An inscription of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's face on one of the pillars of the state's famous Yadadri temple has riled the opposition and triggered a major row in the state. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress alleged that KCR was trying to portray himself as a god. The pillars were being readied as part of renovation of Telangana's biggest temple.
Raja Singh, the lone BJP member in the Telangana Assembly, tweeted the pictures of the pillars with KCR's images inscribed on them and alleged that the Chief Minister's statues were being carved in the temple. "KCR projecting himself as god. If the statues are not removed, the people of Telangana know how to remove them," he said.
In a video, Singh also alleged that a 'car', symbol of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), was also carved on the pillars. A photo of the same also did the rounds on social media later in the day.
Terming it a shameful act, the BJP legislator said KCR should apologise to the people. "The temple is not property of any party. You are not developing it from your money. It's people's money," he said.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Yadgirigutta is the biggest temple in the state and is often called Telangana's Tirupati. After formation of Telangana, KCR renamed Yadgirigutta as Yadadri and announced a Rs 1,800 crore plan to develop the hill temple.
Taking on the Chief Minister, Congress leader Gudur Narayana Reddy said KCR was trying to portray himself as a 'demi god'. Getting pictures inscribed on pillars of the temple was highly condemnable, he said, and added that the Yadadri temple was being renovated with public money and not KCR's personal wallet.
"He (KCR) must realise that he is just a public representative and not a king. No one can tamper with the sanctity of temples and equate themselves with gods," he said. On inscription of TRS poll symbol car, he said, "This is absolutely unconstitutional and an attempt to mix religion with politics."
The Congress leader alleged that KCR had spent crores of public money to honour the wishes he made at various temples and other religious places.
"While it's not wrong to be religious, such expenditure should be done from personal purse and not with public money," Narayana Reddy said and demanded that the entire money spent on religious ceremonies by KCR and his family should be reimbursed to the public exchequer.
"KCR is just an ordinary human being and a politician who is facing serious allegations of corruption. He can't misuse his position as the Chief Minister to present himself as a demi-god,” Narayana Reddy said.
Pictures of former Indian Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were also found carved on the temple's pillars, besides that of Mahatma Gandhi.
In a press meet held late on Friday, Yadadri Temple Development Authority (YTDA) vice-chairman and CEO G Kishan Rao and temple architect Anand Sai defended the move and said that there was no pressure from the state government.
"Any temple that you visit, you will find symbols that reflect the culture of society of that particular time period. This is no different," Kishan Rao told reporters, adding, "It is not correct to attribute the carving of the car to any political party. It is only to tell future generations that such a thing existed. We even have a cycle (TDP's symbol) and a lotus (BJP's symbol) there, what about that?"
Speaking to reporters, Anand Sai said that the sculptors involved in the project, carved KCR's face out of admiration for the Chief Minister, and denied any political motive to it.
Meanwhile, the TRS has decided to remain largely silent over the controversy.