As various political parties are gearing up to campaign for the upcoming Tirupati parliamentary bye-election, Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan visited the Tirumala Venkateswara temple on Friday. For the past few weeks, politics in Andhra Pradesh has been centred on the issue of alleged attacks on Hindu places of worship, with TDP, BJP and its ally Jana Sena Party accusing the ruling YSRCP of assuming an indifferent attitude towards alleged temple attacks. The issue has been stoked ahead of the upcoming bye-election in the constituency which is home to one of the biggest Hindu temples in the world. Addressing the media after his temple visit, Pawan Kalyan reiterated the stance that the YSRCP government has not taken satisfactory actions against alleged attacks on Hindu temples.
When asked about recent comments made by Telangana BJP president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar â who had asked voters of Andhra Pradesh if they would vote for those who follow the Bhagavad Gita or the Bible, alluding to Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddyâs faith â Pawan Kalyan said, âI cannot divide society in such a way. I myself cannot say such things. Gita, Bible, Quran, all are godâs words.â However, he went on to defend Bandi Sanjay, saying, âI don't know in what context Bandi Sanjay said those words. Maybe he was pained by the series of temple attacks, and when he saw the YSRCP acting with indifference, maybe in retaliation, he said such words. But if people at such a level really feel that way inside, the world wouldn't be like this.â
Commenting on the perception that the BJP has sidelined the Jana Sena Party and doesnât give it much importance, Pawan Kalyan said, âI have a strong relationship with national leaders (of BJP). At the state level, that understanding was probably missing âŚ Soon, we will decide who will contest (in Tirupati). Whoever contests, like the GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation) elections, this election will also be considered very prestigious. We must show Andhra Pradesh that this (BJP and Jana Sena) is a serious alternative.â
He also declared that he was donating Rs 30 lakh towards the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Pawan Kalyan also said that he refrained from visiting Ramatheertham â a village in Vizianagaram district where the vandalisation of a Lord Rama idol has reignited the issue of temple attacks â as he did not want to stoke emotions and trigger violence against innocent members of non-Hindu religions as a result. TDP and BJP leaders had visited Ramatheertham and held protests following the vandalisation incident, accusing the YSRCP government of failing to protect Hindu temples.
Pawan Kalyan alleged that the government had adopted feudalistic behaviour, and was not operating like a democracy. He also said that the government had failed to provide sufficient employment opportunities for young people in Rayalaseema region. He also commented on the arrest of a Christian preacher named Praveen, who has been booked by the CID for making provocative statements offensive to members of another religion. âIn the case of the pastor who claimed to have destroyed idols, action was delayed, and no strict action has been taken,â Pawan Kalyan said. However, the state CID on Thursday said that they are investigating the case to ascertain Praveenâs statements regarding conversion of villages to âChristâ villages, and destroying idols, and said that the investigation has been going âon a proper line.â