Newsmaker | Taj Mahal plea: One BJP leader’s labour of un-wonder

Rajneesh Singh is a bachelor in dental surgery (BDS) from Lucknow, but does not practise regularly, he says, as he remains busy in social and political activities. One activity in particular: filing petitions regarding Taj Mahal.

On Thursday, the Allahabad High Court pulled up Singh, the media in-charge of the BJP’s Ayodhya unit, while dismissing a plea by him seeking a ”fact-finding inquiry” into the history of the Taj Mahal and the “opening of 22 rooms” on the monument’s premises. Which of his legal or constitutional rights were infringed, the court asked, saying he had failed to answer this, and slamming him for the “casual” PIL.

Taj mahal, taj mahal allahabad high court, tejo mahalya, who filed Taj Mahal case, taj mahal rajneesh singh, BJP taj mahal, political pulse, indian express Not disheartened by the HC order, Rajneesh Singh is planning to take his case to the Supreme Court next.

Singh had also sought setting aside provisions under which the Taj Mahal had been declared a historical monument.

An RSS volunteer who was appointed to the BJP media in-charge position a year ago, the 30-year-old earlier served as district convener of the party’s NGO cell besides running one such organisation himself “to help the needy”.

But, all through, his eyes have been on the world-famous monument. To collect information about the rooms existing in Taj Mahal, Singh has over the years filed over a dozen RTI applications with various ministries. Between 2019 and 2021, he exchanged communications with them to get information on the issue.

On the basis of the reply received to one such RTI, he sent a letter to the Centre with an appeal to unlock the doors of rooms in the Taj. Singh says he even met senior BJP leaders on the issue. When he received no response, from any quarter, he filed the PIL in the High Court earlier this month. Singh says he made the decision in his personal capacity, and didn’t consult anyone in the BJP.

Local BJP leaders refuse to talk about him and his case, only saying he was appointed media in-charge because he had contacts with local mediapersons in the rural areas of Ayodhya. His job was to inform mediapersons about the party’s programmes and share press releases, they said.

Not disheartened by the HC order, Singh is planning to take his case to the Supreme Court next. “If there are any directions for me in the High Court’s judgment, those will be followed. Otherwise, I will move the Supreme Court after preparing better (for the petition).”

He says his intentions are pure. “The Taj Mahal is an international place for tourism. When different groups make claims regarding it, that maligns the image of the country. I filed the PIL with the intention that if facts are cleared, disputes will get over… I want to know why these rooms are closed.”

Several right-wing Hindu organisations, as well as some BJP leaders, have earlier claimed that Taj Mahal was built on the site of a temple called Tejo Mahalaya.

Singh says the Central government had told him the rooms were locked “due to security reasons”. “But the government gave no satisfactory reply when asked what these security reasons were.”

And so, Singh says, he will fight on. “No one wants to enter the dispute… I am not going to leave this issue unresolved.”

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