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Sai Baba’s trust feud takes a political turn

Hyderabad: The Rs 35-lakh mysterious cash trail at the Sathya Sai Central Trust in Puttaparthi district of Andhra Pradesh has taken a political turn. After refusing to interfere in the trust affairs, the Kiran Reddy government has now asked the trustees to submit a factual report on the financial matters of the body.

“In the past, the trust was granted several exemptions. We have now asked the trust for a factual report about the finances and their plan, based on which we will take action,” said Andhra Pradesh Endowments Minister Ponnala Laxmaiah.

As cracks appear between the trust and Sathya Sai Baba’s family members, the Kiran Reddy government was under pressure to look into the matter.

Even as Chief Minister Kiran Reddy convened a high-level meeting with the state intelligence chief, the Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) feels its action too little, too late.

“Things wouldn’t have gone so bad had the government intervened at the right time. There is a great legacy there and the government needs to ensure it continues being so,” said Opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu.

Trustees RJ Ratnakar and V Srinivasan have already been served notices over the trust money seized on June 18. They will now record their statements on Saturday.

Meanwhile, trust members remain tight-lipped over what role Baba’s close aide and devotee Satyajit gets to play now.

“There is no controversy and everything is going on fine,” said Satyajit.

In life and in death, Sathya Sai Baba continues to be a source of enigma. And the recent cash haul has brought the focus back surrounding the Godman. While investigations proceed, the question on everybody’s mind is whether the state government can take charge of a trust that boasts of high-profile members?

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