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Baba sparks controversy

Baba sparks controversy

Author: R Akhileshwari
Publication: Deccan Herald
Date: January 31, 2009
URL: http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Jan312009/national20090130115624.asp

The popular Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has kicked off a controversy by criticising the appointing of 'unworthy' persons to head religious bodies like Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams that runs the richest temple in India of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala. The baba, conducting a week-long camp on yoga being attended by about 50,000 daily criticised the appointing of D K Adikeshavulu as TTD chairman. Adikeshavulu, a former TDP MP, was the leading liquor contractor in Andhra Pradesh which irked the baba.

During a visit to Tirupati on Thursday to receive an honorary title conferred on him by the Sanskrit University, the baba criticised the government's decision to appoint a 'liquor king' as TTD chairman and said it was wrong to appoint someone who was responsible for a whole range of evils spread by consumption of liquor. He said only those with unflinching 'social, ethical and religious values' should be appointed to the post.

Adikeshavulu, however, responded by saying he had given up liquor business before entering politics and was eligible for the post of chairman of TTD. He was appointed a few days after he was thrown out of TDP for voting in favour of the ruling UPA government during the vote on the nuclear deal in Parliament. He was promptly appointed by the Congress government apparently as a reward to the highly prestigious post.

Baba Ramdev described alcohol as a cause for breaking many families and added that people involved with its production, should not associate themselves with places of worship.

"When I went to Tirumala, I came to know that a member of the huge liquor mafia has become the chairman. When people come to know that the chairman is a liquor baron, their faith will be shaken, and this will be very dangerous," he said.

Expressing his anguish over the growing corruption, Baba Ramdev sought the resignation of Adikeshavulu and threatened to launch a campaign against him. Even as Home Minister K Jana Reddy who attended the baba's session on Friday tried to dilute the controversy saying Baba Ramdev was misreported.

However the Baba repeated his objections again. He asked how a person who was responsible for such widespread depravity and corruption could be appointed as TTD chairman that required "values of highest order."

He demanded the stiffest punishment for people who were "murderers of millions" and said they should be sued in court and exiled. He demanded that Adikeshavulu should be replaced by an "honest, nonorable and religious person."

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