Christian MLA on TTD Trust Board spurs row

The appointment of Payakaraopet legislator Vangalapudi Anita, allegedly a born Christian, as a member on the newly constituted Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Trust Board has kicked up a row with a video of her confirming her lineage going viral on Saturday.

The Andhra Pradesh government, which reconstituted the board almost one year after the term of the previous Trust Board ended, has been facing heat from the right wing organisations for appointing Putta Sudhakar Yadav as its chairman. It is alleged that Yadav has attended several Christian religious programmes, making him unfit to head an organisation meant for protecting and spreading Hindu Dharma.

Vangalapudi Anita, who was elected from an SC reserved constituency on Telugu Desam ticket, in a video is seen stating that she married a Hindu, hence became a Hindu. “But I am a Christian. I always keep a Bible in my bag and also in my car all the time. I may be talking about religion as I am married to a Hindu. But I am a Christian," she said in an interview to a channel.

Weightage to party

Rattled by her revelation, several Hindu groups, including the state BJP unit, have demanded that Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu must reconstitute the TTD Trust Board with members who have faith in Sanatana Dharma. "The state government generally does a background check when it appoints new members. In this case, the CM seems to have given weightage to the party she belonged to," former TTD Board member Bhanu Prakash Reddy charged. He said that there are many persons, who have faith in Lord Venkateswara, eagerly waiting to serve the temple.

Bandi Sanjay, Telangana BJP leader, expressing similar sentiments alleged that the AP CM has become a puppet in the hands of those conspiring to convert Hindus to Christianity. The Viswa Hindu Parishat Telangana unit also demanded that Naidu's government must appoint religious scholars who are aware of Agama Sastras to the temple committee rather than non-Hindu legislators like Anita.     

This is not a first that non-Hindus are occupying positions in the management of one of the richest temples in the world. In January, the TTD was forced to re-locate 45 non-Hindu employees, who were on its payrolls, to other government departments.

The TTD issued “show cause notices leading to termination”, after a video of one of the TTD employees Swarnalatha visiting a church in her official TTD car and praying there, went viral. However, the row died down after the non-Hindu employees, who got employment through certain provisions in the GO concerned, secured relief from the High Court.

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