Govt bows down, appoints Ashok Gajapati as chairman

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Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government seems to have bowed down to the laws and appointed senior TDP leader and former Union minister, Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju, as chairman of the Simhachalam temple trust board. The YSR Congress government had removed Ashok Gajapathi Raju from the chairman post on March 3, 2020 and appointed his elder brother late Ananda Gajapathi Raju’s daughter Sanchaitha as chairperson.

Aggrieved Ashok Gajapathi Raju approached the high court challenging the state government’s decision. The court dismissed the appointment of Sanchaitha and directed the government to restore Ashok Gajapathi Raju as chairman.

The temple trust board has been headed by the elder male member of the Gajapathi Raju family for decades and the court felt that appointment of a female member was a violation of the rules. Since then, Ashok Gajapathi Raju had been working as chairman. However, the temple officials or the trust board members never recognised him for the official works in the temple.

Though unwilling, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government had issued orders once again appointing the new trust board for the temple for a period of two years. The government also continued Ashok Gajapathi Raju as chairman.

This time, the government filled the trust board with a majority of women as members. They included Vankayala Sai Nirmala, Penmesta Sridevi Varma, M Rajeswari, Dasamanthula Ramalakshi, Bayyavarapu Radha, Panchadi Padma, Suvvada Sridevi, Sampangi Srinivasa Rao, Pilla Krishna Murthy, K Nageswara Rao, Gantla Srinu Babu, R V Satish, Varanasi Dinesh Raju and Doddi Ramana.

Most of these trust board members are from the ruling YSR Congress, while the chairman is from the TDP. The government had never involved the chairman in the temple activities during the last two years and it is to be seen if it changes its approach at least during this tenure.

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