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Row over Christian Jagan's visit to Hindu shrine at Tirumala
Narendra Ch | 04 May 2012

Many other major Hindu temples have this practice in some form where non-believers need to given some undertaking.. At the Meenakshi temple in Madurai and at the Pasupatinath temple in Kathmandu, boards are placed ahead of the sanctum sanctorum, debarring non-believers beyond that point.

Former Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s son and rebel Congress leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s visit to Hindu shrine Tirumala on Wednesday as part of his by-poll campaign has evoked controversy in Andhra Pradesh. As Jagan Mohan Reddy is a practising Christian and reportedly he denied Temple authorities plea to sign affidavit confirming his faith on Lord Venkateswara, the presiding deity in Tirumala, it has led to lot of criticism from almost all political parties.

More than his visit to the Temple, his followers raising political slogans within the temple as against to the traditional practice of avoiding political activities on Tirumala hill, led to major political turmoil.

 

Jagan Mohan Reddy was on Tirupati tour as part of by-poll campaign as this Assembly seat was vacated with the resignation of film star Chiranjeevi, after his election to Rajya Sabha, following his party Praja Rajyam Party’s merger into Congress. Here, former TTD Chairman Karunakar Reddy was declared as YSR Congress candidate.

Jaganmohan Reddy entered the Vaikuntam Queue Complex-I in the morning with several followers for the darshan. TTD officials told his followers to get Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy to sign the declaration. What is worse, followers of Jagan raised slogans of 'Jai Jagan' just as they were entering the main entrance of the temple during the VIP break darshan in the morning. There were more than 60 members in his entourage which was in violation of temple rules which do not allow more than 10 members along with the VIP.

When Jagan was approached by the temple authorities for a signature on the form on the previous day evening he refused to do so. Jagan entered the temple around 7 am on Wednesday the Sahastra Kalashabhishekam special puja was being performed, but a TTD superintendent again requested him to sign the declaration form. But, the young leader again refused and waited along with his followers at the Ranganayakula mandapam till the puja was over.

 

Many other major Hindu temples have this practice in some form where non-believers need to given some undertaking.. At the Meenakshi temple in Madurai and at the Pasupatinath temple in Kathmandu, boards are placed ahead of the sanctum sanctorum, debarring non-believers beyond that point. At Tirupati, since the 1980s, non-Hindu devotees usually followed the code voluntarily. Later, with the heavy influx of pilgrims, sometimes to over a lakh per day, it could not be implemented to the letter.

Foreigners do abide by it. Prominent non-Hindu devotees who visited the Tirumala temple include former railway minister Jaffer Shariff, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah and former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. They duly signed the form of faith declaration.

Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu said Jagan entering Tirumala by violating the rules of the temple proved their contention that YSR had played havoc with the Tirumala temple “by making a non-believer (Karunakar Reddy) the TTD trust board chairman, apart from making an effort to realign the sacred Seven Hills of the Lord into two hills”. (Incidentally, Mr Karunakar Reddy is a Hindu, but his long association with the YSR family and his leftist orientation has led people to believe otherwise.)

Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member V Hanumantha Rao has set a week's deadline for the government to take action against the MP from Kadapa. "If the government fails to take action against him I will sit on silent protest at the temple," he said. Rao alleged that Jagan, as Jaganmohan Reddy is popularly known, was behaving like an extra-constitutional authority. "He is displaying his arrogance even before the God," he said and found fault with the government for keeping quiet.

State's endowments minister C Ramachandraiah found fault with Jagan's supporters causing disturbance in the temple. He said that those visiting the temples should come with the faith in God and not with any political motives. He said there was a ban on campaigning on the hills and raising slogans. However, no action could be taken against those not following the tradition and raising political slogans as there was no legislation in this regard.

The Temple Protection Samithi activists and state BJP spokesperson NVSS Prabhakar flayed TTD for allowing Jagan to enter the temple by violating Hindu traditions and temple rules.

"Late YSR had no sentiments for Hinduism. He even tried to build a church in Tirumala. Jagan is showing the same disrespect," lamented leader of opposition in the AP Legislative Council Dadi Veerabhadra Rao.