number of schemes for Hindu pilgrimage towns of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Mathura and Chitrakoot.
This is not the first instance when Yogi Adityanath has knowingly ignored the Taj Mahal. In June this year, at a rally in Bihar, he reportedly said that the Taj Mahal "did not reflect Indian culture."
While some claimed that the move was another way of promoting Hindutva, others feared that neglecting the Taj Mahal would hurt UP's tourism revenues.
"The identification of heritage with Hindu identity is in complete contradiction with UP's 'Sanjhi Virasat' (Shared Heritage)," Athar Siddiqui of the Centre For Objective Research And Development said.
Rajesh Mishra, a professor at Lucknow University, said that the state government must avoid linking religious places with the state's work. "There is no room for appeasement for people of one religion and complete disregard for others," he added.
Taj Mahal's non-inclusion in the budget was also criticised on social media platforms.
As part of an outlay of ₹1,240 crore for heritage sites, the government has allotted ₹800 crore for the Prasad Yojana to develop infrastructural facilities in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura.
There is also a ₹200 crore outlay to set up a cultural centre in Varanasi, PTI has reported. UP government has also has also decided to organise special programmes, such as Lok Malhar in Gorakhpur and Sawan Jhoola in Ayodhya. It has also made provisions for a Krishna Sangrahalya to be set up in Mathura.
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