The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) on Thursday projected a united front and said it would soon appoint a trustee as its chairman to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sathya Sai Baba.
The trust also washed its hands off the controversy over the glass casket – it raised questions on the exact date of Sai Baba’s death – and claimed that the coffin was donated by a devotee after he passed away.
Trustee and former CII President V Srinivasan said, “The new chairman of the trust would be appointed very soon and he would be one among the existing members.”
Claiming that there were no differences among trustees, he tried to end the succession row by ruling out inclusion of Sai Baba’s blue eyed student and personal assistant, Satyajit, as trust member. “We don’t feel that such a decision (to include Satyajit in trust) would be taken. We have no intensions to do so.”
Srinivasan claimed that Satyajit is an ex student of the Sathya Sai University, who was chosen by Baba as personal caregiver and ‘that is all his position is, nothing more than that’.
Satyajit was projected as next chairman and reports were making rounds about him fighting out the battle of succession with Sai Baba’s nephew R J Ratnakar (also a trustee) and Trust Secretary K Chakravarty.
Srinivasan claimed that Sai Baba had not left behind any will about the multi-thousand crore empire, but the trust deed laid guidelines about how the trust members should act in the event of his death.
Reacting to reports that the glass casket used to keep Sai Baba in state was purchased 22 days before his death was declared, the trustee said, “I want to make it very clear that we have not purchased the casket it was donated by a devotee.”
He ignored queries about the identity of the devotee and said the casket arrived here after Sai Baba’s death was pronounced.
“Only after Baba had passed away, we had to locate something so that to make proper arrangements. It is not as if that it came here and we were keeping in storage,” he said.
Srinivasan said the media had ‘hugely exaggerated’ the value of trust’s assets and gave details of land holdings claiming that the trust was involved in service, mainly in education and healthcare, in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
“We have not revalued the property… it is inconsequential. The books of account are accounted for and audited,” trustee and lawyer Naganand said.
The trust has never approached the Andhra Pradesh government for donations. The government also has assured that it does not have any interest or proposal for interfering in trust’s working, Srinivasan said.
His statements came at a time when Andhra Pradesh government had asked its Principal Secretary Finance L V Subrahmanya to keep a watch on trust management following allegations of misappropriation of funds.
Srinivasan claimed that the trust would follow Sai Baba’s traditions in letter and spirit and maintain the same values while furthering his activities.