YSRCP-TDP political war over Simhachalam lands heats up

A view of Simhachalam temple in Visakhapatnam
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A view of Simhachalam temple in Visakhapatnam

Highlights

  • Ruling party leaders say auditing will be done to check the irregularities
  • TDP leaders allege that the ruling party is trying to divert the attention of public

Visakhapatnam: A war over Simhachalam temple lands heats up between the ruling party and the Opposition.

Following the removal of former Union Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju as chairman of the Simhachalam Trust Board, the state government had appointed Sanchaita Gajapathi Raju as chairperson.

For close to 15 months, no controversy erupted over the MANSAS Trust in Vizianagaram and at Simhachalam Devasthanam in Visakhapatnam. Challenging the appointment of Sanchaita in the High Court, Ashok Gajapathi Raju was reinstated after the judgment came in favour of him.

Since then, allegations against Ashok's corruption intensified. Rajya Sabha member V Vijayasai Reddy alleged that Ashok's father PVG Raju had not set up MANSAS Trust to serve the people and lands were diverted into the trust just a day before the Abolition Act came into force. Similarly, MP alleged that Ashok misused Simhachalam temple lands worth thousands of crores of rupees.

He also clarified that many irregularities took place in the MANSAS Trust when Ashok was its chairman. Following which, an inquiry has been ordered involving the joint collectors of Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts.

Meanwhile, tourism minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao and MP Vijayasai Reddy alleged that 730 acres of lands belonging to Simhachalam temple had been removed from the register and made in favour of the TDP leaders. The then executive officer K Rama Chandra Mohan, chairman Ashok Gajapathi Raju and several TDP leaders were involved in the scam, the MP said.

During Sanchaita's tenure as chairperson over a year, MANSAS Trust and Simhachalam temple land records were examined in detail. However, there were no allegations that cropped up during her tenure, alleged TDP leaders.

While the TDP leaders say the ruling party leaders are making baseless allegations against Ashok because he has been targeted for being reinstated as the chairman of the Devasthanam and the trust, YSRCP leaders announced that the MANSAS Trust was not audited for the past ten years and would soon conduct a 'forensic' auditing.

Ever since Ashok replaced Sanchaita as chairperson, politics in Visakhapatnam has revolved around lands.

TDP leaders are questioning the YSRCP's silence over the temple lands for the past year. TDP's Visakhapatnam parliamentary constituency president Palla Srinivasa Rao said, "TDP leaders are questioning what they were doing for the past year. The YSRCP leaders are making such baseless allegations to divert the attention of the public from the issue of 'sale' of Visakhapatnam. The government is selling core area lands in Visakhapatnam under the Mission Build AP."

Meanwhile, the exercise of terminating Ashok from the trust board is doing the rounds among the political circles.

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