The reinstatement of TDP leader and former Minister P.Ashok Ganapathi Raju by a High Court single judge bench has revived the hopes of Telugu Desam President N Chandrababu Naidu who saw the Maharaja Alak Narayana Society of Arts and Science (MANSAS) Trust as some sort of a Golden Goose.
The MANSAS Trust, established by P V G Raju, the Maharaja of Vijayanagara kingdom in 1958, owns thousands of acres of land, over a dozen educational institutions and is the caretaker of over 100 temples including the famous Simhachalam Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple. The founder of the Trust P V G Raju donated 11,288 acres to the Simhachalam Temple as per records.After the death of P V G Raju his eldest son Anand Ganapathi Raju became the chairman of the Trust. Anand Ganapathi Raju’s younger brother Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju became the chairman of the trust after the death of the elder brother in 2016.
While lands that belong to the trust became subject to encroachment from the very beginning the Trust properties were turned into the fiefdom of TDP president Chandrababu Naidu after Mr Ashok Ganapati Raju became the chairman.
In 1996-97 the Chandrababu Naidu Government converted the Simhachalam Temple lands that were under encroachment into ‘rythuvari pattas’ and asked the temple to take possession. The people who had possession of the land were happy, but the temple considered them “encroachers”.
The confused people launched an agitation and the subject came up for discussion in the Legislative Assembly. A House committee was appointed with 14 members to find a solution. The House Committee made its recommendations, but the Chandrababu Naidu Government ignored the recommendations and issued GO 578 on August 19,2000 fixing different rates for commercial and non-commercial holdings. Over 2,000 land holdings were identified but many rejected the Government Order. Mr Chandrababu Naidu and his cronies tried to make the best of the confusion and grab as much land as possible in the chaos.
But unfortunately for them a group of Swamijis under the banner of “Vaikhanasa Peetham” challenged the GO in the High Court in 2005 and the case is still in court even today.
Mr Chandrababu Naidu made an election promise to resolve the problem in 2014. At the first Cabinet meeting held in Visakhapatnam he said that the problem would be resolved in 100 days and some announcements were made subsequently. The issue was however put aside until just before the elections making the problem worse.
After the YSR Congress Party came to power in 2019 Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju was removed as chairman of the MANSAS Trust to rectify the situation.
According to the YSRCP stand the State Government was responsible for the properties of the charitable Trust. The daughter of Anand Gajapathi Raju, Sanchaita Gajapathi Raju was appointed as chairman in place of TDP leader Ashok Gajapathi Raju who was running the Trust like a party organisation.
A Single Judge Bench has reinstated Ashok Gajapathi Raju, but the AP government proposes to approach a full bench of the High Court seeking his removal. The government wants to go right up to the Supreme Court if necessary to achieve its goal.
The Government also wants to make public attempts by Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju to sell 100 acres that belong to a Leprosy Hospital run by the MANSAS Trust and bring out into the open another attempt to sell 115 acres of Trust land after getting a fake No Objection Certificate (NOC).
A long pending forgery case against Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju is going to also be reinvestigated on the occasion. It has been over ten years since the accounts of the Trust have not been audited. The Government is most concerned about the nearly 14,000 acres that are still in the books of the Trust.