Puttaparthi: Even as millions of devotees of Sathya Sai Baba wait with bated breath to know who will steer his mission from now on, the members of Sathya Sai Central Trust on Thursday vowed to continue the humanitarian works of the late spiritual guru, while maintaining that he had not executed his will.
Addressing a press conference here, the members of Sathya Sai Central Trust also sought to dispel speculations about Sai Baba’s death and on the future of his massive empire estimated to be worth Rs 40,000 crore.
Board member Venu Srinivas said, “Till now Sri Sathya Sai was the chairman, however after his death, any decision on how to manage the trust administration will be taken by the trustees of the Sathya Sai Central Trust.”
Other board trustees are SV Giri, k Chakravarty, Indulal Shah, Justice PN Bhagawati, Naganand and also RJ Ratnakar, nephew of Sathya Sai Baba; he had performed the last rites.
Providing details of educational institutions, hospitals, landed properties and other charitable initiatives managed by the trust, the board members said the trust gets funds through voluntary donations but expressed inability to guess the estimated value of assets owned by the trust. They however maintained that the value is highly exaggerated.
“We have given details of all the properties the trust owns in the list circulated. These properties are used for various charitable activities. They are not available for trade, commercial use, lease or disposal. Their value is inconsequential. There are a number of institutions which were inspired by Sai Baba, but are run by respective bodies which are not under the control of the trust.”
“We emphatically deny accusations of financial irregularities let loose by interested parties. We are maintaining accounts scientifically, getting the same audited periodically, and statements and returns are filed with the respective authorities including Income Tax department, under various statutes,” the board said.
The trustees also made a reference to Satyajit- the personal care taker of the Sai Baba, whose absence during the burial ceremony triggered speculation of a rift between family members of the departed spiritual guru and the trustees over the control of various organizations run by him.
Speculation is rife in the pilgrim town that Baba had left a will naming Satyajit as the trust head. The 33-year-old was very close to the spiritual leader and remained by his bedside till his last breath after 28 days of treatment at the Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital.
The members of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust told reporters that Satyajit is an ex-student of a higher educational institution set up by the trust, and that Sri Sathya Sai Baba had personally chosen him for attending to him.
Replying to questions whether Satyajit would be given a key responsibility in the trust, the trustees said they have nothing more to add to it.
The trustees also strongly denied that neither the state nor the central government has expressed any inclination to interfere with the trust’s affairs.
The board said that all the VVIPs who visited Puttaparthi to pay their last respects to Baba, have pledged full support for the future activities of the trust.
About doubts expressed about treatment given to Baba, the trust said periodical bulletins were issued about his condition, and that all the relatives of Sathya Sai Baba, who wanted to see him, were allowed to see him in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
The development comes in the wake of reports that the Andhra Pradesh government is keen to have a bigger say in the Sathya Sai Central Trust amidst fears of a power struggle.