Advertisement of Jerusalem yatra and Haj pilgrimage on bus tickets in the temple town of Tirupati has sparked a row on Friday, compelling Andhra Pradesh government to order a probe.
State Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas said some of the tickets of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) that were supposed to be issued from Nellore depot have been diverted to Tirupati. He said instructions were given for strict action against the erring officials.
He said Telugu Desam Party and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were trying to level baseless allegations against Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for every small issue with the "help of its friendly media" and trying to create untoward situation.
"We will take action against all those who are purporting the vicious propaganda and trying to blame the state for such sensitive issues," he said.
The minister said it was the previous TDP government which had given the contract for printing of religious material on the backside of the RTC bus tickets.
Condemning the incident, BJP demanded action against those responsible for what it calls hurting the sentiments of Hindus.
BJP leaders and workers staged a protest at the office of the regional manager of APSRTC in Tirupati and raised slogans against the corporation officials. They said the sentiments of Hindus should be respected.
BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar, who is also co-incharge of party affairs in the state, tweeted that the advertisement of Jerusalem yatra for Christians' on Tirumala bus tickets is aunnecessary, unacceptable, communal and insult to Lord Balaji.'
"Is the new slogan of YSRCP Ravali Jesu, Kavali Jesu'?, he asked in an obvious reference to YSRCP's poll slogan aRavali Jagan, Kavali Jagan' (Jagan should come, we need Jagan).
"If this continues, AP people will arrange a permanent family ticket for Jagan for Jerusalem," he said, apparently referring to Jagan and his family's recent visit to Jerusalem.
The advertisements from the minorities department are about the facilities being provided to Christian pilgrims going to Jerusalem and to Muslims undertaking the Haj pilgrimage.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which runs the affairs of Tirumala temple, said there was no wilful publication of any religious matter.
TTD chairman Y. V. Subba Reddy said previous TDP government was responsible for printing the advertisements.
"Severe action will be taken against those involved in this episode and also against those who are spreading false information," he said.