‘Mayawati will meet the same fate as that of Shah Jahan or Saddam Hussein’

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Azam Khan, Senior Minister, Up
Azam Khan, Senior Minister, Up
Photo: Pramod Adhikari

EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

Why do you want the Taj Mahal to be demolished?
I never said that the Taj Mahal has to be demolished. I was quoted out of context by the media. I have my own way of putting across my thoughts and ideas. If those in the media don’t have the ability to grasp the meaning and the message, then it’s not my fault. I was in Muzaffarnagar in connection with the distribution of cheques to girl students under the Kanya Vidya Dhan and Padhe Beti Badhe Beti schemes. I had said that nobody has the right to waste public money on memorials like the Taj and statues of elephants. Shah Jahan committed a grave sin by splurging public money on extravagant projects.

What was the issue you were driving at?
The issue was neither Taj Mahal nor Shah Jahan. The issue was the tyranny of leaders like Mayawati. I wanted to caution the people to beware of such tyrannical leaders. People should draw a lesson from the misconduct of such leaders so that they are never cheated again. We should also draw lessons from Shah Jahan and Saddam Hussein, who wasted public money by erecting statues and memorials. All the girls who received the cheques are like my daughters. Our government is spending people’s money for their welfare. I told the girls that ‘Sab Kuch Banna, Maya Na Banna (Be anything you want in life but never be like Mayawati)’. I’m repeatedly saying this so that it enters the folklore and becomes a popular slogan.

Are you equating her with Shah Jahan and Saddam?
Mayawati is the modern-day Mughal empress. She spent thousands of crores on erecting statues of those who are strangers to the people of Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati will meet the same fate as that of Shah Jahan or Saddam, who had erected his own statues at the cost of the public exchequer. No one has the right to squander public money on wasteful projects like the Taj and statues of elephants.

So, you want the Taj Mahal to be demolished?
I never said that. For some political forces, Babri Masjid was the symbol of Islamic slavery in India, so they demolished it. Babri Masjid was a place of worship, while Taj is a graveyard. Had there been any attempt to demolish the Taj, the whole world would have opposed it. But, had there been an attempt to pull down this structure, I would have supported them.

Your detractors allege that you have tried to revive the bitter memories of the Babri Masjid demolition by raising this issue without any context.
Is it not a historical fact that the Babri Masjid was demolished? The mosque was sacrificed and this fact can never be erased from the collective memory of Muslims.

Your statement came at a time when Agra was hosting the three-day Global Partnership Summit for attracting investment to Uttar Pradesh. You put your Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in an embarrassing situation.
No such thing has happened.

There are allegations that you raked up the controversy because you want to revive your battle with the Centre and the ASI for bringing the Taj Mahal under the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board’s control.
Taj Mahal is nothing but a graveyard. Graveyards belong to Allah. So, it’s a waqf property and an entry of this property should be made in the Sunni Central Waqf Board records. It’s a matter of principle and that is why we had taken up the matter with the Centre that the waqf board should take over the management and control of the Taj Mahal. Right now, it’s a big money-spinner for the Union government.

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