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New twist in Srisailam temple's 'religion controversy'

26-08-201926-08-2019 15:15:31 IST
Updated On 26-08-2019 15:20:28 ISTUpdated On 26-08-20192019-08-26T09:45:31.527Z26-08-2019 2019-08-26T09:45:14.468Z - 2019-08-26T09:50:28.472Z - 26-08-2019

New twist in Srisailam temple's 'religion controversy'

The recent controversy that raged over the auctioning of Srisailam temple shops to people of other faiths has received an interesting new twist. A report prepared by the temple board’s new executive officer dropped an even bigger bombshell.

The report claims that there are about 19 employees of other religious faiths who have been discharging duties as part of the Srisailam temple board for over 35 years now. Three of these employees are permanent staffers while the others are working on contract basis, Telugu news channel TV9 reported.

The EO’s report has an even more damning revelation. It says that a majority of these employees of other religious faiths, 10 to be precise, were actually recruited when TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu was the chief minister of the state.

While tracing the origin of their recruitment to as way back as 1984, the report categorically says that most of the recruitments were undertaken between 1998 and 2003, the time when Chandrababu Naidu was heading a TDP government in Andhra Pradesh.

The report clearly intends to nail the recent negative campaign that the new YSRCP government led by YS Jaganmohan Reddy is abetting the ‘invasion of other religions into Hindu temples in every way possible.’ A controversy was sparked off recently over the allotment of shops in the temple complex to some people pursuing other religious faiths.

Leaders of the BJP and the TDP came down heavily on the YSRCP government exploiting this issue to the hilt even as a section of the media tried to paint the entire issue with a religious colour. A ‘Chalo Srisailam’ protest was also called by the BJP and its affiliated outfits.

Realising the potential dangers from this protest, the Jaganmohan Reddy government immediately sought to diffuse the tension. It transferred the temple executive officer Sri Ramachandra Murthy out of the position and replaced him with special deputy collector K S Rama Rao. Also, the tender for the auctioning of the shops to the non-Hindu traders was also cancelled. In view of the swift action, the BJP called off its planned protest.

But the new EO’s latest report aimed at a reality check only throws up more dirt in the air. Speaking to the Telugu news channel, the EO sought to clarify that 19 employees of other religious faiths have indeed been discharging duties for the temple board for over three decades now. He said, of the three permanent employees, the longest serving has put in about 35 years of service while the two others have been working for over 25 and 15 years till now.

On the question of what the board intends to do with these employees, the new EO merely said that the board would act as per the directions of the state government.

The temple board official’s clarification aided with his report only sought to imply that the presence of these ‘others’ is not a new practice and was certainly not initiated by the present YSRCP government. This flies in the face of the bandwagon that quickly pounced on the Srisailam issue a few days ago in their hurry to whip up religious frenzy and smear the Jaganmohan Reddy government with this muck.

Close on the heels of the Srisailam controversy, the Jaganmohan Reddy government was ‘forced to face an extended bout of political fury on religious lines’ in the form of another ‘orchestrated’ dispute. This time, it was in the name of advertisements of other religions printed on the back of tickets issued by APSRTC for Tirumala travellers.

As truth emerged later, the contract for the printing of these tickets with the advertisements of other religions was given during the previous TDP government. The tickets carried advertisements promoting Chandrababu Naidu and his government’s schemes for the minorities in the state.

Once again, it was the same section of the media and the leaders of both the BJP and TDP that launched an all-out attack against the Jagan government calling the so-called act as nothing short of a ‘sacrilege’. But as usual, within minutes of the ‘truth’ surfacing and taking the fizz out of their blitz, they all went into a hiding.

-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru

Newssting Desk
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