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Yogi Adityanath visits Taj Mahal, sweeps parking area with broom

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Taj Mahal on October 26, days after some BJP leaders made provocative statements against the 17th century Mughal era monument.

Accompanied by scores of security personnel, officials and jostling crowds of supporters, he walked down the path leading to Taj Mahal along with State Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

Adityanath, the first BJP Chief Minister of the State to visit the monument, entered from the western gate.

Donning a mask, wearing yellow gloves and wielding a broom, Adityanath, accompanied by about 500 BJP members including MLAs from western Uttar Pradesh, swept a parking area, in an apparent bid to promote the Swachh Bharat mission.

Over 14,000 policemen were deployed across Agra in view of the Chief Minister's visit.

The visit is seen by many as a damage control exercise after the eruption of a series of controversies, beginning with a tourism department booklet not mentioning the white marble monument in its list of development projects in the State.

Subsequently, BJP MLA Sangeet Som called Taj Mahal a "blot on Indian history" and BJP MP Vinay Katiyar said it was originally a Shiva temple.

However, at a recent rally in Gorakhpur, Adityanath called Taj Mahal the "pride of India" and referred to it as a "world class monument".

This was a significant departure from his remarks at a rally in Bihar in 2016, when he said Taj Mahal does not represent Indian culture and that visiting foreign dignitaries should be presented with the Gita rather than replicas of the monument.

The Chief Minister had declared that the State government will spend ₹370 crore on development plans aimed at promoting tourism in Agra.

Along with the visit to Taj Mahal, Adityanath will inaugurate various development projects in Agra, according to an official spokesperson.

Adityanath earlier went to Nangla Paima village and visited a rubber check dam. He also visited Kachhpura village.

More than two years ago, Akhilesh Yadav visited the monument as Chief Minister.