Plan to auction Tirumala temple properties kicks up row, chairman clarifies
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is mulling the idea of auctioning 50 immovable properties located at different places in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.Updated: May 25, 2020 20:53 IST
A recent proposal of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams that manages India’s richest temple Tirumala in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, to auction as many as 50 immovable properties of the temple located in different states, has triggered protests from opposition parties and Hindu religious groups.
On Monday, the TTD clarified that no final decision had been taken yet on this. “It was just a proposal which would be discussed at the next trust board meeting after taking into consideration suggestions from all quarters,” TTD trust board chairman Y V Subba Reddy told reporters in Tirupati.
He said the decision to auction 50 “unviable” properties was taken by the erstwhile trust board during the Telugu Desam Party’s regime in January 2016, based on a recommendation made by a sub-committee appointed for the purpose.
“At the TTD trust board meeting held in February this year, it was decided to examine the earlier resolution and suggest a plan of action for auctioning of the properties,” he clarified.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is mulling the idea of auctioning 50 immovable properties located at different places in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.
On April 30, the TTD listed out as many as 23 properties situated in various parts of Tamil Nadu, including Vellore, Kancheepuram and Thiruvalluvar districts, for auctioning, with the total upset price (base price) of these properties being Rs 2 crore.
The properties proposed for auction include houses, house sites, vacant lands and agricultural lands. While the house sites measure between one cent to five cents, the agricultural lands measure around 10 cents to less than an acre.
The TTD chairman said properties donated by devotees to the hill shrine several decades ago were non-maintainable and non- revenue generating for TTD as they were very petty and unviable. There are another 26 properties in Andhra Pradesh and one piece of land in Rishikesh.
The decision triggered a lot of uproar in political circles as well as religious groups and individuals.
Bharatiya Janata Party Andhra Pradesh unit president Kanna Lakshminarayana demanded that the temple withdraw the proposal to sell the properties gifted to the Lord by devotees as it would hurt the sentiments of the community.
The BJP called upon all its leaders and cadres to host a ‘SaveLordBalajiLands’ slogan as DP for their social media accounts. The slogan is trending as BJP’s top leaders GVL Narasimha Rao, Sunil Deodhar, state president Kanna Lakshminarayana and all other leaders have changed their DP accordingly.
Jana Sena party president Pawan Kalyan lashed out at the temple trust board for the decision that would be likely to hurt the sentiments of devotees.
Temples’ protection movement convenor CS Rangarajan appealed to the government to form a Dharmika Parishad to govern the assets of temples. He expressed the fear that the TTD’s decision would set a precedent for all temples for selling properties donated by devotees.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad threatened the YS Jagan Reddy-led government with launching Kar Seva, if the decision to sell God’s properties is not withdrawn.
The TTD chairman, however, said as per the rules, the TTD Board was competent to sell, exchange and mortgage immovable properties, if found beneficial to TTD.
He said that the practice of selling immovable, non-maintainable and non-useful properties had been in vogue since 1974. Between 1974-2014, about 129 such immovable properties which were not useful to TTD were disposed of in public auction.
Subba Reddy also appealed to devotees not to get carried away by false propaganda by vested interests aimed to create confusion.