BJP leader from Tirupati Bhanu Prakash Reddy said the government would have to face the consequences if the proposal wasn’t withdrawn.

Tirumala temple in Tirupathi seen from a distance against the backdrop of hills with scattered crowdsIMAGE: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/NIKHIL B
news Controversy Sunday, October 18, 2020 - 15:36

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Board has clarified that it is unlikely to invest the TTD’s funds in Union government or state government securities. The announcement came after opposition over the possibility of the TTD investing some of its wealth, which is currently placed in fixed deposits, in various banks. A statement from the TTD said that the trust board had explored various options of investment, “in the backdrop of falling interest rate scenario in the wake of COVID pandemic”. Investing in Union or state government securities was also one of the options being considered, it said. 

However, the statement went on to clarify that no such investment has been made by the TTD so far, and the option may not be acted upon, “as the interest rates are going up, in the light of buoyancy on the economy in the wake of unlock guidelines 5.0.” The TTD is likely to continue to invest in fixed deposits in banks, the statement said. 

The TTD board is responsible for the operations and finances of one of the most popular and richest Hinud temples in the world — the Tirumala Venkateswara temple. Reports suggest that the TTD has around nine tonnes of gold reserves and around Rs 12,000 crore in fixed deposits in various banks. 

BJP leader and former TTD Board member Bhanu Prakash Reddy said that he has served legal notices over the matter to TTD authorities, including the TTD Chairman and Executive Officer. Speaking to TV 5, he alleged that the state government was planning to amend the provision for investing in Union government securities in The Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987, to allow for  investment in state government securities as well.

However, the TTD has clarified that there is no “hidden agenda” on part of the board, and that the investments were considered under the provision in Section 111 (3) of the Endowments Act, as well as a government order (GO 311) regarding TTD Rules issued on April 9, 1990. 

Section 111 (3) of the Endowments Act says, “All monies belonging to the funds of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams shall be deposited in such Bank or Treasury or be invested in such securities in accordance with such guidelines as may be issued by the government in this behalf.”

Bhanu Prakash Reddy had said that unless the proposal was withdrawn, apart from a legal battle, devotees would be mobilised for an “on-ground battle” as well. He told the media earlier on Saturday, before the clarification was issued, that if the government does not give up the idea of investing TTD funds in state government bonds, the TTD and the state government would be responsible for the “consequences”. 

Earlier in May, the TTD board withdrew its decision to auction a few properties deemed unviable, following major uproar against the move. 

Read:

TTD faces cash crunch to pay salaries: Why richest temple is reluctant to use reserves

After backlash, Tirumala Tirupati trust board decides not to auction any assets

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