Visakhapatnam: The recent visit by BJP national president Amit Shah to Sri Venkateswara temple on Tirumala Hills after the Karnataka elections and the chief priest of the temple Ramana Deekshitulu extending him courtesy could have irked Chandrababu Naidu Government leading to his ouster.
This was disclosed by Rama Deekshitulu himself on phone to a TV channel during a debate on the TTD controversy on Friday. “As the Chief Priest of the temple, I always felt it was my duty to receive VVIPs and important donors. I did the same in the case of Amit Shah and this perhaps might be not to the liking of the Government,” he opined.
He also disclosed that he always had special affection for Chandrababu Naidu who studied with him on the SV University campus in Tirupati. “I took my Ph.D.. in Molecular Biology and sacrificed lucrative foreign offers to stay back to serve the God. Whenever Chandrababu Naidu visited the temple, I always spent time with him, and arranged ‘Aaseervachanam’ (blessings) to him at the Ranganayaka mandapam,” he recalled.
Asked whether he was worried about his future, Ramana Deekshitulu said fortunately, he had some ancestral property which would take care of him. And he knew about this retirement issue was hanging fire for the past six months. But it was unfair to deprive the hereditary priests the right to serve the temple without reason, he felt, adding that he would take legal course.
To another question as to why he had to address a media conference in Chennai instead of at Tirumala, he replied that the local media had not been covering all the issues properly. Besides, there were some elders connected with the temple matters in Chennai, he explained.
Jewellery not traced
Ramana Deekshitulu also said that he had not seen the precious temple jewellery, donated by the legendary Vijayanagar king Srikrishna Devayaraya, Mysore Maharaja and others since 1996. Only imitation jewellery and ornaments were being given to the priests to decorate the idols. A very precious diamond called the ‘King Diamond’ was missing and the TTD officials had said it fell down and was broken accidentally. But a similar diamond came up for auction in Geneva recently which gave room for some suspicion, he stated.
“Till 1996, we were handling all ornaments and maintained them with care. We were made accountable so much so we paid the costs whenever some gem stones or gold went missing. This happens- the stones get dropped here and there and it is difficult to trace them sometimes.
Why, I paid Rs.37,000 once from my pocket towards restoring the jewellery,” he said.