The controversy following the sensational allegations levelled by former Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) chief priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu fails to wane even after the administration sacked him on grounds that he had crossed the retirement age.
An online petition has been filed demanding Ramana Deekshituluās reinstatement as well as a probe into the alleged financial irregularities being committed by the authorities.
Ramana, who had been critical of the TTD administration at a recent press conference held in Chennai, made shocking allegations that the authorities were corrupt and that several ornaments belonging to the temple, particularly old jewellery, were missing. Claiming that the activities of the TTD authorities were fishy and non-transparent, he demanded an open audit on the ornaments and donations received by the temple. He also asked for a higher inquiry into the alleged financial irregularities.
Subsequently, the chief priest was sacked on Friday by the authorities on grounds that he exceeded the retirement age limit. Three other priests who also crossed the retirement age were shunted.
Claiming that the authorities were conducting a witch hunt against the chief priest, an online petition has been started by Pushpa Latha with the caption: āLet us raise voice to save Tirumala Balajiā. As on Tuesday the petition was signed by more than 4,700 people.
The petition states that there cannot be retirement for the priests and that they can perform their holy duties as long as they are mentally and physically active.
āPriests of Tirumala temple have not opted for a scale of pay with promotion benefits and are also not eligible for any post-retirement benefits. That being the case without the benefits of regular employment it would be unfair to insist on their retirement,ā the petition reads.
The petitioner also says that the TTD cannot remove the priests as they are not regular government employees but doing service to the temple without any financial help.
Faulting the decision of the TTD authorities who sacked Ramana, the petitioner states that Ramana was sacked because of the questions he raised.
With regard to Ramanaās suspicion that old ornaments donated by several kings like Sri Krishna Devaraja, Mysore Raja and Raghoji Bhonsle were missing, the petition demands an open audit of the jewellery and finances of the temple.
The petition also demands the constitution of a dharma parishad board which would take care of the issues and concerns of priests at the temple.
Besides these concerns, the petition also demands a CBI probe into the famous Tirupati laddus being sold in the black market, interference of government agencies in the affairs of the temple, and the alleged corruption by Srinivasa Raju, Joint Executive Officer of TTD.