No irregularities in Tirumala, says AP govt after row over sacking head priest
The TDP government in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday insisted that there were no lapses on the part of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams with regard to administration of the Lord Venkateshwara temple on Tirumala and that all the temple rituals were being performed according to Vedic norms.india Updated: May 22, 2018 17:52 IST
The sacking of former head priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu from the Tirumala temple after he alleged corruption in the temple administration is snowballing into a political slugfest with the Telugu Desam Party-government accusing its former ally BJP of using the sacked priest to harass it.
The TDP government in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday insisted that there were no lapses on the part of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) with regard to administration of the Lord Venkateshwara temple on Tirumala and that all the temple rituals were being performed according to Vedic norms.
Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu held a high-level review meeting with officials of the TTD and endowments department in Amaravati in the wake of allegations made by former head priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu.
Deekshitulu, who is presently in Delhi, is said to be planning to move the Supreme Court challenging the TTD trust board’s move to unceremoniously remove him and three others from the temple service by fixing 65 years as the age limit for retirement.
Unconfirmed reports said Deekshitulu had met BJP national president Amit Shah and union home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi and sought a high-level inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the Tirumala temple administration.
During the review meeting, Naidu asked TTD authorities to see that there were no controversies with regard to performing of daily rituals in the temple and the sanctity of Tirumala was maintained.
TTD executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal rubbished Deekshitulu’s allegations of corruption and said there were no evidences of any misappropriation of funds. “Every rupee that the TTD spends has been recorded and as such, there was no misuse of funds,” Singhal told reporters after the meeting.
On allegations of missing ancient jewellery donated by various kings to Lord Venkateshwara centuries ago, Singhal said there were pucca records with regard to the jewellery listed in 1952, which was endorsed by Justice Wadhwa committee in 2010.
“Not a single ornament listed in 1952 records has been missing, though there are no proper mention of which ornament was donated by which king and when. We have already released the list of jewellery of Lord Venkateswara and we are ready to display the jewels to dispel doubts expressed by Deekhsitulu,” Singhal said.
On a particular allegation of Deekshitulu that a pink diamond from the Lord’s jewellery was recently auctioned in Geneva, Singhal said there was no mention of any such diamond in the 1952 list. “All that we know is a ruby was missing from one of the ornaments and it was broken during one of the temple rituals. The broken pieces of ruby are still available with the TTD,” he said.
Deekshitulu had also alleged that the kitchen (potu) in the temple complex was dug up in search of hidden wealth. But Singhal said only minor repairs were conducted in the kitchen. “Some more allegations have come up in the last two days and the TTD trust board would look into them as per the law,” he said.
Deekshitulu’s charges and his removal from the services of Tirumala temple also took a political turn on Monday with the YSR Congress party and the Jana Sena Party seeking a CBI inquiry into the whole controversy.
YSR Congress party MLA Kona Raghupathi and senior leader Malladi Vishnu, representing Brahmin community, held a meeting of Brahmin groups in Vijayawada on Monday and demanded a high-level probe into the allegations made by Deekshitulu.
Former chief secretary I Y R Krishna Rao, who was also former TTD executive officer, condemned the political interference in the temple’s affairs.
Senior BJP leader and MP Subramanian Swamy also tweeted that he would move the Supreme Court against sacking of Deekshitulu and three others unceremoniously and ask for a court-monitored CBI probe.
The ruling Telugu Desam Party launched a counter-attack on Deekshitulu, saying he was acting at the behest of the BJP to defame the TDP government. TTD trust board member and TDP MLA Bonda Uma said it was the conspiracy hatched by the BJP.
“Why has Deekshitulu been silent all these years? It is very clear that the BJP is trying to trouble the TDP government by raking up needless controversies in Tirumala,” he said.
The TDP ended its alliance with the BJP in March this year after accusing the saffron party of failure to implement promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act, besides granting special category status to the state.