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Who controls trust purse strings? The Rs 40,000 cr question

 Who controls trust purse strings? The Rs 40,000 cr question

Property worries: A screenshot of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Mediacl Sciences. Courtesy SSSIHMS

Who after Sai Baba? The intense competition among many claimants to his material legacy which was already afoot during the lifetime of the spiritual teacher, has gathered momentum after his death. There is no definitive estimation of the financial value of the assets under the control of  Sri Sathya Sai Baba Central Trust. Right now, guesstimates put it anywhere between Rs 40,000 crore and Rs1 lakh crore.

The trust has massive properties at Puttaparthi , Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, and places spread across the globe, including the USA. Besides it runs schools, colleges, super-specialty hospitals and drinking water projects. The money, collected chiefly through donations from devotees, involved is mind-boggling. This partly explains rumours that the Baba was kept out of public glare during his last days because of the ongoing succession tussle between several trustees, including his family members.

Wary of displeasing the devotees of the Baba, the Andhra Pradesh government is playing it safe now. It has already announced that it is not contemplating taking over the trust. However, aware of the repercussions if the succession battle turns nasty, it has formed a five-member committee, headed by a principal secretary, to oversee the smooth transfer of the reins of the trust.

The succession wrangle is expected to gather steam after the final rites on Wednesday. There prominent names doing the rounds at the moment are that of Ratnakar, son of Sai Baba's younger brother Janakiramaiah, Satyajit, a close confidante of the Baba and K Chakravarthi, a former IAS officer, who has been the secretary of the trust since 1994.


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Updated Date: Apr 27, 2011 16:46:31 IST