The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Saturday withdrew a letter in which it had proposed to take over the Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirumala immediately after it caused a stir.

In a letter to Anil Kumar Singhal, executive officer of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), that manages the country’s richest temple, R Srilakshmi, ASI superintendent of Amaravati circle, said she had received a communication from the ASI headquarters directing it to examine the feasibility of declaring Tirumala shrine and its group of temples located in Tirumala as protected monuments keeping in view of their antiquity and historicity.

“Hence you are requested to provide information on the surrounding temples under TTD and also cooperate with the ASI officials approaching you to collect information and taking photographs,” she said. However, within hours she sent another letter stating that the earlier letter was written inadvertently and was being withdrawn.

Soon after receiving the letter, the state government lodged a strong protest, expressing apprehensions that the Centre was trying to directly control the temple. State deputy chief minister K E Krishnamurthy said any decision on Tirumala temple should be taken keeping in view the sentiments of the devotees.

BJP national leadership also took the issue very seriously. BJP MP and spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao tweeted, “Minister of Culture, Govt of India (GoI) told me there is no question of GoI taking over Tirumala/ TTD or any temples or mosques. Only when a state govt requests intervention, Centre considers such a request.”

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