Vijayawada: A major shock to the chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government with the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday scrapped the GO-72 appointing Sanchaita Gajapati as the chairperson of Simhachalam Devasthanam and Mansas Trust.
The High Court ordered re-instatement of former Union minister and TDP senior leader Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju as the chairperson. Scrapping the GO by the state, the High Court finalised that the appointment of Sanchaita was not valid. The verdict came on a petition filed by Ashok Gajapati Raju challenging his removal as chairman.
Sanchaita is the second daughter of Pusapati Anand Gajapathi Raju, the brother of Ashok Gajapathi Raju. Both Anand and Ashok are the sons of P.V.G. Raju, who headed the Mansas Trust, owned by the Vizianagaram royal scions.
In March 2020, the Andhra Pradesh government appointed Sanchaita as the chairman of the governing body of the Simhachalam Temple. The controversy took off when she was also appointed chairman of the Mansas Trust Board, which was owned by the Vizianagara kings. The government has stated in GO that the accumulator has been given the opportunity in a rotational manner.
The AP government argued that Sanchaita was given an opportunity in a rotational manner. But, Ashok Gajapathi Raju's counsel made it clear that only elders should be the trustees as both Mansas and Simhachalam Devasthanam Board are trusts.
Ashok Gajapathi Raju has been chairman of the trusts after the death of his elder brother Anand Gajapathi Raju in 2016. With the AP High Court's verdict, Ashok Gajapathi Raju was showered with congratulatory messages on social media. Several people felt that justice was done to Ashok Gajapathi Raju was the only person eligible to continue as the hereditary trustee of Mansas Trust and Simhachalam Devasthanam.
The Mansas Trust has control over nearly 15,000 acres worth more than Rs 50,000 crore in both the Godavari district and north Coastal Andhra. There are many temples and their lands also under the control of the Trust.