Protest demonstrations were held at temple town Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday opposing the appointment of Putta Sudhakar Yadav as the new chairman of the world’s richest pilgrim centre Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) trust board this week. Some Hindu outfits, religious heads and some political workers too joined the demonstrations which were foiled by the police.
Yadav, a close relative of Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, is in the eye of a controversy for sometime due to his proximity with some Christian organisations in his native Kadapa district in Rayala Seema region. Yadav is opposed by the Hindu groups for his regular attendance at annual congregations of a local church for the last few years. Yadav has been active in the ruling TDP for the last few years and unsuccessfully contested on the party’s ticket from Mydukur Assembly seat in 2014. Later, he was made the party in charge for the Assembly constituency. The TTD chairman post has been lying vacant from 27 April 2017 when the incumbent and former TDP MLA Chadalavada Krishna Murthy died. Several leading politicians and socialites lobbied hard to get this coveted post, but Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has decided to give it to the OBCs as Krishna Murthy belonged to the community.
Naidu after considering over a dozen names zeroed in on Yadav for the TTD chairman post, but that was opposed by some Hindu outfits, religious heads and even RSS’ Andhra unit seniors. Then Endowment Minister P. Manikyala Rao expressed his opposition to Yadav being made the TTD chief. The CM then held back from issuing orders on Yadav’s appointment. However, after the BJP ministers’ resignation from AP Cabinet in March, Naidu called for an intelligence report on the charges against Yadav on his connections with Christian outfits. Sources in the CM’s office told this newspaper that the reports had cleared Yadav and mentioned that he was eligible for the post.
The Hindu groups and some religious heads were not convinced with the government’s version and have demanded that he not be allowed to take charge of the post. “We will oppose this appointment and will launch an agitation and move the court, if necessary. A person with strong connections with Christian church cannot be made TTD chairman,” said Shiva Swamy, a religious head in Tirupati. Even BJP leader in Telangana Assembly, G. Kishan Reddy, who visited Tirumala on Saturday, told the media that the post of TTD chairman should be kept above controversies and cross-religious beliefs. “Crores of Hindus world over hold this temple sacred and a leader with tainted history cannot be made its head,” Reddy told this newspaper on phone from Tirupati.
As already a case is before the Hyderabad High Court on whether to allow the 40 employees of TDD, who belong to non-Hindu religions in their jobs, the appointment of a person with connections to other religions might affect it, feels Gopala Reddy, a Hindu Vahini activist from Tirupati. He says the stir would be intensified against Yadav. But Yadav, while addressing a media conference in Tirupati on Friday, made it clear that he was “a 100% Hindu” and was fully eligible for the post. “I attended a few meetings of a local Church in Mydukur as a local politician and there is nothing wrong in it. As far as my religious beliefs are concerned, I am a Hindu,” he claimed.