The Taj Paradox

Thursday, 21 January 2021



The Taj Paradox

Swapnil Bharali | February 29, 2020 12:44 hrs

Over the last week, two gentlemen who make no pretences about their dislike for Islam, happened to meet. The host, Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, gifted a portrait of the Taj Mahal to his guest, Donald Trump, President of the United States of America. Well, the irony of the situation did not go missing with anyone. A two-day maiden visit to India and the massive brouhaha thereof saw the POTUS visit just three cities – Ahmedabad (the Mahatma Gandhi factor), Agra (solely to see the Taj Mahal) and New Delhi (a default destination for any head of state).

The point of wonder here is how did the Taj Mahal end up as a destination for the Trump family? After all, less than three years ago, Adityanath had denounced the Taj Mahal – one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO heritage site – as an inappropriate representation of Indian heritage. Immediately on assuming power, Adityanath’s abhorrence for the iconic edifice built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan made him remove the Taj Mahal from his government’s list of cultural heritage sites in the state; the booklet issued by the government instead carried names of temples in Mathura, Ayodhya and Gorakhpur. 

So was it the Trumps who decided that they just had to be touristy enough to go see the Taj Mahal?

Donald Trump’s aversion to Islam also makes him an unpopular man and he has been known to use and tweet unflattering words like “rapefugees” to describe Muslims, claimed that “thousands” of Muslims celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York and that Barrack Obama is “secretly a Muslim.”

Given these recent manifestations of the dislike that the two gentlemen have for Islam and being confirmed Islamophobics to the point that they don’t shy away at all from making anti-Islamic statements, the choice of Adityanath’s gift to Donald and Melania Trump remains an amusing paradox. Three years ago, having irked the people of Agra with his anti-Taj step, the UP CM had thereafter gone on a damage control act; images of him sweeping a portion of the Taj Mahal compound also surfaced. Perhaps the Trump visit offered him a great chance at redeeming himself in the eyes of his people.

So was it the Yogi who pulled the strings so that the Trumps could finally see the Taj Mahal?

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