The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, which controls the vast empire of the late spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba, made it clear on Tuesday that it is not happy with the Andhra Pradesh government's interference.
Addressing a press conference at Puttaparthi, V Srinivasan, one of the key Trust members, said, “I do not think there is any need for the government to have a separate mechanism. We are quite capable of managing the affairs of the institution.”
Srinivasan’s statement comes a day after the state government issued an ultimatum to the Trust, seeking information on its activities, revenues and assets within 10 days.
The state government had issued this order in the wake of controversies about mishandling of Trust funds.
While Srinivasan said that the Trust was ready to submit a report to the state government, sources said efforts are on to tap Sai Baba’s high-profile devotees in political parties and the government to put pressure on the state government not to meddle with the Trust. Legal opinion is also being sought on the state government’s move, they said.
Srinivasan himself had been interrogated by police on Monday in connection with the seizure of Rs35 lakh of unaccounted cash that was being transferred out of the ashram on June 19. He clarified the Trust did not have anything to do with the money seized by the police. “The money did not belong to the Trust. It was given by devotees to build a samadhi (memorial) of the late Sai Baba,” he said.
He added that Bangalore-based Shankarnayana Consultancy Pvt Ltd was given the task of building the samadhi, and the recovered money was actually meant to pay for its expenses.
“The firm’s employees were taking the money to Bangalore when the police seized it,” he said.