How the Telugu states’ most popular sweet shop financed the Ram Janmabhoomi movement
In this series, we travel back to the turbulent 1990s to see what impact the Ram Janmabhoomi movement had on south India. We found that Karnataka was as enthusiastic then as it is now about militant Hindutva. But the other states in the region weren’t entirely immune to the flames of hate.
A sweets business tycoon from the Telugu states, who was also the all-India treasurer of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) at the time, used his wealth to send kar sevaks to Ayodhya for the demolition of the Babri Masjid and also to finance the Ayodhya legal dispute. He is among the few men from south India credited with actively championing the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in court.
Most Telugu people are familiar with his portrait in the side profile on display boards of the numerous branches of his sweet shop chain. His face, rather like Colonel Sanders’ photo on the KFC logo, is also sometimes plastered on the sweet boxes, which are shipped internationally.