Traditional temple

The foundation stone for Ramatheertham temple in Andhra laid amid political feud

After an incident of temple vandalism sparked statewide protests last year, the YSRCP government sanctioned Rs 3 crore for reconstruction work.

Tensions reigned Wednesday, December 23 at the Ramatheertham temple in the Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, when former Union Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju reportedly attempted to remove the plaque installed to lay the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the temple. Ashok, a temple administrator, and other Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders argued with YSRCP officials and leaders. The incident happened minutes before the cornerstone laying ceremony on Ramatheertham Hill near Vizianagaram.

The temple made the news in December last year after unidentified people vandalized an idol of Lord Rama, sparking massive protests from opposition parties accusing the YSRCP government of inaction against an alleged increase in attacks against the Hindu temples of the state. At the time, the YSRCP government refused to accept Ashok’s donation of Rs 1 lakh for the reconstruction of the temple.

Deputy Chief Minister Pushpa Srivani, Minister of Endowments Vellampalli Srinivas and others then laid the foundation stone for the temple on December 22.

Ashok, a member of the TDP politburo, was apparently annoyed that he had not been informed in advance of the plaque-laying ceremony according to temple standards, and of the names appearing on the foundation plaque and his name being written at the bottom of it. He alleged that the state government ignored protocol and violated tradition and culture. He said the temple committee was not consulted before deciding on the foundation stone ceremony. Ashok’s family had functioned as the hereditary trustee of the temple for 400 years.

Ashok also declined the invitation to crack the coconut during the ceremony. He argued that only the trustee was supposed to perform the puja and lay the foundation stone.

Meanwhile, ministers of state criticized the leader of the TDP for creating a ruckus at the temple. Endowment Minister Vellampalli Srinivas reiterated that the state government is committed to developing the Ramatheertham temple.

The minister said Ashok Gajapathi Raju created chaos by forcibly removing the plaque engraved with the names of the minister and government officials, in accordance with protocol. He said the latter wanted to donate under a clause allowing it to be used for idols, but officials refused because the idols are offered free of charge by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD).

The minister said the TDP leader intentionally “went wild” despite being officially invited by the temple’s executive head and other officials to the cornerstone laying ceremony. He said action would be taken against Ashok. He alleged that the temple had been deeply neglected under the previous government and asked Raju about what he had done for the development of Ramatheertham all these years.

“Mansas Trust looted government land and neglected temple development, which is why the state government sanctioned Rs 3 crore for the Ramatheertham temple,” he said, adding that the government had installed new idols and sanctioned Rs 1 crore for development. works.

Meanwhile, Minister of Municipal Administration Botsa Satyanarayana challenged Ashok Gajapati Raju to answer why the government had to sanction 3 crore rupees while the development of the Ramatheertham temple fell under the Mansas Trust and why he did not spend money from the Mansas Trust for temple development.