The rebel Congress leader and chief of the regional outfit Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s visit to sacred Tirumala Hills and having darshan of Lord Venkateswara triggered a big political controversy. In the true spirit of his father and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, his visit also made a mockery of the sanctity of the richest Hindu temple in the world.
It may be recalled Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s family has been fully involved in spreading of Christianity in Andhra Pradesh. Rajasekhara Reddy’s regime had witnessed concerted attempts to dilute sanctity of prominent Hindu shrines in the State and Christian missionaries were given a free hand to take up religious conversation on large scale. Even prominent Hindu shrines like Tirumala were also not spared by missionaries.
Particularly, YS regime had taken several unilateral decisions to dilute Tirumala’s prominence as the richest place of worship in the world, only after Vatican city. Presiding deity Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala is known as a God of Seven Hills. The temple is located in the midddle of seven hills.
But, during YS regime a mischievous government order was issued restricting purview to one of the Tirumala's Hills and declaring four other hills as ‘places of tourism’. It was attempted to handover the remaining two hills for Christian propagation to his son-in-law’s brother Anil Kumar, who is known as an influential Christian missionary.
This government order was said to be part of deep rooted conspiracy by foreign influential Christian missionaries to dilute Hindu influence on Seven Hills, by making four hills as centre of ‘recreation’ activities like gambling, prostitution and similar activities in the name of ‘tourism’. Anil Kumar decided to make the two hills as his headquarters and according to his master plan, converting half of population of Andhra Pradesh into Christianity within next ten years.
However, due to strong opposition and resistance from Hindu organisation, the Y S Rajasekhara Reddy government was forced to withdraw this controversial government order. Incidentally, Rajasekhara Reddy died in a helicopter crash on his way to Tirumala Hills. Just previous day of this mishap, heated discussion was held on the floor of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on the sanctity of Tirumala Hills. The leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu warned the Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy that, “Lord Balaji (Venkateswara Swamy) is very powerful deity, attempting to dilute his sanctity is nothing but playing with fire. The deity will not remain silent”.
Rajasekhara Reddy appointed his close relative B Karunakara Reddy, who is said to be non-believer, as Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Trust Board. He was founder member of Radical Students Union. His term was marked with several controversies and large scale misuse of TTD resources and also valuable antiques.
In true spirit of his father, Kadapa MP, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, a practising Christian, created a major controversy on April 2, 2012, 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.
Jaganmohan Reddy was on Tirupati’s tour as part of by-poll campaign as this Assembly seat was vacated with the resignation of film star Chiranjeevi, after his election to the 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 Jaganmohan 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.
TTD organised a VIP darshan for Jagan, who is a MP. But when Jagan was approached by the temple authorities for a signature on the form on the previous day evening he refused to do so. When Jagan entered the temple at around 7 am 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.
“The Agama rules do not impose any such condition, but non-Hindu devotees must sign a declaration form which says that they believe in Lord Govinda,” Tirumala Tirupati Temple Peshkar (administrative officer) Chandrasekhar Pillai said. TTD rules, however, prescribe that non-Hindus need not sign these declaration forms every time they visit but sign at least once in their lifetime.
Jagan reportedly argued that when he visited Tirumala in 2009 with his father, the then chief minister, he had not filled any form. “Why should I sign the form now? I had darshan at that time,” Jagan argued with the officials.