The Tirumala temple has a custom since 1933 that all non-Hindu visitors should sign a form declaring that though he is a non-Hindu, he believes in Lord Venkateswara. The practice has been made more or less mandatory since 1960, as per Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) sources.
Jagan is on tour at Tirupati ahead of the June 12 bypoll there and reportedly entered the temple through the Vaikuntam Queue Complex-I in the morning along with a slew of followers for darshan. Prominent among those who accompanied him were former TTD chairman and YSR Congress Tirupati candidate Bhumana Karunakar Reddy and former TTD trust board ex-officio member Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy.
The TTD officials asked the followers to communicate to Jagan on the need to sign the declaration. It is understood that Jagan refused to sign the declaration.
There was a crowd of supporters and protestors outside the temple. The matter has acquired political colour with supporters of Telugu Desam President N Chandrababu Naidu fanning the issue.
TTD executive officer LV Subramanyam said the TTD had completed all formalities for obtaining the necessary declaration from the Kadapa MP, but in spite of it he refused to sign. He added, “He (Jagan) told our employees that he need not sign the document now as he had already signed one in 2009 when he came for the darshan of Lord Venkateswara for the first time and that the rule does not apply to second-time visitors.” An inquiry has now been ordered whether a non-Hindu visitor needs to sign the declaration form everytime he visits the temple.
Tirupati YSRCP candidate B Karunakar Reddy, who had earlier served as the TTD trust board chairman, in reply to the allegations said, “Did they ask for such a declaration from AICC chief Sonia Gandhi when she came for darshan here.”