Speaking at an event in Sisauli area of Meerut on Sunday, Som had questioned the Taj Mahal’s place in history and said his party’s governments at the Centre and state were working to erase the “blot” (kalank katha) of Akbar, Aurangzeb and Babur from history books.

Speaking to media, the governor said, “Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world, to drag it into controversies is not correct”.

After distancing himself from BJP MP Sangeet Som’s remark on Taj Mahal by calling it the leader’s personal view and one not endorsed by the party, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in a damage-control attempt, has said that the monument was made by the blood and sweat of Bharat Mata’s sons. Adityanath said the Taj was important for the Uttar Pradesh government, especially “from the tourism perspective” and “it is our priority to provide facilities and safety to tourists there”. The latest was sparked by the non-inclusion of the Taj Mahal in a tourism department booklet.

As the controversy over Som’s statement on the 17th century architectural marvel, refuses to die down, Akhtar took a dig at the BJP leader saying, “Sangeet Som’s ignorance of history is really monumental”. Last month, the Uttar Pradesh government had omitted references to the Taj in a booklet published to mark six months of the Adityanath government. The brochure listed destinations such as Gorakhnath Peeth (temple) in Gorakhpur, where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is a Mahant Monk, and also included plans for new attractions such as a tour of locations related to Ramayana in Ayodhya. What type of history? “It is immaterial as to who and how the Taj Mahal was built…” Why only the Taj Mahal? The BJP MLA’s comments had attracted strong criticism from various quarters, including from AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi, who demanded to know if PM Modi will “stop hoisting Tiranga” from the Red Fort, since it was also built by “traitors”.

The BJP stepped into the controversy with party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao describing the Muslim rule in India as “barbaric and a period of incomparable intolerance” while asserting that its members could hold any opinion they wanted on specific monuments.