Responding to a series of allegations by political opponents, Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has said that a judicial panel will audit the jewels inventory at the Tirupati temple every two years.
In Chennai last month, former head priest at Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam Ramana Dikshitalu had said he suspected that the temple funds could have been diverted and some valuable ancient jewels misappropriated.
The hereditary priests had become helpless after 1996 when the Andhra Pradesh Government took over the temple’s administration, the priest was quoted as saying. According to the priest, only new jewellery was being handed over by the administrators to adorn the presiding deity of the temple, wondering what happened to the old and invaluable ones.
Demanding an open audit of the jewels and maintenance of digital records, he said only a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation will reveal the truth on how temple funds were being utilised.
Dikshitulu said that the administration was indulging in crass commercialisation of the temple, including intervention in cases of VIP darshans and shortening rituals besides. Attacking the administrators for their lack of respect for the agama shastra (scripture defining temple traditions and rituals), he said the traditional priests were being put to a lot of hardships with their privileges being snatched.
Following the head priest's allegations, actor turned politician Pawan Kalyan, the head of Jana Sena party in Andhra Pradesh, also criticized the incumbent government of hiding the truth about the temple jewellery inventory.
Chief Minister Naidu's promise to get a judicial panel to look into the state of the Tirupati temple jewels once in every two years is seen by many as a direct response to Kalyan's allegations.
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