The List darshan system in vogue at the Tirumala temple was always controversial as it was seen as discriminatory, segregated pilgrims in order of perceived importance and stature and was loaded in favour of the VIP devotee. The first thing the new Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) YV Subba Reddy did after assuming charge, was to abolish the system.
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 queue 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.
T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi spoke to Subba Reddy on how he plans to ensure hassle-free darshan for the common pilgrim.
Sudhir : Your decision to scrap the List category darshan has been welcomed by most common pilgrims. But the criticism is that VIP darshan continues which means only the nomenclature has changed.
Reddy : That’s not true, Sudhir. My priority is the common pilgrim. Under the List category darshan system, everyday we used to have about 500 to 1000 people to get special priority darshan. Today is the third day after we abolished it. Yesterday there were just 50 people under the VIP darshan quota and we finished with them in just 20 minutes. Earlier List category darshan would take up to four hours.
Sudhir : Who are these people under the VIP darshan quota?
Reddy : They are ministers, judges, MPs, MLAs, basically people who have to be taken care of under government protocol.
Sudhir : The earlier List category system besides being discriminatory was also riddled with corruption. Is that something the TTD accepts?
Reddy : Yes, I agree. There were malpractises and it was also exploitative. Brokers would collude and for up to Rs 15000 per pilgrim, L2 and L3 category darshans were upgraded to L1. We caught many of them red-handed.
Sudhir : There are several proposals before you to streamline the process, to reduce the waiting time for the common pilgrim. For instance, one of the suggestions is that any devotee who donates Rs 10000 to the Srivani Trust will be issued a VIP darshan ticket. Has anything been finalised?
Reddy : Nothing has been decided. We are getting many suggestions, including the one you mentioned. It has also been suggested that those who want a quicker darshan should donate to one of the eight Trusts run by TTD. We can raise money for our charitable activities as well as to give free medical care at our BIRRD (Sri Balaji Institute of Surgery, Research and Rehabilitation for the Disabled) hospital.
We are seeking advice from various seers as well. Some have suggested a Break darshan in the evening in addition to the one in the morning. For now, anyone who buys a Rs 500 ticket should be able to get a darshan in a couple of hours to three hours.
Sudhir : How long will the TTD take to finalise the system?
Reddy : Nothing will be decided quickly. The TTD Board has to be constituted. The chief minister is likely to do it after the Budget session ends by the end of this month.
Categories: Andhra Pradesh