Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said on Wednesday that he has filed a defamation suit against vernacular Telugu daily ‘Andhra Jyothi’ for allegedly publishing false material against the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the custodian of the Sri Venkateswara shrine at Tirumala.
The defamation suit reportedly seeks a compensation of Rs 100 crore.
“It is necessary to set an example. Andhra Jyothi has crossed the limits of telling lies. Therefore the notice was served. If it is ignored, we will fight the matter in the court,” Swamy said in the temple town, flanked by a bevy of lawyers.
Swamy said the defamation suit encompasses both criminal and civil dimensions. Under the criminal dimension, Swamy has invoked IPC Sections 153, 295 and others, which entail serious offences relating to creating enmity between communities.
“In terms of dues that should be paid, it will be a civil litigation in which I myself will appear on behalf of the TTD, because they want me to take up the case,” he said.
Swamy said that he visited Tirupati on Wednesday for some signing and certification work related to the Andhra Jyothi case, and promised that he would keep seeing the journalists in this state quite often before beginning the question and answer session after his presentation.
While interacting with local journalists, Swamy cut them off several times and categorically rejected considering social media, YouTube videos and other data in connection with the Andhra Jyothi case.
To a reporter’s question on whether the TTD is employing 100 per cent Hindus, the BJP leader said that only Hindus should execute religious duties in the temple, but he would not care for the religion of a supplier who drives in a truck with supplies.
“Somebody brings provisions from the market in a truck… he may be a Christian, I can’t stop it. I won’t stop it, as it is unconstitutional. But if the symbol of any other religion appears during a religious function in Tirupati, I will take up the matter,” observed Swamy.
When the reporter said that many TTD employees have converted to Christianity, Swamy said that is an allegation and demanded the reporter to give it in writing to him.
“That is your allegation, give it to me in writing. I don’t know if you are telling a lie or not,” Swamy shot back.
As the reporter tried to reason out with Swamy that the daily had written reports only because the BJP had carried out an agitation, and questioned him if he would file a case against the party too, Swamy said that it was not his job as the national party had its own president and a disciplinary cell.
“No, why should I? The BJP has a disciplinary cell of its own. This should be brought to their notice,” he said.
When the reporter asked as to why he was going after only one newspaper which covered the BJP’s allegations as news reports, the senior leader said that it is not correct and claimed that he has the paper cuttings which did not bear references to the BJP.
Brushing aside the reporter’s contention about some alleged technical problems in TTD, Swamy said that he is essaying the role of an advocate with the facts given to him.