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TTD decides to auction 23 Srivari assets in TN; Kanna sees red, Jana Sena to fight legal battle

In a move that is likely to land in a legal wrangle, the Jagan government on Saturday decided to auction TTD assets. A decision to this effect was taken at a Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) meeting on Saturday.

The state government has decided to take over and auction 23 Srivari assets of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam across Tamil Nadu, mainly in Vellore, Thiruvallur, Kanchipuram. The TTD has set up eight committees. At the meeting, the TTD has decided to liquidate assets like land parcels and buildings donated by devotees to Lord Venkateswara to tide over the financial crisis and help provide salaries of its about 22,000 Tirumala staff members. The TTD has entrusted the registration of temple properties to the TTD officials, a move severely criticized by the state BJP, Congress and Jana Sena leaders.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) has land and other assets not only in Andhra Pradesh but also in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Haryana and Odisha. The worth of TTD properties would be over thousands of crores.

Y V Subbareddy, TTD board chairman and maternal uncle of Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, in the past attributed the auction of temple lands to paucity of funds. The board has already announced that they don’t have enough funds to pay the employees salary from June. It has also said that that temple board has no other go except for relying on the fixed deposits and sale of temple wealth for maintenance expenses.

BJP State president Kanna Laxminarayana on Saturday demanded that the TTD drop the idea of auction of TTD assets as it would severely hurt the religious sentiments of millions of devotees. Questioning the propriety behind the TTD move, he said the onus of protecting the temple properities rested on the shoulders of the state government. The TTD would have to face a public agitation if it went ahead with the move to sell temple assets, he said. “The government is playing with the sentiments of Hindu devotees and trying to undermine Hindu religion. We will not keep silent if the TTD assets are auctioned,” Kanna warned.

The Jana Sena leaders came down heavily on the state government saying the motive behind the move was to usurp the temple properties by the YSRCP leaders and their family members. The Jana Sena leaders said they will move the court to challenge the government’s decision to auction temple assets saying the Jagan government’s decision will hurt the sentiments of crores of devotees. The Opposition leaders demanded that the TTD should immediately stop its move to take over and auction the temple properties.

AP Mahila Congress leader Padmavathi said the TTD’s move is an insult to the devotees who donated the lands to Lord Venkateswara and that the TTD officials have miserably failed to protect the properties of Lord Venkateswara.

Former Congress Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan had recently asked the central government to appropriate all the gold lying with all religious trusts in India. According to Chavan, the gold worth $1 trillion could be borrowed at a low-interest rate and utilised in the ongoing “emergency” Covid-19 situation. “Government must immediately appropriate all the gold lying with all the religious trusts in the country, worth at least $1trillion, according to the World Gold Council. The gold can be borrowed through gold bonds at a low-interest rate. This is an emergency,” he recently tweeted sparking a row.

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No question of touching gold, cash deposits, asserts TTD Chairman

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Closed for darshan for nearly two months due to coronavirus lockdown, the revenues of Sri Venkateswara temple at Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala have hit the rock bottom but the body which runs the affairs of the world’s richest temple said it has the reserves to pay salaries to its employees for May.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Chairman Y. S. Subba Reddy told IANS that despite the crisis, it has the reserves to pay salaries for the month of May. He is also confident of mobilising resources to pay salaries and take care of other expenses for maintenance of the temple for the next month, if required.

He, however, ruled out drawing money from the fixed deposits or gold deposits in the bank.

“That will not happen. Our Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has given instructions that we should not touch deposits because it is a sentimental issue. Gold and fixed deposits are given by devotees from all the country. That is sentimental. Only Hundi and other collections have to go to corpus,” he said.

Balaji temple, as the hill shrine is also popularly known, is reported to have nine tonnes of gold reserve and Rs 14,000 crore fixed deposits in various banks.

“Drawing from deposits does not arise. Still, we don’t know what will happen in future. We will see to it that it does not happen and we continue all customs and procedures perfectly,” said Subba Reddy, who is also the maternal uncle of the Chief Minister.

The temple was closed for devotees on March 19, much before the announcement of lockdown. The TTD is losing almost Rs 200 crore revenue every month due to the closure.

“We get the revenue through Hundi, Arjita Sevas, auction of hair, room rents and other sources. Room rent, hair and others operate on a cost to cost basis and the main revenue is thorough Hundi,” he said.

The temple earns Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,200 crore from ‘Hundi’ collections or offerings by devotees every year.

“We are passing through difficult times not just we but the entire country and the whole world through the crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In these times we were forced to close darshan for devotees but the temple maintenance, pooja programmes are continuing in accordance with the temple procedure and systems. We have to maintain temples, conduct poojas, organise festivals as per the programme. Whether there is work or no work, you have to pay salaries to the employees. We have already managed for two months.”

TTD spends Rs 125 crore every month towards payment of salaries, maintenance of temples and security.

“We paid salaries for March and April. We have some reserves kept ready for paying salaries for May. For June, we will have to raise some other sources. I am confident we will work out some formula and mobilize,” he said.

“I don’t know. As of now I can’t say. I hope the Lord will not allow the situation to come to that stage,” the TTD chairman said when asked if he would look for support from the state government.

The hill shrine attracts 50,000 to one lakh pilgrims every day. The number on special occasions like the annual Brahmotsavam and festivals goes up to 4-5 lakh.

The devotees make offerings in the form of cash, gold and silver jewellery, property deeds and even demat shares.

For 2020-2021, TTD had presented a Rs 3,310 crore budget with the cash offerings by devotees projected at Rs 1,351 crore.

The temple trust expects Rs 706 crore interest on deposits in nationalised and private banks, Rs 302 crore from the sale of tickets for various forms of worship and Rs 400 crore from laddu ‘prasadam’.

The earnings from the auction on human hair to be offered by millions of devotees as fulfillment of their vow were likely to be Rs 106 crore.

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Tirumala Balaji temple closed under corona threat

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The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has already closed down the Alipiri Gate in Tirupati and banned entry to all new pilgrims there. Rumours are doing rounds that the TTD has already decided to close Balaji Temple atop Tirumala hills. This is in tune with the Central government advisories to restrict all social gatherings. The massive crowds and rush in Temple queue lines also pose a risk. For the past few days, arrival of devotees has greatly come down.

Since yesterday, the AP government has begun taking anti-virus precautions after the SC order upheld postponement of local body elections. Schools are closed. Now, the endowments department began preventive measures. Annavaram Temple is also being restricted.

Latest reports say that by Friday midday, Tirumala temple will be completely closed down. The pilgrims who are already present atop the hills are being evacuated and they are asked to return home.

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TTD measures to prevent corona virus

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The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has decided to removing waiting of crowds in queues and compartments for Darshan. Lakhs of people visit the temple every day. But now, the corona virus is threatening to spread from any corner. Already, a positive case has raised big concerns in Nellore town limits. Many states and institutions are taking immediate voluntary steps for safety precautions.

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal has come out with these preventive measures. The mass gathering problem is indeed big in Tirumala temple. Moreover, devotees come from all over the world. Screening of the devotees is also not possible because of the lack of enough medical infrastructure there.

Because of these limitations, the TTD decided to give time slots to devotees. Also, the devotees will not be allowed to go in crowds at one time to had Darshan. There are reports the arrival of devotees has also come down a bit because of the virus scare. Because of the epidemic steady spread in different parts of India, institutions like TTD are becoming alert. For safety sake, the TTD has already cancelled Sitaramula Kalyanam in Vontimitta Ramalayam.

Meanwhile, TDP is asking the State Election Commission to suspend the elections temporarily and restart the same after virus scare is over.

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Harish Rao ignored by YSRCP leaders and TTD officials!

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TRS senior leader and Telangana finance minister T Harish Rao’s position seems to be turning from bad to worse.

TRS party chief and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao has sidelined Harish Rao both in the TRS and also in the TRS government, while he is promoting his son KTR both in the party and the government. Speculations are rife that KTR will be made as CM anytime in 2020.

On Monday, Harish got yet another shocker in Andhra Pradesh, as he was ignored by both YSRCP leaders and also TTD officials.

Harish was in Tirumala to have darshan of Lord Venkateshwara on the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadasi on Monday.

However, Harish was shocked to find that there was no one to receive him at the temple.

On the other hand, KCR’s son KT Rama Rao was accorded a grand welcome at Tirumala.

YSRCP leaders and TTD officials queued up at the temple to welcome KTR at Tirumala right from his arrival at the Renigunta airport on Sunday evening till he had darshan of the Lord during VIP break darshan on Monday. KTR was accompanied by his wife, son and daughter.

YSRCP MP PV Midhun Reddy, MLA Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy, a host of local YSRCP leaders and TTD officials accorded him a grand welcome at the airport and also at the temple. They accompanied KTR’s family in the temple.

Harish too is entitled for protocol at Tirumala temple as a minister from Telangana State. But no one bothered to follow the protocol. Harish had to wait for longer time at the temple as neither anyone received him nor made any arrangements for his darshan of the Lord.

Though Harish tried to reach out to TTD officials, there was no response. At one point, Harish reportedly got angry and decided to return Hyderabad without having darshan.

However, the timely involvement of TTD board member from Telangana, Damodar Rao has saved the day for Harish. Damodar Rao made arrangements for Harish and ensured Harish got VIP break darshan along with other VIPs.

An angry Harish returned to Hyderabad immediately after darshan as he was not keen on staying in Tirumala any longer.

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TTD another row on ‘Vaikuntha Dwara Darsanam’

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Ex Chief Secretary LV Subrahmanyam actively and innocently supported CM Jagan Reddy in every step without realising what would happen to him later. Similarly, TTD Agama Advisor Ramana Deekshitulu is crossing all limits to support any proposals brought by YCP sympathisers. In just a few days, Deekshitulu gave his second approval for changing long-established traditions in the Seven Hills Temple.

The latest controversy is that the TTD is going ahead to extend Vaikuntha Dwara Darsanam to devotees from two days to 10 days. Without losing any time, Ramana Deekshitulu has waved green flag for this saying that this extension will not go against the Agama Shastra. But, the traditionalists say that Vaikuntha Dwara Darsanam will be like ordinary darsan only if it is done on days other than the fixed two days every year.

Devotees are accusing TTD of breaking the long-cherished traditions for the sake of taking commercial advantages out of religious beliefs. Ramana Deekshitulu is facing criticism from priests for supporting these ungodly activities. No doubt, Deekshitulu will one day regret his actions just like LV Subrahmanyam.

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Jagan Circar’s GO 2323 causing tremors in TTD

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The Jaganmohan Reddy government turned its focus on Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam for weeding out the staff appointed during the previous Chandrababu Regime. It issued GO 2323 removing all those who retired before March 31 this year but continuing as contract or outsourcing staff in TTD. Because of this GO, ‘Dollar’ Seshadri is also expected to lose his job. He retired as a superintendent 10 years ago.

Reports say that Jagan Circar has targetted nearly 60 staff in TTD under this GO. Instructions are given to terminate their services by today evening.

Following the latest development, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal is taking extra care to implement the order effectively. He has directed the heads of all wings in the TTD to immediately submit full details of the outsourced and contract staff under them.

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Blow to Amaravati: TTD Reddy reverse decision

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CM Jagan’s reverse rule has become inspiration for everyone down the line in the present government. CM Uncle and TTD Chairman SV Subba Reddy has also started reversing the decisions of the previous Chandrababu Naidu Government regardless of their importance. During Naidu Regime, the then TTD Board took a decision to provide Rs 150 Cr to construct Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple in Amaravati Capital City area.

The situation has changed now after Jagan came to power. YCP Boss has a clear agenda to kill Amaravati global city project without second thoughts. He has already given ample indications of how his government will perform a silent burial to the Andhra Capital. When Jagan has such an agenda, would the new TTD Board give Rs 150 Cr for Amaravati Balaji temple?

Consequently, Subba Reddy cut down the budget and announced that only Rs 38 Cr would be provided to the Amaravati temple project. Critics say that it’s doubtful whether Chairman Reddy would release even these funds.

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Tirumala temple’s non-Hindu employees must quit: Jagan govt

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The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered that the employees of the Tirumala temple who converted to non-Hindu religions should quit as they can’t continue in their posts.

Authorities were directed to check the antecedents of all the employees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the world’s richest Hindu temple atop Tirumala.

Chief Secretary L.V. Subrahmanyam, during his visit to the temple early this week, said if necessary surprise checks would also be conducted at the houses of the employees to ensure that they are not practising non-Hindu religions.

“There are employees have converted to other religions. It’s their choice. Nobody can stop them from doing so but they can’t continue in their jobs in the TTD. Nobody should hurt the religious sentiments of others,” he said.

Subrahmanyam said while every individual was free to follow and practice the religion of his choice, no non-Hindu can continue to serve in the TTD.

“Such people should come out and speak with courage and leave,” he added.

There are an estimated 48 non-Hindu employees in TTD and they came under scanner amid concerns being expressed in some quarters over increasing proselytization in Tirumala.

Last year after a video of a TTD official praying at a Church had gone viral, the higher-ups had removed some non-Hindu employees.

The Chief Secretary also assured measures to strictly implement orders issued in the past banning propagation of other religions in Tirumala.

The latest move by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government comes amid controversies and mounting criticism by the opposition, especially Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which dubbed him “anti-Hindu”.

Advertisements for Jerusalem yatra and Haj pilgrimage on bus tickets in the temple town of Tirupati had sparked a row last week.

The advertisements were found on back of tickets of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC). The government ordered a probe and promised to take action against the officials for their lapse.

BJP national Secretary Sunil Deodhar, who is also co-incharge of party affairs in the state, termed the advertisement of Jerusalem yatra as “unnecessary, unacceptable, communal and insult to Lord Balaji”.

The BJP had also targeted Jagan Reddy for allegedly not lighting a lamp at a ceremony during his recent visit to the US.

Some BJP leaders alleged that Jagan Reddy, a Christian, visited Hindu temples during elections only to garner votes.

However, leaders of the YSR Congress Party clarified that safety rules in the US do not permit lighting of traditional oil and wick lamps especially in auditoriums. They claimed that there was an electric lamp at the event attended by the Chief Minister.

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Gold, silver ornaments missing from TTD treasury

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Some gold and silver ornaments allegedly went missing from the treasury of the Tirumala temple, which led to the temple authorities so far recovering Rs 2.25 lakh from an official held responsible for the loss.

A five-kg silver crown and two gold items were reported to have gone missing from the treasury of the temple about two years ago but the incident came to light on Tuesday after a section of TTD employees took exception to only one official being held responsible for the incident.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the world’s richest Hindu temple, meanwhile, assured devotees that their contributions are safe.

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said all precautions and vigilant steps were taken by the TTD in the preservation of devotees’ contributions of gold and silver ornaments and others with proper documentation in the treasury.

He denied reports of laxity and carelessness in preserving the devotees’ contributions and said stringent action was taken against erring officials, if any.

He said all the devotees’ contributions were safely and systematically brought to the treasury of TTD administrative building where an Assistant Executive Officer rank official records them and keep the ornaments in lockers. “In the event of a transfer of the officials, there would be a total inspection of all items in the presence of outgoing, and incoming officials in the presence of Vigilance, the Deputy Executive Officer concerned and accounts officials,” he said.

AEO M. Srinivasulu had personally reported some shortages of ornaments worth totalling of Rs 7,36,375 as per certification of October 10, 2017, and also some additions. Among the excess items were some gold and silver ornaments, precious stones, and gold plated jewels.

The EO said after investigations, Srinivasulu was held responsible for the shortfall in the ornaments and at the rate of Rs 25,000 per month, an amount of Rs 2.25 lakh has so far been recovered from him.

He said on the appeal of the said AEO, the TTD has agreed to undertake certification once again in September next when the shortages could become more transparent.

The EO said in the event if the alleged shortlisted items were not found, the TTD would take action for the full recovery of the total amount and also initiate departmental disciplinary proceedings as well against Srinivasulu.

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Andhra official quits TTD panel over parallel probe

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Unhappy over a parallel inquiry ordered into the alleged misappropriation of Rs 4 crore at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam’s Sri Venkateswara temple in New Delhi, Andhra Pradesh Resident Commissioner Praveen Prakash has resigned as Chairman of the TTD Local Advisory Committee (LAC).

Praveen Prakash on Saturday sent his resignation to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the world’s richest Hindu temple at Tirumala in Tirupati.

His move came after the Andhra Pradesh government ordered probe by the Vigilance and Enforcement Department into alleged financial irregularities by TTD staff posted in New Delhi.

The fresh probe was ordered even as Prakash, an IAS officer, was conducting an inquiry on the direction of the TTD following a petition by an anonymous person alleging the scam.

The letter, believed to be written by a newly-appointed TTD staff member in Delhi, claimed malpractices by some temple staff and the LAC.

The complainant, in his letter last month, alleged that the staff was siphoning off Rs 5 lakh every month. He also claimed that the annual expenditure of the TTD in the national capital rose to Rs 7 crore from Rs 1.4 crore earlier.

The staff had allegedly diverted funds under ‘Anna Prasadam’ (free meals for devotees) and were also collecting money from priests, he alleged

The allegations caused a furore and following advice by TTD Chairman Y.V. Subba Reddy and government advisor Ajeya Kallam, another probe by the Vigilance and Enforcement Department was ordered.

Kallam had reportedly visited the temple on Friday to get first-hand information about the happenings.

Prakash, who had ordered inquiry by the legal officer on August 14, took exception to the manner in which parallel probe was ordered and an official of Vigilance and Enforcement Department took away records. He said this indicate lack of confidence in the office of LAC Chairman.

He sent his resignation to TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal.

LAC manages the S.V Temple, the TTD Information Centre in New Delhi and some temples in Kurukshetra and Rishikesha on behalf of the TTD.

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TTD Chairman Yadav resigns, to be replaced by a Reddy

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Putta Sudhakar Yadav, Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, resigned from the post after a prolonged wait. About 10 out of the total 16 TTD members have already resigned. But Sudhakar Yadav stayed on saying he would wait for the government decision. There has been talk that the YCP government will bring in an ordinance to replace Yadav, who belongs to BC community.

It is decided already that new TTD Chairman would be former MP YV Subba Reddy, who is a close relative of CM Jaganmohan Reddy. There have been doubts raised over the social engineering claims of Jagan as a very important post of TTD Chairman is being given to a Reddy while the previous TDP government chose a BC candidate.
During the recent visit of Telangana CM KCR to Amaravati, no importance was given to weaker sections leaders or ministers. Only minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy, Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy, YV Subba Reddy were present along with Jagan during talks with KCR. Now the TTD episode of replacing a BC with a Reddy is putting a lot of question marks on the social justice claims of Jagan and his team. In the recent Assembly also, YCP MLAs one after another claimed how Jagan gave top priority to SC, ST, BC and Minorities.

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Tirupati temple has 9,259 kg gold in treasury, banks

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The Sri Venkateswara Temple at Tirumala here owns 9,259 kg of gold deposited with various banks and in its treasury, a senior temple official said on Monday.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the country’s richest temple, has 5,387 kg of gold with the State Bank of India and 1,938 kg of gold with the Indian Overseas Bank under gold deposit schemes.

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said the Punjab National Bank (PNB) returned 1,381 kg of gold on April 20 as the three-year scheme had reached maturity.

In addition, the TTD treasury has 553 kg mixed gold, comprising small jewellery.

A day after the Andhra Pradesh government ordered an inquiry into the alleged lapses into the release and transportation of 1,381 kg gold in the wake of its seizure by the Election Commission in Tamil Nadu, Singhal told a news conference that the PNB had total responsibility for the gold till delivering it to the TTD’s treasury.

The gold was seized in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvallur district on April 17 when it was being brought back from PNB’s branch in Chennai to the TTD treasury in Tirupati.

Singhal denied media reports that the TTD showed documents to the Election Commission claiming ownership of the gold.

He made it clear that they were in no way concerned with the security and transportation of the gold as it was entirely the responsibility of the PNB.

After the seizure of the gold, the Income Tax department asked the TTD to send an official in connection with the investigations. The TTD official only informed the IT that PNB was supposed to deliver the gold at TTD treasury on April 18.

The gold seizure a day before the elections in Tamil Nadu triggered a row with TTD initially denying that the gold belonged to it.

Singhal defended the stand taken by the temple body. “It is the TTD’s gold when it reaches the treasury. How do we know how much gold the truck was carrying and what was its transportation route?” he asked.

On the criticism for transportation of the gold in the midst of elections, he dismissed this as coincidence. He said the maturity date was known when the gold was deposited with the PNB in 2016.

He said TTD had written to PNB on March 27 that gold deposit will be reaching maturity on April 18 and asked it to deliver the gold at treasury along with the interest (70 kg gold).

He said under the gold deposit gold scheme, the banks are paid one per cent commission and 1.5 per cent handling charges which includes gold purity testing, transportation, storage and other costs.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary L.V. Subrahmanyam on Sunday ordered an inquiry in the wake of gold seizure. He asked Special Chief Secretary, Revenue, Manmohan Singh, to find out the specific lapses, if any, on the part of the PNB and the TTD and submit a report on or before April 23.

The inquiry officer was asked to see if there were written instructions issued by the Executive Officer, TTD, and what was the role of TTD’s Vigilance wing. The officer will also report on what special care and monitoring the Vigilance wing of TTD has to take.

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TDP Sathupalli MLA reappointed TTD Board Member

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Sathupalli newly elected MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah is one of the two MLAs of the Telugu Desam Party in the newly formed Telangana Assembly. At the time of elections, Veeraiah resigned from the membership of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Board in view of the election guidelines.

In the recent elections, Veeraiah got re-elected and consequently the AP Government gave one more chance for him to serve on the TTD Board. In view of the latest appointment, he visited the hill shrine along with family members and offered puja at the temple. He met with the Executive Officer Singhal during the day. The temple authorities gave the MLAs’ family ‘Uttaradwara darsahanam’.

Speaking after his darshan, Veeraiah said he prayed for the well-being and prosperity of the people of his native Khammam district. The MLA also took part in the Mukkoti Ekadasi celebrations held by the TTD. He is going to officially take charge as the board member soon.

Veeraiah has been a loyal worker and trusted leader of the TDP and he has worked to strengthen the party in Khammam district. He is also a strong supporter of Khammam ex MP Nama Nageswara Rao who lost in the Khammam town segment in recent elections.

G.Ravikiran

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Unholy fight at holy Tirumala irks devotees

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The government and the TTD on one side and the priests and the Brahmin community on the other, have locked horns over alleged irregularities happening on the top of the seven hills. The most shocking is the allegation on violations of faith including denial of teerdha prasadam to the Lord.

The government claims that chief priest Ramana Deekshitulu was made to retire as per the existing rules. But, the community and some faithful intellectuals reject the government’s point of view and claim that the duties of serving the God are bound by the faith of the person and not the rule of law.

The BJP had taken up the issue dragging it from the Seven Hills to the national capital and even to the doors of the Supreme Court. The administrative irregularities can be discussed and judged by the courts of law. But the issue of faith is something different and one wonders how a priest is made to retire at certain age. The work of the priest in the temple is not an employment where files can be cleared by the successor. It is not just faith here. It is something to do with the practices that are followed to worship the God. The practices are important to protect and keep up the sanctity of the place that increases the faith of the people. This has nothing to do with the age as it has to be passed on to the future generations.

One wonders why the issue had come up now. If one looks back to the sequence of events happened around Tirumala this month, the flashpoint started after the visit of BJP national chief Amit Shah. The BJP chief had worshipped the presiding deity Lord Venkateswara after completing the electioneering in Karnataka. The BJP chief had the darshan of the deity while the TDP leaders were holding protest outside the temple.

The newly formed TTD, which is more loyal to the TDP, seems to have found itself uncomfortable with Shah given the traditional welcome and offered rituals. That is what appears as the flash point for the row. The priest who had received Shah was kicked out by the TTD forcing him to retire as per the rules. The kicked out priest had again rushed to Shah giving scope for everyone to suspect as if the current row is political and is between the TDP and the BJP.

Charges of corruption are not new to the TTD and we have been hearing them year after the year. The money involved in various works or the huge spending of the TTD on various projects comes as baggage of corruption with the ruling party leaders taking lead. But this time, the issue is surrounding around the faith and practices at the temple. This is potentially strong enough to disturb the faith of the devotees. The charge that god was not given the teerdha prasadam for weeks together is not acceptable. Whoever is responsible for the same has to be punished.

There is a controversy over the government appointing a north Indian IAS officer as the temple executive officer. But, that was something to do with the administration and it did not disturb the faith of the devotees. But Ramana Deekshitulu’s allegations are connected to the faith of the people as his claims are about violation of practices.

The controversy that would hurt the religious sentiments of the people is not good either for the party in power or the people in place at the temple.

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Modi gives a chance to Naidu to hit at on TTD

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The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had made an attempt to take over the prestigious temples under the control of the Tirumala Tirupati Devastanams (TTD) in Tirumala. In the name of protected monuments, treating the temples as historically important, the ASI had sent a letter to the TTD seeking the list of such temples to be identified and then subsequently taken over for their protection. However, in no time, the ASI withdrew the letter suspecting public anger against that move.

Whether the ASI’s attempt has Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nod or not, the issue had come as handy for the State government to target the BJP leadership and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though yet to respond, the issue is likely to go handy for Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to target the Prime Minister. The Chief Minister is already launching war against the Prime Minister on denial of the special category status and other benefits to the State and the TDP is holding series of protest events across the State.

On Sunday, Anakapalli MP Muttamsetti Srinivas, popularly known as Avanti Srinivas, launched a day long hunger strike against Narendra Modi. There is at least one protest in the 13 districts of the State every day where the TDP is targeting the BJP and the prime minister. Besides the injustice done to the State, the TDP leaders are taking up issues like the demonetisation, scams and crime against women reported across the country to hit at the BJP and the Prime Minister.

Now, the attempt of the ASI to take over the TTD temples is yet another issue for the TDP, particularly Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to hit at the Prime Minister. The State Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu is already in the news hitting at the Centre on the terms of reference given to the fifteenth finance commission and is rallying the finance ministers of 11 states together against the BJP government and Narendra Modi’s leadership. The ASI would be yet another issue for the TDP to target the Prime Minister in the days to come.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

K Raghavendra Rao calls it fake news

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Veteran filmmaker K Raghavendra Rao who has a close association with TDP has been a member of TTD Trust Board from the past couple of years. There have been wide speculations that Raghavendra Rao has been appointed as the new TTD Chairman after the seat fell vacant from last year. KRR has been flown with wishes from all the corners after he has been appointed for the prestigious position. But the veteran director has a different story.

K Raghavendra Rao called the news fake and he clarified that he has not been approached for the role. He said that he has been serving Lord Venkateswara through SVSC Channel and is keen on planning some more new programs through the channel owned by TTD. Raghavendra Rao revealed that he is not keen on the position but he is quite interested in serving Lord Venkateswara through his work. The ace director has been away from films from some time and has been busy with the activities of SVSC channel owned by TTD.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

TTD to take action on employees of other religions

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TTD has identified around 44 employees working in TTD since 1989 belonging to other religions. TTD planning to take action on them as per the rule book. TTD EO Anil Kumar Singhal remarked that propaganda of other religions by TTD employees will not be tolerated.

TTD EO confirmed that he has already given notices to these 44 employees belonging to other religions. After taking the explanation from those employees, TTD will take efforts to re-allocate them to other government departments as per the rules. He also added, TTD kept a tab on those employees belonging to other religions and joined against rules before 1989.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Jagan flouts Tirumala Tirupati TTD norms yet again

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Jagan Refuses to Sign Declaration in Tirumala

Jagan is starting his foot march (Padayatra) from this Monday. Just 2 days before starting his padayatra, today, he visited Tirumala. He came to Tirumala in a traditional Hindu dress along with his close aides. All was well until TTD superintendent came with the forms of declaration to be signed, but it is then Jagan sprang surprise as he just ignored and moved on. Full details are as below.

In 1990, a government order was released (G.O. No. 311). (GO MS No. 311 of AP Revenue Endowments-1). As per this, – “It is now a mandatory rule for all those belonging to various faiths other than Hinduism

to sign a declaration form before entering the hill temple stating that they have faith in the presiding deity.” In line with this G.O.311, TTD’s act number 136 was incorporated in TTD rules. According to this rule, the people belonging to other religions must sign the formal declaration for Tirumala darshan. Even though TTD can not identify all non-Hindus visiting Tirumala and ask them to sign the declaration, TTD made it mandatory for the VIPs to sign the declaration.

When Sonia Gandhi visited TTD way back, she had signed the declaration form. But Jagan never signed the form though he is a christian. And this is not the first time. In 2012, after floating YSRCP, he visited Tirumala along with Bhumana Karunakara Reddy and denied to sign the form when TTD superintendent asked him to do so. Bhumana was former TTD chairman and he also did not insist Jagan to sign that time. Fast forward to 2017, again the same scene repeated. But this time TTD officials did not force him to sign. They just came and showed the forms. Jagan and co just ignored the forms and moved on. This triggered sort of controversy yet again. But immedeiately after this episode, Bhumana Karunakara Reddy gave statement that Jagan is staunch follwer of Hinduism.

Well, there could different repercussions for this episode. In fact, technically there is a catch here. Many people who convert to christianity follow that religion but they don’t bother to change the name of religion in their education or other certificates. That means, as per records they are still Hindus. Even while filing the nomination form (Form 2A of election commission) for contesting as Member of parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly (Form 2B of election commission) one need not reveal his or her religion or caste unless they are contesting in a reserved constituency (for Scheduled caste or Scheduled tribes) in elections. So, nobody knows which religion Jagan is claiming in his certificates and other official records- Hindu or Christian. Of course, his family follows protestant christian faith and that is known to all. Having one religion in certificate and following another is also not a crime as per supreme court verdicts as long as he is not receiving any benefit from the government because of that religion. So, If as per the certificates , Jagan is a Hindu, he need not sign TTD declaration. But if he is Christian as per records, he MUST have signed the declaration and showed his respect for the norms and government orders.

Forget about legal repercussions for some time, let’s see what kind of questions Jagan will have to face from people in this regard. To be frank, Jagan could attract most of the minority votes in 2014 – mainly because this vote bank shifted from Congress party to YSRCP as Congress lost its existence in AP. Moreover, Muslims mostly stay away from BJP and its alliance parties and they had no option other than YSRCP in 2014 in AP. But Jagan, after 2014 elections, came to the conclusion that his ‘Christian’ tag made Hindus kept him at bay and started various attempts to attract Hindus (and their votes). His recent meet with Chinna Jeeyar Swamy seeking his blessings is one such attempt. He also met Swarupananda Swamy and sought his blessings. His close associates are talking of doing ‘Yagas and Yagnas’, of late. And, Jagan today went for Tirumala Darshan. All of this is fine, but when the TTD superintendent came with those declaration forms to be signed, he simply ignored and moved on. If he is a Hindu as per records, in which case he need not sign, he can openly declare his faith to the people. But, as everyone knows, he can not do that. And if he is christian by faith as per records too, there is nothing wrong in that as anybody can practice any religion as per constitution but he must have signed the forms at TTD and show his respect for the norms. But, for some reason, he did not do that too.

Jagan seems to be somehow losing his strong base in minorities by giving unconditional support to Modi and BJP at times and at the same time he is not gaining the new base in majorities by doing this kind of silly mistakes. One thing that he, or for that matter any political leader needs to understand is this – they can not simply pretend on something and gain political advantage. People are not that gullible. Don’t take people for granted !!!

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Northie as TTD EO draws flak from Pawan Kalyan and Swaroopananda

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The appointment of 1993 batch IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre, Anil Kumar Singhal, as the Executive Officer of the esteemed Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is mulled with controversies. Singhal, who was the resident commissioner of AP Bhavan, New Delhi, won the heart of the chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu but not the bureaucrats and politicians.

The government has ever since appointed IAS officers who belonging to South India to the TTD executive officer’s post. Those opposing the appointment claim that it is not mere IAS post but TTD EO should understand Hindu especially South Indian culture and TTD concords. They also said that it is very difficult for Singhal who hails from Himachal Pradesh to understand the TTD conventions and culture.

The IAS officer was allocated to Telangana after the bifurcation but he opted Andhra Pradesh. Allegedly Singhal played vital role in not only routing the Central funds but also framing the critical Special Package for the State. While on one hand Singhal seemingly has support of Telugu MPs, on the other hand speculations are rife that TDP government bowed to pressure from the central government and Sangh Parivar.

When there are allegations that North Indians are dominating South Indians, the first one to respond is obviously Jana Sena party chief Pawan Kalyan. He took to twitter and questioned, “Would they allow any South Indian to take up the administrative position of such scared shrine of Northern India like … “Amarnath Varanasi and Madhura etcetra…”

Taking it further Swami Swaroopananda Saraswati, terming the appointment as “unfortunate”, said if needed he would knock the doors of the court.

Nonetheless, Singhal who took charge on Saturday as the 25th TTD EO will be at the helm of temple for two years. He conducted a whirl wind inspection covering all the prominent places in Tirumala and also interacted with the pilgrims on Sunday. The road ahead of Singhal is tough, especially the never ending pilgrim-related problems, loss of over 200 crore rupees in the sale of laddus and distribution of funds to the tune of Rs. 125 crore for various projects. Several projects under TTD are not giving the expected results.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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