The Telangana government on Saturday directed Yadadri temple authorities to remove images of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao and all other political leaders which were carved on the pillars of the temple.
The Chief Minister's special secretary gave the orders to Yadadri Temple Development Authority (YTDA) after strong protests by the opposition parties and Hindu groups.
Special Secretary to the Chief Minister, K. Bhoopal Reddy directed that except the symbols related to the god and the temple, no other symbols should be used in the development of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple, also known as Yadadri temple.
According to Chief Minister's Office (CMO), Reddy expressed anger at the way certain political leaders' illustrations and party symbols were carved in the structures.
Reddy asked YTDA Special Officer Kishan Rao and Art Director Ananda Sai under whose instructions and direction pictures of Chandrashekhar Rao, Indira Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi and symbols of certain political parties were engraved. The YTDA officials told him that one or two sculptors did this on their own.
The Chief Minister wanted pictures portraying the importance and greatness of the temple and spiritual pictures should be carved and engraved in the temple's vicinity.
Reddy instructed that all the pictures of political leaders and party symbols and other such objectionable material should be taken off forthwith.
The orders came after opposition Congress, BJP and some right-wing Hindu groups staged protests at Yadadri, leading to tension around the hill shrine during the day. BJP state president K. Laxman and other leaders tried to march towards the temple to protest carving of the images of the chief minister and other political leaders. Congress leaders also tried to take out a rally but were prevented by the police.
Earlier, BJP's lone state legislator Raja Singh had visited the temple and warned that if the images of KCR and other leaders were not removed within a week, he would mobilise devotees from around the country at Yadadri. He warned that the government will be responsible for the consequences.
The opposition parties alleged that Chandrashekhar Rao was trying to portray himself as a god. They said he had hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus.
Besides Rao's image, the symbol of his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the flagship schemes of his government were also sculpted.