Action sought against Jagan over Tirupati row, YSR party hits back
Hyderabad, May 3 (IANS) A day after YSR Congress party leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's visit to Tirumala temple kicked up a row, leaders of Andhra Pradesh's ruling Congress and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Thursday demanded action against him for flouting temple rules.
The leaders of both the parties accused Jaganmohan Reddy, a Christian, of showing disrespect to other religions and disturbing the sanctity of the Balaji temple.
YSR Congress party hit back at TDP, questioning its secular credentials and said it was for the temple authorities to judge who should file a declaration.
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.
Another Congress leader and legislator P. Sudhakar Reddy demanded that both the government and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of India's richest temple, to order a probe.
Jagan Wednesday visited the temple but refused to sign the register kept for the non-Hindu visitors. Before entering the temple, non-Hindus have to sign a register declaring faith in Lord Venkateshwara.
According to TTD officials, the son of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy argued that as he had visited the temple and signed the register in 2009, there was no need for him to sign again.
He also reminded them that his father visited the temple several times and also offered silk clothes and gifts to the deity on behalf of the state government.
Executive officer of the TTD L.V. Subramanyam said it was being ascertained whether it was necessary to sign the declaration every time a person visited the temple.
TDP leader and former minister S. Chandramohan Reddy alleged that Jagan had no respect for other religions.
He alleged Jagan desecrated the sacred place as the people accompanying him raised slogans of "Jai Jagan".
State Endowments Minister C. Ramachandraiah found fault with Jagan's supporters causing disturbance in the temple. He told reporters 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.
Meanwhile, the YSR Congress party hit back at TDP questioning its secular credentials and alleging that it was trying to whip up religious, caste and other sensitive issues.
"Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has visited Tirumala for over 15 times by now and objections, if any, should have been raised by the concerned officials and not TDP," party spokesperson Jupudi Prabhakar Rao told reporters here.
"It is not for the TDP leader to judge who should file a declaration and why as TTD has official machinery and the state government monitors the functioning of the temple. Should Chandrababu Naidu and his followers raise the issue they will attract the penal provisions of the Representation of People Act 1951," he said.
He termed TDP's criticism on Jagan's temple visit as an assault on the secular fabric of the country.
Prabhakar Rao accused the TDP chief of desperately trying to politicise the issue. He was confident that the people would teach a lesson to Naidu in June 12 by-elections to Tirupati and 17 other assembly seats and Nellore Lok Sabha seat.
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