Andhra Pradesh

VIP darshan at Tirumala, by any other name, is a VIP darshan

The decision by YV Subba Reddy, the Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) appointed by the YSR Congress government to abolish List I, List II and List III darshans was seen as a move in the right direction. That’s because the list darshan was a discriminatory procedure adopted by the previous administration to segregate pilgrims in order of importance and stature. 

Also read : All about YV Subba Reddy

L1 included ministers, MPs, MLAs, judges while government officials came under the L2 category. L3 category included all those who managed the much-sought after recommendation letter from either the Chief Minister or Endowments minister’s office or had a connection with a member of the TTD. These devotees would need to stand for a lesser time in the queues and could stay for a while longer in front of the sanctum sanctorum unlike the regular pilgrims whose darshan time typically would not exceed a couple of seconds. 

The problem was everyone aspired to move up the order, preferably into L1 and lobbied accordingly. This meant only the affluent and the politically well-connected could get a decent darshan of the Lord. 

Read : Branding Jagan as Jagananna

But now comes the twist in the tale. Reddy has clarified that protocol darshan will continue which essentially means the List Category darshan has been replaced by a new nomenclature.

“This does not mean we are not respecting the VIPs who include Judges, ministers, officials. Protocol darshan will be taken care of,” says Subba Reddy. 

Umesh Chandra who had filed the PIL in the Andhra Pradesh High court in March this year, demanding the abolition of the List category darshan system says Reddy is not empowered to take the call.

“It is the TTD Board that has to pass such a resolution, abolishing List category darshan. It has to be then tabled before the court since it is seized of the matter. Moreover, to say protocol darshan will be introduced is grossly unconstitutional. We are arguing that the character of privileged darshan itself should go, it violates fundamental rights,” says Umesh Chandra. 

The TTD Board is yet to be constituted. With representation on the Board given to nominees from different states, aspirants are moving heaven and earth and political connections to get themselves a seat on it. 

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