Ahead of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s two-day visit to Tirupati, several TDP and BJP leaders were put under house detention on Wednesday. Amidst high security, the TDP activists registered their protests in Tirupati with placards, demanding that Jagan Mohan Reddy should sign the faith declaration form at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). Protests were carried out in other parts of the state, too.
Couple of days ago, TTD chairman YV Subba Reddy announced his decision to revoke the rule that non-Hindus should mandatorily declare their faith in lord Venkateswara when they visited the temple. This decision snowballed into a major controversy. The G.O regarding the declaration form has been existing since 1990, and was made mandatory in 2012 after Jagan visited the temple then and refused to sign the form.
The initial protests by the BJP were soon taken over by the main opposition TDP, who demanded that Jagan should declare his faith in lord Venkateswara when he enters the temple. CM Jagan is on a two-day visit to Tirupati. As per his schedule, Jagan was supposed to reach Tirupati at 1 pm on Wednesday; offer cotton clothes to the deity later in the day, and visit the temple again the next day.
The controversy regarding the faith declaration was further aggravated by Minister Kodali Nani, who said that there was no need for the Chief Minister to declare his faith, and stated that the rule should be revoked. He argued that any person would visit a place of worship only if s/he had faith in that god, and questioned the need for such a rule.
Questioning the logic behind the form declaration, he had said that he went to different places of worship (churches, mosques) but no one asked him to declare his faith then. He further asked why such a rule exists only at Tirupati and not at Srisailam temple or Kanaka Durga temple, or mosque or church.
“Who made these rules? And whom did they ask?” Nani, who is the Minister of Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, had said, “If a non-Hindu visits the temple without declaring their faith, will that pollute the temple?”
While talking about a series of attacks on temples in the state, the Minister referred to the idol of Anjaneya as ‘Bomma’ (toy). The BJP soon claimed that it was hurt by these comments and filed a complaint with the police.
On Wednesday, Bajrang Dal group members attempted to gherao Jagan’s Hyderabad residence at Lotus Pond and demanded the suspension of Minister Kodali Nani.