Two days after IAS officer Anil Kumar Singhal took charge as the new Executive Officer (EO) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), actor-politician Pawan Kalyan has questioned the appointment.
The TTD governs the Lord Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala, which is the richest Hindu temple in the world.
Taking to Twitter, Kalyan said, "I am not against 'North Indian IAS' officials taking charge of TTD, but would they allow any south Indian to take up an administrative position of a sacred shrine in north India?"
Listing holy places to Hindus in north India, like Amarnath, Varanasi and Mathura, Kalyan said, "When they don't allow south Indians to head it, why should south Indians accept this?"
"I wonder how the TDP and honourable Chief Minister allowed this to happen. They owe an explanation to AP and the people of the south," Kalyan concluded.
According to reports, Singhal is the 25th TTD EO and had earlier worked as a Resident Commissioner in Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in New Delhi. He will hold the chief post for the next two years.
When contacted, a TTD official told TNM that they did not wish to comment on the issue.
But a TDP MP criticised the actor-politician, saying he is â€śsimply dividing them for no reason.â€ť
"Why is he always pointing at the north-south divide? The person who is appointed is our (Andhra) IAS officer and that's how we should look at it,â€ť said TDP MP from Anantapur, JC Diwakar Reddy.
â€śWe had a south Indian in-charge before this, and our new appointment is also a capable officer. What Pawan Kalyan is saying is not correct. We have lots of north Indians and south Indians in the state. Simply dividing them for no reason, is not right. He should understand that," he added.
The tweet by Pawan Kalyan is the latest in a long line of divisive comments made by the Jana Sena chief, who has repeatedly pointed fingers at north Indian politicians for the countryâ€™s north-south divide.
Last month, Kalyan tweeted, "If the Centre doesn't respect the subnational identity in a country like ours, which is known for its cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity, then they are creating a fertile breeding grounds for separatist movements... North Indian political leadership should understand & respect the cultural diversity of our country."
Taking to Twitter on April 13, he had appealed to all south Indian political parties to join hands and fight the "biased attitude" of north Indian leadership.
In January this year, Pawan told a news channel that, â€śThe north-south divide is not between people but political class. Same rule has to be applied all over. What we all in southern India feel, is that there is a political elite class of Delhi who want to run the entire country. People are rebelling against that thought."