Newly-appointed Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), Putta Sudhakar Yadav, courted controversy and had to publicly declare that he was Hindu in front of reporters, after reports on social media suggested that he followed Christianity.
Speaking to reporters in Vijayawada, Sudhakar accused the BJP and YSRCP of running a 'malicious campaign' against him, adding that he had personally spent a lot of money on reviving temples in Andhra Pradesh's Kadapa district.
Sudhakar said that he had participated in a bull race programme in a village in Kadapa district, following which reports suggested that he was a Christian and encouraged religious conversions.
The TTD Chairman said that he participated in a Christian function in his capacity as a politician and not as a result of his personal faith.
Dismissing the claims, he told reporters, “I am 100% Hindu. Never in the past did anyone think of giving the post to a member of the Yadava community. One should never forget the Sannidhi Golla tradition at Lord Venkateswara Temple atop Tirumala. The Chief Minister has honoured the Yadava community by making a person belonging to it as the chairman of TTD."
Thanking Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his son and TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh, Sudhakar also dismissed allegations that he got the job as he was a relative of state Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu.
“I will strive to develop Tirumala and provide better facilities to the common man,” he told the media.
This is not the first time that the religion of TTD employees has come into question.
In February this year, employees who were issued notices for their ‘non-Hindu’ faith, moved the Hyderabad High Court, challenging the guidelines of one of the richest religious bodies in the world.
Urging the court to intervene in the matter, around 44 Muslim and Christian employees accused the TTD of bowing to pressures from some Hindu organisations.
The controversy of TTD employees practicing other faith was triggered off last year, following the viral video of a TTD official visiting and praying at a local church. The official was later identified as Deputy Executive Officer of TTD, Sneha Latha.
Following this, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad appealed the custodians of the temple to identify employees from other faith and sack them