Puttaparthi, April 28: Trustees of the Sri Satya Sai Central Trust today said Sai Baba did not have any successor in his mind and that a new Chairman of the Trust may be elected next week, as they sought to put up a united front asserting there were no differences among them.
A day after Sai Baba was laid to rest in this pilgrim town in Andhra Pradesh, the Trustees also said the 86-year-old spiritual leader had left no will and that his "caretaker" Satyajit was just an "employee" of the Trust chosen by him for some personal work and nothing more than that.
"Election of Chairman may happen next week when the Trustees and Council of Management will meet. There is no will of the Baba as far as we know nor did he have his successor in mind," the trustees said at their maiden press conference at the Satya Sai Indoor Stadium here.
The Trustees while asserting they had no individual "vested interests" also sought to drive home the point that there was no difference of opinion among them.
"We have no individual vested interests. But, there are certain vested interests that are tring to defame the fair name of the Trust, its functionaries and the Trustees," the Trustees said.
"We don't want to name anybody but there are efforts to defame us," said Trustee Venu Srinivasan, a former chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII), at the crowded press conference in the company of his other Trust colleagues.
"The traditions that Baba established in various practices have been crystallised. The glorious traditions...We will follow in letter and spirit and maintain the same values.
Both the Central and the AP governments have assured that they would not interfere with the Trust activities,"
Srinivasan said while speaking on behalf of the Trustees and the Council of Management.
"They told us that the governments were neither interested nor was there any proposal to interfere with the Trust activities.
In fact, we never approached the government for aid at any time," he pointed out.
Maintaining that the value of Trust properties was "hugely exaggerated" by the media, Srinivasan and another Trustee Naganand said the value was always subjective.
"Also, in the light of baseless, irresponsible and false accusations of defalcation of gold, valuable artefacts and even money, it is emphatically stated that the accusations are wholly untrue and it is believed these have been engineered by certain vested interests," Srinivasan said.
"The Trust properties are for a specific purpose. Every single piece of land owned by the Trust is for charitable purposes and the properties are not available for sale or commercial exploitation," he said.
The Trust, henceforth, would be transparent and maintain the same values established by the Baba, he added. It was probably for the first time ever that Trustees of the Satya Sai Trust addressed a formal press conference.
"When Baba was alive, we never had an occasion to interact with the media," Srinivasan said.
On reports that a casket was ordered from a Bengaluru-based firm by the Trust 21 days prior to Baba's demise, the Trustees asserted: "We have not ordered any casket.
The casket arrived only after the Baba passed away. Not that it arrived ahead and we stored it somewhere. We have not ordered any casket in the first place."
Another Trustee and Supreme Court advocate S S Naganand said the Trust deed executed by the Baba himself had clearly specified the role of each Trustee.
"Last year the Baba himself expanded the Trust by appointing five Trustees and four members of the Council of Management.
The Trustees will take care of the Trust activities as enshrined in the Trust deed," Naganand said.
On who enjoyed the Trust's cheque signing power, the Trustee said it was the Baba alone who enjoyed it.
"Now that Baba is no more, at least two Trustees will get the cheque signing power. We will meet soon and take a decision on this," Baba's nephew and Trustee R J Ratnakar said.
Another prominent Trustee Justice (retd) P N Bhagavati said it was now for the students of Satya Sai institutions to carry the Baba's message of universal love forward.
On other issues that has come to the forefront during Baba's illness, the Trustees maintained that there was no reason for them to believe that "something was extraordinarily wrong" with his health prior to March 28, the day he was hospitalised.
They said it was the Baba himself who chose the doctors to attend on him and also the kind of treatment required.
"It was the Baba who decided which doctors to consult and the treatment required. In the hospital, the Baba was treated by doctors like 'any other patient'. The doctors did not treat him as 'God' and let him take care of himself. Baba was, no doubt, fragile but there was no reason for any of us to believe anything was extraordinarily wrong," Venu Srinivasan said.
He said hospital records of a patient could not be publicised as per Indian laws and hence the medical records of the Baba too were not revealed.
Two medical bulletins were, however, issued twice daily reflecting the factual position about the Baba's health and the treatment process.
Refuting reports that none of the Baba's family members was allowed into the ICU when he in the hospital, Ratnakar, a Trustee and Baba's nephew said: "All 27 days I was with him in ICU on behalf of the family. All members of the family could go once in a while and darshan of the Baba in ICU.
On allegations against Baba's "caretaker" Satyajit, the Trustees said he was an ex-student of the Satya Sai Institute and the Baba chose him for some personal work, nothing more than that.
"Satyajit was with the Baba for 20 years as the latter chose him. But Baba never took a decision to induct Satyajit into the Trust.
"He is just an employee of the Trust," the Trustees pointed out.
Asked about the "differences" between him and Satyajit, Ratnakar said he had a "reasonable good relationship" with Satyajit.
"There are no differences between us." Trust secretary and Baba's trusted aide K Chakravarthi said he quit Indian Administrative Service in 1981 and joined the Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning as Registrar.
Later he oversaw the implementation of the drinking water supply projects launched by the Trust.
"Subsequently, Baba wanted me to be the Secretary of the Trust.I am not a Trustee and only a secretary of the Trust. I am only a facilitator," Chakravarthi said. PTI