Re-Inclusion Of Man Dropped From Tirumala Tirupati Board Raises Eyebrows

The Andhra Pradesh government says AJ Sekhar is the local advisory committee president of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board or TTD in Chennai and as part of convention, whoever holds that post is included.

These 7 members will not have voting rights but will enjoy privileges on par with other Board members

Hyderabad:

The re-inclusion of a man as a special invitee to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board, who was removed when Chandrababu Naidu was Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, has raised eyebrows.

AJ Sekhar, who also goes by the name Sekhar Reddy, was removed after more than Rs 100 crore in cash and jewellery were recovered from his house in Chennai following raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI in 2016. AJ Sekhar subsequently also went to jail in a money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate.

The Andhra Pradesh government says Sekhar is the local advisory committee president of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board or TTD in Chennai and as part of convention, whoever holds that post is included.

The other special invitees include B Karunakar Reddy, a YSR Congress MLA from Tirupati who has served as TTD Chairman before and presidents of the Local Advisory Committees of six cities - Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

These seven members will not have voting rights but will enjoy privileges on par with other Board members.

Sources say the First Information Reports of FIRs in the two cases were dropped as no chargesheet has been filed against Sekhar.

Sekhar reportedly wrote to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy seeking re-induction into the TTD Board, saying that he had been "unfairly treated in the hurried removal of my membership of the TTD Board without any verification or inquiry."

YV Subba Reddy, who is Jaganmohan Reddy's uncle, was appointed as TTD Chairman shortly after Jaganmohan Reddy took over and the Board has been constituted three months later.

Last week, the Governor had increased the number of members on the Board from 19 to 29. New members were accommodated from other states. Critics say it was done to give influential positions to many old business associates and political colleagues.  

CS Rangarajan, Convenor of the Temples Protection Movement and the priest of Chilkur Balaji temple near Hyderabad, alleges that the TTD has been filled up with politicians and industrialists. 

"It appears this government is repeating the mistakes of erstwhile governments which put liquor barons as chairmen of the TTD. We expected transparency but we are being let down again. There are many MLAs in the Board which makes it a body full of political persons being rehabilitated," says Mr Rangarajan. 

Adikesavulu Naidu, a liquor baron, was made TTD chairman by Chandrababu Naidu in 2003 and got a second term under YS Rajasekhar Reddy as he had switched parties by then.

The new Board has eight members from Andhra Pradesh, four of them YSR Congress MLAs. There are two industrialists from Telangana, Jupally Rameshwara Rao of My Home group and Damodar Rao of Namaste Telangana newspaper, both close to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.

Also included is B Parthasaradhi, Chairman of Hetero Drugs, a pharma company that was named accused in cases filed against Jaganmohan Reddy, and from Tamil Nadu, N Srinivasan, famous as former BCCI president but who also had dealings with Jaganmohan Reddy through his India Cements.

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