The Venkateswara temple in Tirumala is in the news in recent months for reasons not related with the presiding deity or the lakhs of devotees who have 'Darshan' every day.
With the temple becoming a political rehabilitation centre, it has acquired all the ills that a flawed political system could offer.
The administrators who constitute the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the board that manages the temple's day-to-day affairs, are nominated as per the wishes of the ruling party.
The political heads generally ignore the suggestions of the 'Agama Mandali', a group of 'Agama Sastra' experts, while short-listing the aspirants. The appointment of Putta Sudhakar Yadav - local reports state he is a Christian - as TTD chairman and V Anitha, a legislator of the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), has tarnished the image of the temple.
Opening up another front against the ruling TDP, former TTD executive officer I Y R Krishna Rao, considered a YSR Congress (YSRC) man, dashed several letters to the Union government alleging corruption and utter disregard of 'Agama' rituals by the TTD.
Soon, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) sent a letter asking TTD to submit details of the temples under its management so that it can take over the task of maintaining them. A rattled TDP then attacked the Centre for trying to take over the administration of Tirumala temple through the ASI. Within hours, the letter was withdrawn and the regional head at Amaravati was transferred to Bengaluru.
But the local BJP and the YSRCP leaders backed people who wrote to the Centre, saying that it was the TDP government under Naidu that took the decision to dismantle the 'Thousand Pillar Mandapam' against the advice of the 'Jeeyars'.
However, they are silent over the controversial Government Order issued by the then Y S Rajasekhara Reddy government stating that there are only two hills and not seven hills in Tirumala, contradicting the general belief. Also, Reddy, during his tenure as chief minister, appointed an atheist, Bhumana Karunakara Reddy, as TTD chairman.
The TDP is backing the demand for promoting 'archakas' (priests) waiting in the wings while the YSRCP is supporting Dr A V Ramana Deekshitulu’s argument that there should be no age limit. Deekshitulu was once served a notice for conducting 'Sudarshana Homam' for Reddy, when he was chief minister, and his son Jaganmohan.
With the election year fast approaching, none of the political parties are willing to let the ongoing slugfest to subside. With the BJP and YSRCP also demanding a probe against Naidu, Deekshitulu’s call for a CBI probe into the TTD's affairs has politics written all over it.