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Monday, December 22, 2008

Andhra CM son-in-law's mammoth religious meet draws flak

Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
December 15, 2008

Evangelist Anil Kumar's debut in Secunderabad bore all the hallmarks of a gala event. A sprawling parade ground packed with nearly 1.5 lakh people, a 250-member choir and guests including Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, his wife and only daughter.

So why are the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Telugu Desam Party crying foul over the Evangelist's religious sessions?

For Anil Kumar is YSR Reddy's son-in-law, and the Opposition parties have started questioning how Anil Kumar's mammoth congregations were funded.

Very few people were aware of who Anil Kumar was till hundreds of huge hoardings, welcoming people to his 'Grand Christmas celebrations', sprung up all over the twin cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad.

After it was revealed that Anil Kumar was the chief minister's son-in-law, the TDP and BJP demanded an inquiry into the source of funding for such large-scale publicity, insisting that ill gotten money was being used to promote the Evangelist.

While Anil Kumar avoided the media, YSR quipped, "What is wrong in it," when asked about the publicity machinery being used to promote his son-in-law.

On the night of the congregation, Anil Kumar made a grand entry and left a deep impression with his oratorical skills and his inspiring speech.

Anil Kumar told the congregation that he had experienced many miraculous changes in his own life after he adopted Christianity.

"All you have to do is believe in Him," he exhorted the people, stressing that God will take care of everything and everybody if people have faith in Him. "No doctor has a treatment for AIDS but there is a supernatural doctor who can do it," he said.

Reddy, his wife Vijaya and daughter Sharmila also addressed the congregation. While the chief minister restricted himself to extending Christmas greetings to the people and praying for peace in the state, his daughter stole the show with her spirited speech. She drew huge applause when she quoted a passage from the Bible, "God gives us power but we should rejoice in God".

Though Brother Anil Kumar has held such congregations at many places across the state including Rajahmundry and Warangal, this was the first time that he held such a session in Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

Incidentally, Anil Kumar is being promoted as an Evangelist at a time when the ruling Congress is embroiled in a running feud with another internationally famous evangelist K A Paul, who is facing legal problems in the state.

"Rajasekhara Reddy is promoting Anil Kumar so that he can become more popular than K A Paul," alleged TDP leader N Rajakumar.

Meanwhile, YSR's only son YS Jaganmohan Reddy is being groomed for a political role, and he will contest the next Lok Sabha elections from Kadapa constituency.

‘All you have to do is believe in Him’

HYDERABAD: They came dressed in their Sunday best to listen to the first family of Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, his sonin- law Brother Anil Kumar `Benjamin’ Komanapally, daughter Sharmila Reddy and wife Vijaya Rajasekhara Reddy, all spoke at the `Grand Christmas Celebration’.

The day marked the culmination of the three-day festival. An estimated 1.5 lakh people turned up at the Parade Grounds, filled to capacity by the time Anil Kumar took the colourfully-decorated stage. Before he spoke, however, his wife Sharmila urged the audience to introspect on their lives and make time for God. She quoted her dad’s favourite verses from the Bible, `God gives us power, but we should rejoice in God’. In between the speeches, a 250-strong choir sang and danced to popular Christian numbers.

A row of lights supported by two huge cranes located behind the stage illuminated the stage.

A laser show on Christ’s life was a hit with the crowd.

Brother Anil Kumar spoke for an hour about the importance of accepting God into one’s life. He claimed that miracles had occured in his life since he accepted Christ.

He also claimed, ``No doctor has a solution for AIDS, but there is a supernatural doctor and all you have to do is believe in Him.’’ The Chief Minister drew the maximum applause when he stepped on to the stage. In his brief remarks, he wished everyone a merry Christmas and hoped for peace in the State and India. He said everyone should work to eradicate extremism and terrorism.

Three white doves were released and the programme ended with a bang, literally, a spectacular fireworks display that lit up the sky.

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