The Bhagyalakshmi Temple, abutting the south-east minaret of the historic Charminar, witnessed saffron whorls of political activity with several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and stalwarts arriving, with the latest being Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The temple has become a locus of political activity of sorts since the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls of 2020.
“Yogi ji had come in the morning and did the aarti and was here for around 15 minutes,” said Bhagyalakshmi Temple trustee Shashikala, who was with the Uttar Pradesh CM during his visit. “He was accompanied by Bandi Sanjay, Raja Singh, Dr K Laxman and other leaders.”
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s visit was amidst a significant increase in constabulary, and surrounded by a phalanx of security personnel.
While the temple has been in focus on other occasions, the GHMC polls in 2020 brought the spotlight on it with the BJP State president Bandi Sanjay making a significant appearance there with a bevy of his supporters. Since then, the BJP has been attempting to bring the temple into the political discourse.
“The popularity of the temple during Diwali is worth seeing. Having said that, we are also seeing that after the BJP won several seats in the GHMC elections, people’s faith here has increased,” the temple trustee opined.
But the nature of the temple, on a few occasions, has stirred controversy. In 2012, tension gripped the Old City after there was talk of its alleged expansion, an allegation that was triggered during changing of tarpaulin sheets. The High Court gave the go-ahead for the changing of these sheets to the authorities. Later, several All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen legislators were detained.
The Archaeological Survey of India, the Central government agency which is the custodian of Charminar, in different responses to Right to Information requests filed by activists and heritage enthusiasts, described the temple as “unauthorised construction” and that it came into existence after “taking over of Hyderabad by the government of India,” a position which Hindu groups oppose.