YSRCP MLA RK Roja on Saturday slammed Tirumala joint endowments officer (JEO) KS Srinivas Raju after she was denied a VIP ticket.
Roja had arrived at the holy town, after she completed her 88-km padayatra from from Satravada locality in Nagari Municipality, demanding early completion of the Galeru-Nagari Sujala Sravanthi (GNSS) water project. After being denied VIP ticket, Roja had to stand in the general queue for the darshan of the deity at the Sri Venkateswara temple.
"All of us had come here and were forced to go on a general ticket. I'm not saying it’s wrong, as we are a party that has come up from the people. We are glad to go along with the people," Roja told reporters.
"However, nowadays without protocol, some people are getting more than 10 VIP tickets, while people's representatives like us, are made to go in with a general ticket," she added.
She also alleged that the JEO had converted the holy place into a business centre, and she would file a plea under the Right to Information Act (RTI) and expose irregularities in the temple's administration.
“The existing JEO is continuing in the same position for last 7 years by lobbying and carrying briefcases to government officials. Whenever people come from North India, he will do watchman duty. The previous EO, Samba Siva Rao had cut down the JEO's irregularities and misuse of power. He again started to misuse his power.” she added.
This is not the first controversy to take place at the Tirumala temple in recent times.
Last month, it was revealed that an internal rift was taking place between 'archakas' or priests and administrators of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD).
The TTD is an administrative body that governs the richest Hindu temple in the world, and oversees 60,000-80,000 devotees every day, for which it employs hundreds of officials and priests.
At the centre of the controversy is chief priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu, who entered the Mahadwaram (special entrance to the temple) a few months ago, along with his son, Kumara Venkata Deekshitulu, an archaka and his grandson, despite them both not being permitted.
(Roja meets Deekshitulu on Saturday)
The controversy is being seen as a clash between the archakas, who are seen as messengers of tradition and hold hereditary appointments in high regard, and the IAS officers/administrators who function like a mini-government to ensure that protocol is maintained.