Forget Shah Jahan’s love, pyaar, ishq; Agra wants education first

Five years ago, when the Yogi Adityanath government removed the Taj Mahal from the list of wonders in the UP tourism booklet, opinions were divided.

| Updated: 25 April, 2024 4:25 pm IST

AGRA: While Shah Jahan is known for building the Taj Mahal, locals in Agra feel that the city lacks quality education despite boasting a UNESCO heritage site. Five years ago, when the Yogi Adityanath government removed the Taj Mahal from the list of wonders in the UP tourism booklet, opinions were divided.

Eternal Beauty Carved in Marble: The Majestic Taj Mahal at Sunset Photo by : Ritu Rawat

Whether the attempt was to remove all references to Mughal history from books or use it as a tool to complete BJP’s manifesto of Hindutva. After seven years of BJP government in UP, locals of Agra say that the thrust on education is more important than anything else.

56-year-old Accountant Hatram said, “What good will 5 kg of grains do? These freebies have made people incompetent. This government isn’t focusing on education and employment. People should vote for the party that works on the ground, prioritizing development to assist the lower sections of society who can’t afford it.”

“The Yogi government isn’t prioritizing education. Ghar 5 kilo anaaj se nahi chalta hai (A home can’t run on 5 kilograms of grains). Primary education is crucial. The costs of books and fees are soaring like never before. Donations should be halted in big private schools. The fees are so high that parents are helpless in providing their children with quality education,” said Rajendra and Sachin, Handicrafts Shop owners near the Taj Mahal Eastern Gate.

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As we walked away from the Eastern gate of the Taj Mahal, we discovered a serene riverside spot called Dushhera Ghat right behind it. Adjacent to the Taj, there stands an ancient temple which is 400 years old. It’s a place where locals go to worship Lord Shiva. The Ghat got its name from the Ganga Dushhera Mela, which used to be organised at the Yamuna river bank.

At the ghat, local women support the BJP for its schemes, but they also demand quality and accessible education for the socially deprived sections.

Prabha Ratore, a White salwar Kurta-clad woman said, “There should be more schools. Teachers are also not giving proper attention to children; they have no manners. So, this government needs to focus on primary government schools.”

Two young individuals outside the Dr. Ambedkar Metro station in Agra said, “Rahul Gandhi should be the next PM. Although the BJP is about to bring a law against paper leaks, we are not sure if they will act on it. There are no jobs and good education for youngsters like us.”

Agra is known for its significant Dalit and Muslim voter base. Approximately 37% of voters in Agra belong to these communities. The city has seen shifts in political power between parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) over the past few decades. Known as Uttar Pradesh’s Dalit Capital, Agra is set to vote in the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls on May 7.

The BJP is backing its incumbent MP, Satyapal Singh Baghel, to contest the seat. He faces competition from the BSP’s Pooja Amrohi and the SP’s Suresh Chandra Kardam.

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