HYDERABAD: Lord Balaji standing tall on top of the seven hills in Tirumala is the most revered God and the temple most flocked by Telugu devotees since several decades. The trend has been continuing even now after the state’s bifurcation.
Though Tirumala is geographically located in AP, people from Telangana show the same zeal to visit the temple and seek blessings of Lord Balaji, more than any other temple in their own state. However, devotees who decide to visit Tirumala all of a sudden or those planning the trip a few weeks in advance, banking on VIP recommendation letters, are being left disappointed, especially in Telangana. Such letters are not being honoured by the temple staff, especially whenever there is huge rush of pilgrims in Tirumala.
Unlike the previous government in the combined state, the TD administration has instructed the TTD Board to regulate darshans, based on VIP recommendation letters, including those given by the ministers and bureaucrats. On special days, holidays and during weekends, recommendation letters of key functionaries in AP government are being screened strictly so one can understand the fate of letters given by neighbouring Telangana state.
Peshi staff of a TS minister said that they have huge pressure regarding recommendation letters for Tirumala. “Each minister is not giving more than one recommendation letter per day. On some occasions, when an additional letter is given, it is not being honoured. So we are maintaining a diary and noting down the dates on which a letter has been given already, to avoid confusion. Also, recommendation letter is not being given for public holidays, special days and on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). There would be rush on these days and there is no guarantee if recommendations will work on such days,” an official said.
Only recommendation letters from the Assembly Speaker, Council Chairman, bureaucrats in TS government are being accepted and that too, when there is no rush in Tirumala.
With TS becoming a separate state, the ministers and legislators from different districts of TS now have limited access to the TTD Board, the highest body that oversees temple affairs, unlike in the combined state when even a legislator from any district of Telangana used to use his office to get darshan tickets for relatives, friends and well wishers.
TRS MLA Guvvala Balraju said that TTD stopped honouring recommendation letters given by legislators from Telangana, which he felt was a discrimination. He said that people from the constituencies are approaching respective MLAs for a recommendation letter to have a hassle free darshan.
“Our recommendation letters are not being accepted unlike in the combined state. So we have stopped issuing such letters on the whole. Why to make public suffer when temple staff is not accepting our letters at all,” he said.
Government sources said that even Ministers faced the same situation for some time after bifurcation, but after the higher authorities were briefed about the displeasure among Telangana Cabinet on this issue, the situation changed. Now one recommendation per Minister is being accepted....