BJP protests over non-Hindu pilgrimage ads on bus tickets in Tirupati

Tirupati: Bus tickets carrying advertisements of Jerusalem yatra and Haj pilgrimage issued to devotees proceeding to the famous Lord Venkateswara temple at nearby Tirumala triggered a protest by the BJP here on Friday against the State-run transport corporation.

As a controversy broke out over the issue, Endowment Minister Vellampalli Srinivas said the tickets were not meant for Tirupati and an inquiry has been ordered. The BJP workers raised slogans and staged a sit-in at the office of the Regional Manager of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC).

Later, they submitted a letter seeking a detailed probe into the matter and sought stringent action against those involved in the distribution of the tickets. Reacting to the issue, Andhra Pradesh Endowment Minister Vellampalli Srinivas said the tickets meant for Nellore in the State were printed during the previous TDP regime for promotion of pilgrimage of other religions under a government-sponsored scheme.

A probe was ordered into the issue, he said in a press release adding those responsible would be identified and punished. BJP State Secretary G Bhanu Prakash Reddy told PTI it was not good on the part of APSRTC to issue bus tickets carrying advertisements of other religions to the visiting devotees of Lord Venkateswara here and sought a detailed probe.

In Telangana, BJP’s lone MLA Raja Singh condemned the issuance of the tickets and urged Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy to take action against those responsible. “… As per rules, any campaign about non-Hindu religions cannot be done at a revered place like Tirupati.. I ask Jagan Mohan Reddy ji to take action against those who committed this,” a report from Hyderabad quoted him as having said in a video message.

The over 2,000-year-old Lord Venkateswara shrine in Tirumala is a major pilgrim centre for Hindus and draws lakhs of devotees throughout the year from across the country and abroad. The APSRTC alone operates buses to Tirumala from Tirupati.