The chief priest of the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala near here was replaced after he had made a series of corruption allegations against the temple administrators, sources said. A V Ramana Dikshitulu was made to retire today and replaced by A Venugopala Deekshitulu, the sources told PTI. He was handed over the retirement letter late last night, they said, adding copies of the letter were pasted on the wall of his residential quarters in the hill. In light of the recent resolution of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD) Board, Ramana Deekshitulu (69) is permitted to retire with immediate effect, sources said quoting the letter.
The board that manages the hill temple had on Wednesday last resolved to fix the retirement age of priests in all TTD-run temples, including the Tirumala shrine, as 65 with immediate effect. As a result, four priests, including Ramana Deekshitulu, had to leave the shrine as they had been working even after crossing the age of 65, they said. Reacting to the decision on the retirement age, Ramana Dikshitulu had told reporters here that he along with three other priests in the TTD would move the court if their services were affected by the decision.
On learning about the chief priest’s allegations that were reported in the media in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister, KE Krishnamurthy, had on Thursday directed the TTD board to take action against him. Meanwhile, YSR Congress Party chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, had in a tweet yesterday said it was wrong to fix retirement age for the hereditary priest, who had allegedly questioned the TTD board on corruption and violation of norms in the conduct of rituals at the hill shrine.