The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the religious body which oversees affairs at the Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala, has said that it would not entertain recommendation letters from politicians for special darshan tickets under the VIP quota as the model code of conduct had come into place after the schedule for elections was announced by the Election Commission of India.
The announcement was made by TTD Joint Executive Officer (JEO) K S Srinivasa Raju who conveyed that the decision was taken by TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal. He also pointed out that similar curbs were put into place ahead of the general elections that took place in 2014.
However, Raju said that the TTD would entertain letters of politicians if the elected representatives arrived for darshan themselves, granted that they did not do any kind of political campaigning in the premises of the temple.
"But there are some who try to visit the Tirumala temple at regular intervals. The TTD will impose curbs if their visits to Tirumala is found to be quite frequent. The TTD appeals to political leaders to refrain from making any political statements in the vicinity of the temple,” the JEO was quoted as saying.
TTD oversees affairs of the richest Hindu temple in the world, which also sees several crore devotees visit Tirumala each year.
Last month, the TTD unveiled a budget of Rs 3,116 crore for 2019-20 and said that it was expected just cash offerings to account for Rs 1,231 crore of the total amount. TTD chairman Putta Sudhakar Yadav said that according to their estimates, the sale of tickets could fetch around Rs 292 crore, while the famed laddu prasadam may help the religious body rake in around Rs 270 crore. According to the TTD's website, every day on an average, about 3 lakh laddus are sold in Tirumala.
During the financial year 2016-17, the TTD said that 2.68 crore devotees visited the shrine and a budget of Rs 2,678 crore was approved.