The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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D factor in B probe

Hyderabad, April 26: Devotees, thank divine — or is it Delhi' — intervention.

The Tirupati temple board has ordered a full-scale inquiry into the protocol violation that forced 30,000 devotees to wait in the sun while Amitabh Bachchan and his family completed their darshan on Sunday.

It has proposed a series of measures, including free laddoos, to pacify the devotees. The board has also tendered a public apology to the devotees who suffered during the visit of the Bachchans and Anil Ambani.

VIPs are allowed in on a priority basis during hour-long breaks in the morning and evening but even then, other devotees can go in up to a point. But on Sunday, the devotees had to stand outside as some temple officials wanted to protect the privacy of newly wed Abhishek and Aishwarya.

“It is unfair and unjustified that temple authorities eased norms for film stars and industrialists. They should follow the rule book on who is a VIP,” said Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam chairman B. Karunakar Reddy.

The board will give free CDs and the coveted laddoos to devotees who can show “bus tickets or the guest house receipts” taken on April 22. A ban on VIP darshan between Friday and Monday is another likely fallout.

Sources in Hyderabad claimed that a Congress leader in Delhi was in touch with the chief minister’s office, enquiring about the proceedings of the board “since ordinary people had suffered”. The Congress is in power in Andhra. Apparently, someone sent a videotape of the darshan to Delhi.

Quick to dismiss suggestions of another manifestation of the differences between 10 Janpath and the Bachchan family, the sources said the Congress high command had no role to play in the temple controversy.

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