Crucial meet of Sai trust after funeral

Baba`s death has left a big question mark on the future of his massive spiritual empire.

Hyderabad: The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust will meet to take some key decisions after Sathya Sai Baba`s last rites Wednesday, with his death leaving a big question mark on the future of his massive spiritual empire estimated to be worth Rs 40,000 crore.

With Sathya Sai Baba passing away Sunday, the trust will decide on how to carry forward its activities and who should lead it as Baba has apparently not named a successor.

The meeting will be taking place amid reports of a rift between some trust members and the relatives of Baba.

The powerful trust is also expected to take a key decision on whether Baba`s personal caregiver Satyajit should be included in the trust.

Speculation is rife in the pilgrim town of Puttaparthi since Baba`s death Sunday that he left a will naming Satyajit as the trust head. The spiritual leader is believed to have stated last year that Satyajit should get a key responsibility in the trust.

The 33-year-old was very close to the spiritual leader and remained by his bedside till his last breath after 28 days of treatment at the Sathya Sai Super-speciality Hospital.

Baba had praised Satyajit on many occasions for the care and services rendered by him. Ever since Baba was admitted to hospital March 28, a section of devotees at Prashanti Nilayam were unhappy with the presence of Satyajit.

Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Satyajit had come to Puttaparthi at the age of five. He studied at Satya Sai School and did his MBA from Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning with distinction.

As Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has ruled out government interference, the six members of the trust will decide its future.

All previous meetings of the trust were presided over by the founder and chairman Sathya Sai Baba. Thus it will be the first meeting without him since the trust was formed in 1972.

Though trust secretary K Chakravarthi has cheque-signing power, there was never an opportunity for him to exercise it. All the funds for trust activities in India and abroad were released only with Baba`s permission, according to sources close to Prashanti Nilayam.

The godman`s nephew RJ Ratnakar is the only family member on the trust and he is reportedly seeking a greater say in financial matters.

The trust members will be looking for guidance from the most respected member PN Bhagwati, former chief justice of India. He along with other well-known members SV Giri, Indulal Shah and Venu Srinivasan are expected to lay down fresh guidelines for the trust to carry on its activities.