The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) board has announced its decision to reinstate former chief priest at the Tirumala Sri Venkateswara temple Dr A V Ramana Deekshitulu as the ‘honorary chief priest.’
Addressing the media on Saturday, TTD Chairman YV Subba Reddy said that Deekshitulu will be serving a role as an advisor and will not be directly involved in the affairs of the temple.
Shortly after he addressed a press meet in May last year alleging financial irregularities by the TTD, Deekshitulu had been sacked from the post of the chief priest on the grounds of exceeding the retirement age.
In his press meet, Deekshitulu had also alleged that several old precious jewels were missing from Tirumala. Deekshitulu had previously earned a reputation for not toeing the line of TTD authorities. He had also demanded that the TTD must be brought under the ambit of the RTI, for transparency in its functioning. Deekshitulu had even moved the court with his allegations against the TTD, inviting a Rs 100 crore defamation suit.
However, in November this year, Deekshitulu was appointed as an 'Agama advisor', on par with the archakas or priests, giving him access to the temple again.
Meanwhile, speaking about some of the other key decisions made by the TTD Board on Sunday, Subba Reddy announced plans to build temples in other parts of India, including Mumbai, Varanasi and Jammu and Kashmir.
“Funds worth Rs 30 crore have been sanctioned for the construction of a temple in Mumbai. Similarly, in North India, the board has decided to write to the Jammu and Kashmir administration to ask for allotment of land to construct a temple. The board has received an appeal for the administration saying they will allot land for a temple. The board has also decided to construct a temple in Prime Minister Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, and has decided to write to the Uttar Pradesh government requesting allotment of land,” Subba Reddy said.
The TTD Chairman also announced the sanction of funds worth Rs 10 crore for temporary repairs on the ghat roads for safe travel of devotees, adding that an expert committee will be constituted to make decisions on long term repairs.
Another key announcement was the decision to set up a cyber-security wing, to control ‘negative publicity’ and to take action against spreading false news about the affairs of the TTD and the Tirumala temple on Whatsapp and other social media platforms. Subba Reddy also announced that the board has decided to file a Rs 100 crore criminal defamation case against a particular newspaper for publishing false news regarding the presence of the influence of the Christian faith at the temple.
“They can make personal comments or attack the party, but they cannot insult the deity,” Subba Reddy said.