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TTD accuses former head priest of politicising temple affairs, threatens legal action

Deekshitulu, who was forced to retire from the post of head priest within a day of alleging corruption in the Tirumala administration in May, met YSR Congress chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Thursday. He had earlier met BJP president Amit Shah.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2018 22:33 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
head priest,TTD,temple affairs
Former TTD head priest Deekshitulu sought YSRCP leader Jagan Reddy’s support in his battle against the temple administration and the TDP government, accusing it of being involved in corruption plaguing temple administration.(PTI/File Photo)

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages Andhra Pradesh’s Triumala temple, accused its former head priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu of politicising temple affairs and threatened to take legal action against him.

Deekshitulu, who was forced to retire from the post of head priest within a day of alleging corruption in the temple administration in May, had met Opposition leader and YSR Congress chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Thursday.

Deekshitulu had sought Reddy’s support in his battle against the temple administration and the state’s ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, accusing it of also being involved in the corruption plaguing temple administration, people familiar with the matter said.

“This is nothing short of blasphemy. Deekshitulu, who served the Lord Venkateshwara as head priest for over 24 years, has hurt the sentiments of devotees by going to the residence of the Opposition leader who is a Christian. It was not correct on his part to politicise the temple issues which could be resolved in the trust board meetings,” TTD chairman Putta Sudhakar Yadav said on Friday.

Stating that Deekshitulu’s allegations were politically motivated, Yadav said, “Earlier, he had met BJP national president Amit Shah. Now, he met Jaganmohan Reddy. He has been addressing press conferences wherever he is going, slinging mud at the TTD and the state government. We are contemplating taking legal action against Deekshitulu shortly.”

Echoing Yadav’s views, TDP legislator Bonda Uma alleged said Deekshitulu’s charges were part of a conspiracy hatched by the BJP with the help of YSR Congress to run down the TDP government. “The conspiracy has now been clearly exposed,” he said.

The TDP had walked out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance over “denial” of special status to Andhra Pradesh earlier in the year. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a TTD official said in a meeting held on June 5, the trust board had resolved to file a defamation case against the retired head priest after consulting its legal advisers.

Deekshitulu, however, defended his meeting with Jagan, stating that he was willing to meet anybody in his struggle for “justice”. “I met the YSR Congress chief only to explain the injustice done to me. What’s wrong in meeting him? I will meet anybody who extends support to my struggle for justice. He assured me that he would do justice to me once he comes to power,” Deekshitulu said.

The retired priest said he also tried meeting chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, but he did not get the appointment. “I abide by my charges and I am ready for any kind of enquiry,” he said.

Ever since he was forced to retire after TTD enforced a 65-year retirement age for all priests in the Tirumala temple, Deekshitulu has been making allegations regarding graft in the temple administration, antique jewellery going missing and temple’s kitchen being dug up in search of hidden wealth.

He also alleged that a “pink diamond”, which adorned one of the ancient ornaments of the temple’s deity and had gone missing a few years ago, surfaced at a diamond auction in Geneva recently.

Meanwhile, a group of seers representing various religious Mutts are scheduled to meet in Tirupati on Saturday to take stock of the situation at Tirumala temple.

“The recent developments have caused a lot of anguish to the Hindus all over the country. We shall discuss the same and come out with a declaration, to be presented to the state government so as to put an end to all the controversies,” Swamy Paripoornanda of Sri Peetham, said.

First Published: Jun 08, 2018 22:33 IST