Andhra Minister for Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Kodali Nani's statements over the declaration of the faith of the devotees visiting Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) has sparked a political controversy in Andhra. The state’s BJP unit has taken exception to the Minister's stand on the ongoing row over TTD's reported decision not to demand a faith declaration during visits to the temple in Tirupati.
The Minister, speaking to the media recently, said that YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, being the Chief Minister of the state, has a right to pay a visit to any place of worship irrespective of the religion.
Kodali said that the declaration norm should be revoked. He said, "When the late YS Raja Shekhar Reddy visited Tirupati as an MP and an MLA, at that time, Chandrababu Naidu did not ask for a declaration. YS Jagan Mohan Reddy visited the temple before and after the Padayatra and then too, Chandrababu Naidu did not ask for a declaration. What is the need for the Chief Minister to declare his faith and beliefs when he is coming to offer cotton clothes to Lord Venkateshwara?”
The Minister further said that he went to different places of worship (churches, mosques) as a politician but no one asked him to declare his religion then. Adding that there is no need for a declaration of any devotee, he said, "I have gone to temples many times and was never asked for the same. When there is no such rule at Srisailam temple or at Kanaka Durga temple, why only at Tirupati?"
While rebutting the allegations of “attacks on Hindu temples” in the state, he said that the YSRCP government does not encourage attacks on temples. He also said that their government doesn't gain anything by doing such things.
However, BJP leaders claimed that he has ‘defiled’ the Hindu goddesses by equating them to toys and hurt the sentiments of Hindus. The BJP has been alleging attacks on Hindu temples and has been accusing the YS Jagan government of accommodating and targeting a particular religion (Hinduism), a charge that has now been picked up by the main opposition TDP as well.
The BJP state president, Somu Veerraju, demanded action against Kodali Nani and lodged a complaint against Nani at Machavaram police station in Vijayawada on Monday. Somu Veerraju has also demanded that the Minister tender an apology to Hindus. Meanwhile, a group of BJP leaders in Tirupati has also filed a complaint with the Urban Superintendent of Police (SP), taking an exception to his statements.