Monday, April 25, 2011

'Successor of Sai Baba unlikely soon, trust will take work forward'

HYDERABAD: Sathya Sai Baba's death has left a huge question mark on the future of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, which is said to control assets whose worth could range anywhere from Rs 40,000 crore to over Rs 1 lakh crore. The cause of the anxiety is the dispute among some trust members, evident from anonymous letters sent to cops in recent weeks. 

Sai Baba was the chairman of the central trust and the only person with cheque signing authority. The central trust is expected to lead, but what if its members do not resolve their disputes? 

Unlike other godmen, Sai Baba had maintained close links with his kin and they are now seeking a role. Baba's nephew R J Ratnakar, a cable operator and gas agency owner, is a member of the trust and is seeking a bigger role. 

Sai BabaSathya Sai Baba's nephew R J Ratnakar, a member of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, is seeking a bigger role for himself. Ratnakar earned a trust seat after his father R Janakaramaiah, Sai Baba's younger brother, died. 

Trust functionaries like secretary K Chakravarthy would rather have the organization run by professionals. 

Indications are that other trust members like former chief justice of India P N Bhagwati and former central vigilance commissioner S V Giri are aligned with Chakravarthy's thinking. Chakravarthy quit the IAS to devote himself to the work of Sai Baba. 

Evidence of dispute among trustees surfaced in the form of benami letters received by the district police last fortnight, alleging wrongdoing by some trust members. Pamphlets distributed in the pilgrim town last week also sought to target a key functionary of the trust. Compounding the problems are some politicians who have jumped into the fray. 

To add to the problem, the central trust deed registered on September 2, 1972, with the assistant commissioner (endowments) office in Ananthapur, is silent about who should succeed the founder trustee, Sathya Sai Baba. The Central Trust deed clearly states that any change of trustees will happen with the approval of the founder trustee and the founder trustee would have all the powers to appoint or remove any trustee. But there is no word about alternative arrangements in the absence of the founder trustee. 

The central trust is one of the many trusts carrying on the work of Sai Baba. But in the deeds relating to these trusts there is clarity about the trustees, their appointment and tenure. 

The Andhra Pradesh government at present is not seeking to meddle in the affairs of the Sai Central Trust. This was stated by the chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy in Puttaparthi hours after Sai Baba passed away. 

Sources close to the central trust said that there will be no successor to Sai Baba soon and the trust will continue to take forward work entrusted by the Baba. ''May be the money used will come from the subsidiary trusts since nobody else has cheque signing authority in the Central Trust,'' an analyst said.

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