The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) on Monday denied the charges made by Dr AV Ramana Dikshitulu, former Chief priest of the Tirumala temple, of alleged financial irregularities at the temple. Dikshitulu said that some costly diamond jewels belonging to the presiding deity were missing from the temple. He also accused Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu of routing Rs 100 crore (approx) of temple funds for his political purposes.
Dr Dikshitulu (69) made these allegations after retiring as a chief priest last week after the Trust Board of TTD passed a resolution stating that all hereditary priests (mirasi archakas) have to retire on reaching the age of 65 years. After the retirement, Dikshitulu.
“A pink diamond which was gifted by the Maharaja Thanjur before Independence to Lord Venkateshwara at the Tirumala temple has surfaced at an auction in Geneva last year. It belongs to TTD but it has gone missing,” Dikshitulu told The Indian Express. Dr Dikshitulu has also said that ancient valuable ornaments kept beneath the temple’s kitchen (constructed in 1150 A.D.) were also missing.
“The kitchen where the ‘prasadam’ (offering) for the Lord is prepared cannot be closed entirely. It is disrespectful to prepare the `prasadam’ meant for the Lord outside the sacred kitchen,” Dikshitulu told IE.
However, TTD has dismissed the allegations of misappropriation of funds. TTD’s Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal and a Board member Bonda Umameshwara Rao has said that nothing is missing. Speaking to IE, they said, “Ramana Dikshitulu is making baseless allegations as he has some grievances. We have a neat record of all the ornaments belonging to the deity and it is all accounted for.”
Some Hindu groups also staged a protest outside the Tirupati temple demanding a thorough probe into the charges made by Dr Ramana Dikshitulu. BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy said that he will file a petition in the apex court seeking a probe into the allegations.
I have decided after seeing the grossly illegal exercise of power of TTD in sacking the Head Priest Ramana Dikshitalu. Hence I will move the SC for quashing the sacking and seek also a Court monitored CBI investigation into the financial misappropriation of Temple funds by TTD
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) May 21, 2018
Meanwhile, TTD board is likely to digitize all the jewels in 3-Dimension format and will keep them for display at a museum. “The scriptures forbid the display of certain things. If it is possible we will digitize all the jewels in 3D format and put them for display at a museum,” Singhal told IE.