The Pusapati family is in news again, this time with a fresh controversy. Urmila Gajapathi half-sister of Sanchaita Gajapathi took to media to express her displeasure over the humiliation faced by her and her mother Sudha Gajpati Raju, the second wife of late Anand Gajapathi Raju. Urmila complained that the members of the royal family insulted her and her mother on the day of ‘Sirimanothsavam’ by not allowing them to sit in the front row of the terrace of the fort to watch the procession. While Sudha and Urmila were present at the fort to watch the procession, MANSAS trust Chairperson Sanchaita expressed displeasure and ordered the officials to make the mother – daughter duo leave the event. For centuries it has been a tradition for the Pusapati royal family to watch the Pydithalli Sirimanu procession from the Vizianagaram fort.
The appointment of Sanchaita Gajapathi Raju as a Chairperson of Simhachalam temple trust and MANSAS trust created a controversy in the state. Many people were surprised by the government’s decision to choose Sanchaita over her uncle Ashok Gajapathi Raju who is also the legal heir of the Pusapati family.
Till Anand Gajapathi Raju was alive, he was the chairman of all the family trusts including the MANSAS trust. After his death in 2016, Ashok Gajapathi Raju took charge of these trusts. Urmila Gajapathi Raju said that she was appointed as the board member of the MANSAS trust, but she has not taken the oath of office till date. Despite writing emails to the concerned officials no action has been taken. The YSRCP government took an overnight decision to abolish the old trust board and form a new trust board with Sanchaita as the Chairperson of Simhachalam temple and MANSAS trust. This created a rift in the family, with Ashok Gajapathi Raju openly expressing his displeasure over the appointment and seeking legal remedy.
MANSAS trust has more than 14,000 acres of land in North Andhra and Godavari districts. The trust is running various schools including an engineering college. YSRCP’s special preference for Sanchaita raises several questions, especially among the locals as she had rarely visited the place and was born in Hyderabad, studied in Delhi and has no emotional bond with the place.
There were also rumours that Sanchaita is a practising Christian and it is against the board rules to appoint a person who is a non–Hindu as the Chairperson. The decisions taken by MANSAS trust since Sanchaita Raju assumed power have mostly been controversial. It was reported that Sanchaita Gajapathi Raju requested the State government to privatize Maharaja College in Vizianagaram.
Students protested against the trust’s decision to privatize the college as Maharaja College is one of the oldest institutions in South India which provides quality education to the students belonging to the low-income groups at nominal fees. If the college is privatized both the staff and students will suffer as the college will longer get funds from the government and the fees will be increased.
The recent actions of Sanchaita Raju attracted controversy once again and critics raised questions about the appointment of Sanchaita who lacks experience. It is evident that the Andhra Pradesh government is trying to take advantage of Sanchaita’s lack of experience and manage the crores of properties owned by the trust.