A question of faith should have been handled sensitively
Since time immemorial, offering silk clothes to the presiding deities at Temples in Andhra Pradesh during important and major temples has been a tradition followed strictly in accordance with the rules
Since time immemorial, offering silk clothes to the presiding deities at Temples in Andhra Pradesh during important and major temples has been a tradition followed strictly in accordance with the rules. But in the recent incident, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy following the tradition offered silk clothes on the auspicious occasion of Garuda Vahana Seva during the Annual Brahmotsavam at the Tirumala Temple without signing the faith declaration form which hurt the sentiments of the believers.
But what irked BJP members is the failure on the part of Chief Minister, belonging to another faith, not signing faith declaration form which is mandatory before entering the temple. By allowing him to enter the sanctum.sanctorum, the temple authorities failing to ensure its compliance without any doubt also committed a serious lapse. However, the manner in which both the state BJP chief and the minister in the state cabinet locked in heated exchanges was not only in poor taste but also unwarranted on this solemn occasion.
The fact of the matter that despite protests over spate of conversions taking place in the state and in particular at the hill shrine at Tirumala, the new government is doing nothing to curb the activities has prompted BJP to express its anguish over chief minister breaking the protocol and entering the sanctum sanctorum revered by millions of Hindus.
In addition, protests by Hindu organisations over recent incidents of temple chariot catching fire at Antarvedi and desecration of idols at other temples across the state not evoking proper response from the government has led to Telangana state BJP questioning Jagan Mohan Reddy for not signing the mandatory faith declaration form in existence in this hill shrine since the early 19th century.
Due to this, questions were raised about this government not only turning a blind eye to the happenings despite bringing it to its notice but also shows lack of apathy when it comes to hurting the sentiments of Hindus. As BJP's demand that chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy ought to have signed the faith declaration before entering Tirumala Temple but did not so is a lapse, the minister Kodali Venkateshwara Rao coming out in defence of chief minister feigning ignorance of the age-old practice is inexcusable.
Unfortunately, the issue snowballed into a controversy after the minister instead of finding out the facts came out saying thar there is no such system in practice at Tirumala. Not stopping at this, the minister provoked needlessly by dragging Prime Minister into the episode and started making bizarre comparisons which set the ball rolling to more exchanges between BJP and the minister.
Thus, as it is abundantly clear that the minister had committed a breach to help Chief Minister override prevailing rules for entering into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Summing up, the minister must get the facts right before giving replies because it is well-known that in many temples across the country, non-Hindus are strictly prohibited to enter the temple premises. Even the late Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister was denied entry into the Lord Jaganath temple at Puri in Odisha.
Though the chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy attired in temple dress and entered the sanctum sanctorum, yet not signing the faith declaration was a lapse for which the BJP state leadership has raised a pertinent question. But the minister Kodali Venkateshwara Rao prolonged the matter by coming out with inconsistent replies laced with "ridiculous and irrelevant remarks like "votes polled by BJP is less than NOTA in 2019 polls" and "dragging Narendra Modi and Amit Shah" which were not only insipid, insidious but smacks of arrogance. It is high time, men in official positions follow protocol strictly to set a good example to others instead of been sulky hurting the sentiments of followers of a particular faith.
K R Srinivasan, Secunderabad