The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday issued an order providing 50% reservations in all temple committees and endowment institutions to members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, and Other Backward Class communities, Hindustan Times reported. Women have also been given 50% reservation in the temple committees.

This is the first time the government has provided reservations in Hindu religious bodies on the basis of caste and gender, reports said. During the Assembly election campaign, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had promised to provide these reservations.

The government order was issued after amending the AP Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Appointment of Trustees Rules, 1987, The News Minute reported.

The decision came days after the state cabinet decided to increase the number of board members of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam from 19 to 25. The Tirupati administration might be exempted from the order as members from other states also have to be appointed, Hindustan Times quoted an unidentified official from the chief minister’s office as saying.

“We don’t mind people from all sections of the society in the temple trust boards and committees,” said Temples Protection Committee Convener C Ranga Rajan. “What we object to is the appointment of people from weaker sections having faith in other religions.” Rajan also recommended that politicians, businessmen and celebrities should not be included in the committees as those who “really serve god should be appointed”.

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