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.