Even as spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba, 86, died on Sunday, a fresh round of intense speculation began over his potential successor.
At the moment, his personal assistant, Satyajit, and nephew, RJ Ratnakar, are being viewed as the leading contenders to head the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT), chaired by Sai Baba.
The trust, which runs a railway station and an airport in this pilgrim town, is believed to have assets worth Rs 40,000 crore.
A relative of Sai Baba said, "Satyajit and Ratnakar are the two candidates who could head the trust. The trustees are also not averse to this."
Satyajit, 33, a post-graduate in business administration, is associated with Sai Baba since the age of five and has exclusive access to him at the hospital where he is being treated since March 28.
Sai Baba indicated last year that Satyajit should be part of the trust.
Ratnakar, 39, a cable network operator and a petrol pump dealer, found place in the trust in 2005 after his father, Janakiramaiah's death.
Sai Baba is known to have earlier thwarted attempts by his relatives to participate in the trust's activities.
The state government has steered clear of the succession row.
"After all, the trustees have to take a decision (on the successor). However, Satyajit is chosen by Baba to serve him," LV Subrahmanyam, principal secretary, finance, told HT.