A controversy has erupted in Andhra Pradesh over the religion of former MP YV Subba Reddy, who is also Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's maternal uncle. With the YSRCP planning to nominate Subba Reddy as the Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Trust Board, many took to social media to suggest that the senior politician, like his nephew, was a devout Christian.
"Is the Jagan appointee, YV Subba Reddy, TTD Chairman a converted Christian? If so, it's back stabbing," wrote one user. "YV Subba Reddy, the uncle of Chief Minister, Jagan Mohan Reddy is going to be appointed as TTD Chairman. What is going on? Would a Church/Vatican appoint a Hindu as its Chairman of the board? Why there is a need for Christian leadership to a Hindu temple?" another asked.
Many also circulated a screenshot of an undated news clipping from The Hans India, where it was reported that Subba Reddy participated in prayers at a church in Tangatur, where he allegedly said that 'everyone should take the path of Jesus'.
â€” Senthil Kumar (@SivasamySenthil) June 6, 2019
New Chairman of TTD says -â€” Dharmendra Chhonkar (@dharmbjp) June 6, 2019
" Everyone should follow the path of Christianity ""
His name is YV Subba Reddy , Jagan Uncle .
People says- he too is converted Christian..
When SC says Hindu temple to be run by Hindus , why this appointment @ysjagan ? pic.twitter.com/fB7iDBnEkB
Lot of people tagging me on appointment of TTD (Tirupati Temple) Chairman & they are hurt and angry.â€” Ishkaran Singh Bhandari (@Ish_Bhandari) June 6, 2019
The solution is getting Temple free from Govt control & @Swamy39 petition for that is currently being heard in High Court.
Y V Subba Reddy, the uncle of Chief Minister, Jagan Mohan Reddy is going to be appointed as TTD Chairman. What is going on? Would a Church/Vattican appoint an Hindu as its chairman of the board? Why there is a need for Christian leadership to an Hindu temple? @Swamy39 @Gopalee67â€” Sampath Varadarajan (@Lightscribbling) June 7, 2019
The row over Subbu Reddyâ€™s faith also played out on his Wikipedia page as users added a 'religion' section to his profile. Prior to the controversy, Subba Reddy's Wikipedia page was a 'stub' and only had three lines. With a reported 95 users editing and re-editing it to suggest that he was a 'converted Christian' and a Hindu alternatively, it seems that Wikipedia has locked the page for guest users and restored it to its original.
Meanwhile, Subba Reddy has strongly denied the allegation in an interview with local Telugu media outlet TV9, saying, "I was born a Hindu and I will die a Hindu. These allegations and smear campaign against me hurt me deeply."
"Every year, I go to Sabarimala and every few months, I go to Shirdi. Tell those who are spreading such news to visit my residences in Hyderabad or Ongole. Let them see what kind of rituals we do. There is no merit to that baseless rumour," he said, before pulling out a pendant of Sri Venkateswara and showing it to the camera.
"Jagan put in a request asking if I could serve as TTD Chairman for some days and later go to the Rajya Sabha as the elections were still some time away. I take this responsibility as my fortune. I am very fortunate to serve Sri Venkateswara and to ensure that all devotees who visit the holy shrine are able to get their 'darshan' smoothly," he added.
Even as the row gradually abated, with many tagging BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Twitter, it also elicited a response from the MP. Swamy said that Subba Reddy was a 'Pucca' Hindu.
: Subba Reddy is a Pucca Hindu.â€” Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) June 7, 2019
A similar controversy had erupted in 2018 after present TTD Chairman Putta Sudhakar Yadav, who was appointed by the TDP, had to publicly declare that he was Hindu in front of reporters, after rumours on social media suggested that he followed Christianity. Yadav was forced to clarify that he had earlier participated in a Christian function in his capacity as a politician and not as a result of his personal faith.
The TTD, which governs the Sri Venkateswara Temple atop Tirumala in the state, consists of IAS officers, administrators and political appointees, who coordinate with archakas (priests) and oversee the richest Hindu temple in the world.
As per the norm, TDP appointees to the board will have to resign and fresh faces will be picked by the YSRCP as it has formed the government. The Chairman's post comes with a lot of perks. Besides being a state Cabinet rank, the appointee also gets to rub shoulders with top politicians and VIPs like Governors, judges and businessmen.