What will happen to the Rs400 billion in assets?
Hyderabad: An official and sketchy estimate puts at Rs400 billion the value of the assets left behind by Satya Sai Baba, undoubtedly the most influential spiritual leader India has seen in recent decades.
Apart from leaving an unbridgeable void and confusion among millions of his devotees about his successor, people are also perplexed about who will take care of the massive network of institutions and organisations set up by Sai Baba since he proclaimed his mystical position more than six decades ago.
Even as Sai Baba was lying in the intensive care unit for last four weeks, his abode Puttaparthi was agog with rumours of siphoning of funds and a behind-the-scene tussle on who would succeed him.
However Dr Anil Kumar, a close confidante of Sai Baba and a translator of his speeches, said, "There is no question of any funds here. Ever transaction takes place through cheques. Every penny is accounted for."
As far as his spiritual seat is concerned, Sai Baba had predicted in the 1960s that his successor would be one Prema Sai, who would be born in Gunaparthy village of Mandya district in Karnataka. He repeated this many times later.
Meanwhile, all the eyes are focused on the Satya Sai Central Trust (SSCT) and the immediate question uppermost in the minds of his devotees and followers was who would take Baba's place as head of this all-powerful body.
As Sai Baba was not married and had no children, attention is now focused on his nephew R.J. Ratnakar, the son of Sai Baba's younger brother Janaki Ram. He is the only member of Sai Baba's family to be included in the SSCT. He was brought in only last year, in place of his father who died five years ago.
However insiders say Sai Baba always discouraged any of his relatives trying to treat the assets and organisation of the trust as a family concern.
News of tussle
After Sai Baba, the second most powerful figure in the trust is K. Chakravarthy, the secretary of the trust and a former IAS officer,
The other members of the central trust include influential people like former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagwati, industrialists V. Srinivasan of TVS group and Indul Lal Shah, former chief vigilance commissioner S.V. Giri, and three foreigners — Michael Goldstein, John Hislop, and Isaac Tigrett Burton. The latter reportedly contributed about Rs300-crore fund to Sri Satya Sai Superspecialty Hospital.
While all the affairs of Sai Baba's institutions and organisations will be run by the central trust, there were speculations that a tussle was on between Ratnakar and Satyajit, the personal caretaker of Sai Baba, to become the head of the trust. Whoever becomes the head will have the power to issue cheques jointly with another member of the Trust.