Jagan kicks up religious storm

Kadapa MP Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, a practising Christian, created a major controversy on Wednesday by entering the temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala along with some 60 followers, without signing the declaration of religious faith meant for non-Hindu devotees.

It is a custom at the Tirumala temple since 1933, that a non-Hindu visitor must sign a form declaring that though he is a non-Hindu, he believes in Lord Venkateswara. The practice is more strictly enforced since 1960, TTD sources said.
The YSR Congress chief, who was on a two-day tour of Tirupati for the June 12 bypoll entered the Vaikuntam Queue Complex-I in the morning with several followers for the darshan. TTD officials told his followers to get Mr Reddy to sign the declaration.
His aides included former TTD chairman and YSR Congress Tirupati candidate Bhumana Karunakar Reddy and former TTD trust board ex-officio member Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy.
Mr Reddy’s followers, both those who accompanied him inside temple and those who waited outside, raised slogans of “Jai Jagan” when he came out of the Mahadwaram after darshan. There was a huge commotion as security personnel pushed away the sloganeering supporters.
It did not take long for a religious controversy to acquire political overtones.
Supporters of Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu, a vehement critic of the YSR family, seized on the incident to criticise the YSR Congress chief.
They said the incident proved their contention that YSR had played havoc with the Tirumala temple “by making a non-believer (Mr Bhumana 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.)

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