Amid reports of attacks on temples and Hindu religious idols in Andhra Pradesh, TDP national president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday accused the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government of intolerance and demanded that the chief minister step down citing failure to prevent such attacks. Naidu slammed the state government for delay in action over desecration of Lord Ram’s idol at Ramateertham temple in Vizianagaram.
“Jagan Reddy is a Christian chief minister. I am not finding fault in that. He has his own beliefs. I believe in Venkateswara Swamy. But such attacks should not be allowed on other religions. Jagan has no right to continue as the chief minister even for a minute as he has failed to prevent these attacks,” he said. Naidu was addressing the state general body meeting of TDP at NTR Bhavan in Hyderabad.
Taking on the Jagan government, Naidu asked, “Why did the ruling YSRCP fail to take immediate action in the Ramatheertham desecration incident?”
Alleging over 140 incidents of vandalism, he further questioned the state’s inaction and said, “Even now, another incident took place at Singarayakonda in Prakasam district. The Swamivari idol at Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple was also disfigured. The government and the police were more interested in filing cases against the opposition leaders rather than nabbing the actual culprits. Not a single accused person was arrested when over 140 incidents of desecration and vandalism took place.”
He further accused the chief minister of misusing his position to promote conversions and said, “This was a blatant violation of the Constitution. Who gave the authority to Jaganmohan Reddy to carry on this and hurt the sentiments of other religions? Everybody is entitled to their own faith and belief under the Constitution.”
Alleging that devotees were being approached and induced during their visits to temples, Naidu said, “A deputy chief minister extended his Christmas greetings at the Tirumala temple. Christmas celebrations were held at the police station.”
Hitting out at Jagan Mohan Reddy, the TDP chief said, “The CM has taken an oath while joining the office. He should rise above the considerations of caste and religion. All communities and sections should be treated equally. The TDP has been silent on the omissions of the YSRCP regime but it would not spare the ruling party any longer.”
Naidu accused the chief minister of resorting to religion-based vote bank politics and alleged that Rs 5,000 honorarium was being paid to the pastors. “This is going on even though they belong to the scheduled castes and are enjoying the benefits of reservation. The government cannot give honorarium to them.”
“Churches are being used for YSRCP’s vote bank politics. A close vigil should be placed on the new churches coming up in villages and who were behind them. The TDP was not against anybody’s belief but it was determined to firmly fight back the injustices and atrocities on any religion.”
Naidu deplored the response of the government and its officials to the desecration of Lord Ram’s idol at Ramatheertham and said that prompt action should have been taken. “The CM, the Home Minister, the DGP and even the district SP are all Christians. They should have taken prompt steps to clear doubts among Hindu devotees. But they displayed total negligence. The severed idol head of Rama was traced in the ‘koneru’ sacred tank only after pressure mounted by the TDP,” he said.
The former chief minister also decried “murderous” attacks on the party leaders. He suspected a pattern and a standard modus operandi in the attacks as the cell phones of all the victims were getting lost after the murders.
“Dalit youth Om Pratap of Punganur was killed just for making some frustrated remarks against the YSRCP liquor mafia. His cell phone was not traceable. Nandam Subbaiah was murdered at Proddatur and Puramsetti Ankulu at Pedagarlapadu. Both their cell phones were missing. Cases were filed against JC Prabhakar Reddy just for expressing his democratic protest,” he said.
Naidu went on the attack the chief minister asking if he would be happy only about the Vatican City while deriving sadistic pleasure by destroying Amaravati Capital.
“Jagan Reddy had proved to be a fake CM as he went back on his promise to bring and use ‘Special Category Status’ as a panacea to cure all problems of Andhra Pradesh. In just 19 months, Rs 1.36 lakh crore debt was placed on the people. Also, Rs 70,000 crore tax burden was nearly imposed. For making 2 per cent more loans, the atrocious Jagan regime was fixing meters on farm pumpsets and imposing arbitrary taxes on property in urban areas.”
Meanwhile, the chief minister held discussions with the police officials and district collectors at the Spandana meet at camp office in Tadepalli. He directed the police personnel to stay vigilant and take up an in-depth investigation on the temples that are being targeted by miscreants.
Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged that the temple-related incidents are being falsely propagated by certain sections of the political fraternity with a mala fide intention and such political Guerrilla warfare should be confronted. He has also ordered a CID probe into the Ramateertham temple incident.
The CM claimed the TDP is trying to tarnish the government’s image with such incidents and have now crossed all possible democratic limits. They are spreading caste and religious hatred, he said.
He further assured that the police department is closely monitoring the situation and surveillance has been stepped up at small temples across the state. “Miscreants are also focusing on the temples which do not have CCTVs. We have installed around 36,000 CCTV cameras covering all the temples across the state,” he said. “These people are targeting small temples, located in isolated places and which does not come under the endowment department,” he added.
Alleging a pattern in these temple incidents, the chief minister noted that these incidents were occurring around the time when some prestigious welfare programmes were being launched. “They are trying to divert public attention from government programmes by resorting to such incidents.” The Chief Minister also alleged that yellow media houses, aligned to opposition parties, are creating an uproar in a bid to communally tarnish the government’s image.
BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar on Tuesday threatened protests across Andhra Pradesh by the party until Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered a CID probe into all alleged temple vandalism cases in the state.
“The BJP and Jana Sena Party are not going to stop here; we are going ahead with our statewide agitation until and unless you (CM) order a CID probe for all incidents targeting the Hindus in the state,” said the Andhra Pradesh BJP co-incharge.
With IANS inputs