Opposition lashes out at Naidu after Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Chief Priest accuses him of corruption

We had earlier reported that Chief Priest of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, Ramana Dikshitulu, had accused the state government and Temple administration of corruption, impropriety and mishandling of Temple affairs. Since then, he has been made to retire by the TTD Board and has been replaced by A Venugopala Deekshitulu. He has also directly accused Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and the officials appointed by him for the disappearance of jewels donated by devotees.

On the allegations against the Chief Minister, leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, Jaganmohan Reddy, has asserted that Naidu’s “lust for money and power is evident”. He said, “Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) has become an epicentre of corruption, with continuous disruption of tenets and practises in Agama Shastra. The state is resorting to taking the wrath on priests who question the policies of the Government.” He went on to add, “The recent issue of Chief priest in Tirumala is a case in point where Chandra Babu’s lust for money and power is evident. As a mark of legacy, the “Anuvanshik sevakulu” have right to serve the lord till their age and energy permits them. As there are no pay scale or retirement benefits accrued to these ‘Anavamsika Sevakulu’, there is no purpose of fixing a retirement age for these priests as they don’t come under regular employees. In the history of TTD, no government or leaders have ever resorted to such gross actions.” He also promised that should the YSRCP be elected to power, he will revoke all the decisions taken by the Chief Minister, including the retirement policy for the priests.

During an interview with Prema Sridevi of Republic, the Chief Priest said that he was victimized for meeting Amit Shah when the BJP President visited the Temple and he showed him how hidden treasures from the temple kitchen was stolen away. He said, “As a head priest according to the protocol system, I have to receive any dignitary visiting the temple, maybe a President of India, Vice President of India or Prime Minister or Chief Justice of India or the governor or the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. But when Amit Shah came and I showed him the kitchen around and told him what happen there. See .. how it will be, it is carried by the CM and in the light of political turmoil of the state that I have been victimized for meeting Amit Shah and explaining to him everything.”

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Allegations of mismanagement of Temples and the appropriation of their wealth by the Secular State is nothing new. The loss of our cultural heritage as a consequence of mismanagement has been well documented by various media outlets. From looting of Temple funds to the encroachment of temple lands, the secular state has been accused by various groups of misusing Temple wealth. Indic Collective, a civil liberties group, has been campaigning to free Hindu Temples of government control.

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