Hindu passengers travelling to Tirumala, a hugely popular temple town in India’s southern Andhra Pradesh state, noticed the advertisement for Hajj pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem printed on the back of bus tickets issued by the state-run Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC).
The passengers informed the APSRTC regional manager who said the tickets had been wrongly issued.
The incident acquired a political twist with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy of disrespecting Hindu sentiments.
Sunil Deodhar, a local BJP leader, said secular people would never accept any government agenda that seeks to promote minority religious propaganda.
BJP Andhra Pradesh co in-charge Sunil Deodhar:Printing of Jerusalem ad at back of Tirupati Bus Sewa ticket is unacceptable to secular ppl. If this appeasement policies of Jagan Govt for Christians continues, time isn't far when ppl of Andhra will send CM&his family to Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/iShi6gkSnc— ANI (@ANI) August 23, 2019
“Promoting one particular religion on a bus ticket to Tirupati is highly objectionable. This must come to an end," the BJP leader added.
A section of social media joined the criticism, claiming the adverts were offensive to Hindus.
Tryingtoensurepropersecularisminsteadofappeasementsothatharmonyismaintainedinsociety— Rahul Jain (@Rahuljain094) August 23, 2019
Not acceptable for Hindus— संजीव त्रिपाठी,राम का वंशज (@panditskt) August 23, 2019
Look into this... The Tenders which was given at the time of TDP Govt! pic.twitter.com/xThiAE3lmF— Dura Praveen Naidu (@Praveen_Dura) August 23, 2019
Others said it seemed an honest mistake by the state administration and there was no need for it to be turned into a controversy.
Not the #Jagan govt...the contract finalized by then govt...plz don't misinterpret without knowing the reality— K S JanaRdhan (@Jana7_KS) August 23, 2019
ChronicPseudohinduphobicsyndrome— NuclearFairies (@FairiesNuclear) August 23, 2019
I thought BJP and Jagan were in love pic.twitter.com/CVv7kl7UTy— TheBadGuy (@trick_sterrr) August 23, 2019
A senior official also played down the issue, saying the state transport authority was looking into the matter.
"It is an advertisement of the government issued by the minorities department," he was quoted as saying.
The opposition BJP has been stepping up political attacks on Jaganmohan Reddy since he became chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in May.