In a stinging attack on Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy in the context of temple and idol desecration, TDP president and former CM N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday said that he is a "betrayer of Hindus." Demanding an explanation from Reddy and a CBI probe, the former CM asked as to why has he not visited the temple till now to express solidarity, while also pointing out that such religious intolerance has increased in Andhra Pradesh under YSRCP government. Naidu made the comments during his visit to the Ramateertham temple, and also alleged that CM Reddy was a Christian, and therefore not a single accused person has been arrested so far.
Naidu said, "Jagan Reddy may be a Christian. But thinking that he can use this power to converts Hindus is wrong. If people in power resort to religious conversions, it amounts to betrayal. One should not show such religious intolerance. 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan resounds in Ayodhya’s Ram temple. Similarly, Ramateertham Rama temple has always been held in high respect in North Andhra. In such a temple, miscreants have vandalised Lord Rama idol but the government was not taking any steps to catch the culprits."
A 400-year-old idol of Lord Rama at the Sri Rama Swamy Devasthanam in Vizianagaram district and Lord Subrahmanya Swamy's idol in Lord Vigneshwara temple of Rajahmundry district were found in a desecrated condition, bringing the Jagan Mohan-led Andhra government under fierce criticism. While Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan has demanded a CBI probe, BJP's state in-charge Sunil Deodhar compared the current spate of attacks on temples to the destruction of Goa temples in the 16th century. Terming the vandalization of Lord Ram's idol as "horrific", he claimed that the AP government was tacitly supporting a "particular religion". Moreover, he lambasted the police's failure to catch the culprits.
Amid the uproar over the vandalization, the Andhra Pradesh government squarely placed the blame on a senior TDP leader. According to a government memo dated January 2, former Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has been sacked as the Chairman of the Trust board for not only the shrine where the vandalization took place but also the Sri Pyditalli Ammavari Devasthanam and the Sri Mandeswara Swamy Temple. This action has been taken in accordance with Section 28 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act. Alleging that he failed to discharge his "legitimate duties", Raju has been accused of neglecting the security aspects of the temple in connection with the vandalization of Lord Ram's idol.