The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the organisation that manages the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh, may end preferential treatment meted out to VIPs by means of granting them ticketed entry into the temple. The system has been accused of not only being discriminatory, but allegations of corruption by rigging it have also surfaced.
YV Subba Reddy, Andhra Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy's uncle who was recently appointed as chairman on the TTD trust board, said on Saturday that the system posed great inconvenience to ordinary devotees and "a decision to this effect will be taken at the meeting of the new TTD trust board to be constituted shortly".
The chairman also asked VIPs to limit their visit to the temple to once a year. He added that VIPs would get special darshan only once a year from now on.
Reddy was appointed as chairman of the trust board after the members constituting the earlier board quit because the YSR Congress formed the state government. The chief minister is expected to form the new board soon.
Under the TDP government, the system was introduced in which the Tirumala Tirupati VIP Break Darshan is divided into three lists — L1,L2 and L3 — on the basis of priority. The L1 is for VVIP officials such as judges, higher cadre government officials and higher cadre members of political groups. The second list is for TTD employees, lower level officials and government representatives. The L3 grants VIP access to anyone with letters of recommendation from sitting MPs, legislators, higher cadre officials, and TTD employees.
In March, an Andhra Pradesh High Court lawyer, Umesh Chandra, had also filed a PIL seeking to scrap the ticketing system. The court is set to hear the case on Monday. He said that the discriminatory list system flouts the customs of the temple and infringes upon the right to equality.
"The TTD Act says if any new system is to be implemented at the temples, it should satisfy the use of the system and respect the customs of the temple. In court, they (temple authorities) were able to establish the use of the system but not custom. The list system is discriminatory and hence against the customs of the temple. The arguments will continue on Monday,” he added.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu had also recently called for restricting VIP visits to the Tirumala temple to once a year.
On Saturday, about 66,957 ordinary devotees waited for 24 hours in queues measuring 2 kilometers to visit the temple.