BJP Member of Parliament Subramanian Swamy filed a defamation case against a prominent Telugu daily in the Tirupati City Civil Court on Wednesday for publishing ‘slanderous’ material against the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the custodian of the famed Sri Venkateswara shrine at Tirumala.
Known as a champion of safeguarding Hindu shrines and waging legal battles to restore the rights of temples, Dr. Swamy came forward to take up this issue specifically at the behest of the TTD. The issue pertains to the article reportedly carried by Andhra Jyoti in 2019 over the alleged presence of ‘Christian related content’ in the TTD’s official website, which later turned out to be fake. The TTD had filed a defamation case for ₹100 crore against the daily for hurting the religious sentiments of millions of Hindu devotees across the globe. Dr. Swami, who claimed to have ‘never lost a defamation case’, has now jumped into the fray over the same issue.
Dr. Swami’s presence at the court was necessitated on Wednesday as his signature was required to proceed with the case. He accused the media house of having resorted to mudslinging, owing to its close links with former Chief Minister and Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu. “Venkateswara is our family God and my mother used to be a regular visitor to Tirupati. It is hence I thought such slanderous campaign should be stopped”, Dr. Swami told the media outside the court complex here on Wednesday. The legal battle includes a criminal case under sections 153 and 295 of IPC for creating enmity between communities and a civil case pertaining to publishing objectionable content. When quizzed about singling out a media house when several dailies and social media carried news of ‘Christianising’ the TTD, he said the article in question was a direct assault on the institution, adding that he would not go by the content aired by social media.
Widely quoting the media and the public, he called himself a ‘Hindutva spokesperson’, owing to his support extended to the cause of freeing temples from the clutches of government. He wondered why should state governments hold the reins of temples, when they actually had no control over churches and mosques. Though representing the BJP in the Rajya Sabha, he also referred to his recent legal battle against the party-led Uttarakhand government for taking over 53 temples including the famed Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines.