Amaravati, Sep 16 (PTI) Even before the row over the burning of the Antarvedi temple chariot died down, three lion statues that adorn the silver-plated chariot of the historic Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada were found missing, triggering yet another political slugfest in Andhra Pradesh.
The opposition parties attacked the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government over the missing lions while Endowments Minister Velampalli Srinivasa Rao said the chariot was never used after they came to power last year.
Velampalli said a departmental committee was being constituted to look into the matter.
The main opposition TDP demanded that the Endowments Minister be sacked forthwith and the temple executive officer be suspended.
BJP state president Somu Veerraju visited the temple and inspected the chariot.
He said only one of the four lions fixed to the chariot was in place while the others were missing.
Even the remaining one had cracks on its feet, Veerraju said.
Both the TDP and the BJP demanded a thorough investigation.
The famous temple of Goddess Kanaka Durga, the presiding deity of Vijayawada, lies in the West constituency represented by the Endowments Minister.
The chariot was never used after our government came to power. The investigation will reveal whether the lions were missing now or since the previous regime, the Minister said after visiting the temple.
The opposition parties were raising 'an unnecessary hue and cry' over this, he lashed out.
Police sources said the missing of the lion statues came to light three days ago when an inspection was conducted in the aftermath of the Antarvedi temple chariot burning incident earlier this month.
The state government has ordered a CBI probe into the incident.
However, no police case had been registered so far over the missing lion statues, the sources said.
The Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy varla Devasthanam Executive Officer Mohan Rao maintained that the silver-plated chariot was kept parked inside the Mallikarjuna Mahamantapam for the past 18 months.
TDP MLC Budda Venkanna alleged that the lion statues of the chariot were stolen and anti-social elements were running riot. PTI DBV VS VS