Furious devotees want CM to preserve Tirupati sanctity

People visit Tirupati Devasthanam on the occasion of New Year 2020 in Chennai Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Furious over the sleazy tapes episode involving Sri Venkateshwara Bhakti Channel chairman, devotees and Hindu temple conservation advocates are demanding the Andhra Pradesh government and the Tirupati temple trust to appoint a virtuous person in such eminent positions attached with the believer sentiments.

Balireddy Prudhviraj, a popular comedian in Telugu films has resigned from the post of the channel chairman and director on Sunday evening, after an audiotape of a phone conversation allegedly between him and a female employee of the channel surfaced and went viral on social media.

Prudhviraj is a staunch supporter of the YSRCP and after Jaganmohan Reddy came to power last year May, the actor was made the SVBC chairman in July.

In the audio, a voice allegedly of Prudhviraj enquires with the female employee if she had dinner and if he was in her thoughts when she is on her bed. He expresses love for her and even describes how he controlled his desire to hug her in the office.

“A person elevated to a high stature should learn to honour that position. We request the CM to be careful with the appointments in the temple boards and other such spiritual institutions. While the CM is free to appoint his party men to such posts, we appeal him to ensure those men are righteous and deserving for such chairs. We hope the Hindu sentiments are respected,” Professor DAR Subramanyam, convenor of Hindu Temples Protection Committee.

SVBC employees termed the episode obnoxious and very embarrassing for the TTD. The call for Prudhviraj’s resignation came from Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy, after TTD chairman YV Subba Reddy took the matter to him. The CM was said to be piqued already by Prudhviraj’s comments a few days back, likening the agitating Amaravati farmers to paid artists.

On the other side, denying the voice as his own, Prudhviraj said the tapes are doctored, “to stem his growth.” He said he will return to SVBC after the vigilance wing probe absolves him. “If guilty, I am ready for any punishment,” the actor told presspersons.

Kandarapu Murali, honorary president of the SVBC employees union, who revealed the tapes to the media, said, “Prudhviraj is seeking sexual favours from women employees enticing them with pay hikes, permanent posts. We had received several other complaints of harassment, irresponsible behaviour from him.”    

Prof Subramanyam told DH that he is launching a postcard campaign, asking people to write to the CM to preserve the sanctity of the TTD and such other temple positions.

The SVBC is a hugely popular channel in Telugu, Kannada and Tamil languages telecasting the live proceedings of Tirupati temple activities and various spiritual programmes.

Appointment of film personalities is not new in SVBC. The earlier Chandrababu Naidu government had famous Telugu film director K Raghavendra Rao as the channel’s head.

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