Jagan answers criticism over temple vandalism with bhumi pujan for 9 temples
In an apparent bid to silence his critics over the vandalization of Hindu temples and desecration of idols recently, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, on Friday, performed a ceremony for the reconstruction of nine major temples in Vijayawada that were demolished during the previous Telugu Desam Party regime.
As if to counter the opposition parties, which sought to link his Christian faith to his government’s alleged failure to prevent the attacks on Hindu temples, Jagan performed the ‘Bhumi Pujan’ ceremony of the Sri Seethamma Vari Padalu (Sita’s feet) temple on the banks of Krishna river.
Wearing a traditional Hindu attire of silk ‘dhoti’ and ‘uttareeyam’ (scarf) and sporting a ‘tilak’ on his forehead, Jagan laid the foundation stone for the temple amidst chanting of Vedic hymns. He also unveiled another plaque for the construction of Shaneeshwara Swamy temple close by.
Later, the chief minister visited goddess Kanaka Durga Temple atop Indrakeeladri hill in Vijayawada and launched eight development projects worth Rs 77 crore from inside the temple premises. After having a ‘darshan’ of the goddess, he received Veda Asheerwachanam (Vedic blessings) from the temple priests, before unveiling the annual calendar of endowments department.
Several ministers, AP Brahmin Corporation Chairman Malladi Vishnu, other MLAs, endowments secretary Girija Shankar and others were present.
According to official figures, as many as 40 temples and two Muslim religious structures were demolished, all along the Krishna river near Vijayawada, by the then Chandrababu Naidu government for road widening during the Krishna Pushkarams held in 2016. The demolitions triggered a lot of protests from Hindu groups at that time.
Now, the Jagan government took the decision to reconstruct nine major temples, out of these 40, in the wake of large scale protests from the TDP, BJP and various Hindu groups over the vandalization of temples in the recent past.
The desecration of Lord Rama idol at Ramatirtham temple in Vizianagaram district on the night of December 28 triggered a nation-wide outrage, landing the government in an embarrassing situation and forcing it to order a CID inquiry.
On Thursday night, the government issued an order constituting a state-level eight-member communal harmony committee with the chief secretary as its chairman and the director general of police as its vice-chairman. The panel would monitor the security at all religious structures and monuments, besides, formulating an action plan to ensure communal harmony, among other things.
Similar communal harmony committees will also be constituted at the district-level, headed by respective district collectors.
Meanwhile, the TDP ridiculed Jagan’s move to reconstruct temples and described it as a big drama to divert the people’s attention from the recent attacks on various temples.
TDP general secretary Panchumarthi Anuradha said all the temples demolished during the road widening project were relocated and developed during the TDP regime.
“If the chief minister has so much concern for Hinduism, why did he stall the construction of Lord Venkateshwara Swamy temple by TTD at Amaravati?” she asked.