The chief priest of the Tirumala Venkateshwara temple in Andhra Pradesh has said that the administrators of the temple were swindling money, reported The News Minute. The temple is run by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, which is an independent trust. AV Ramana Deekshitulu called for an audit of donations that the temple receives and how it was being spent. He also demanded a probe into the alleged financial irregularities.

During a press conference held in Chennai on Tuesday, Deekshitulu said, “It’s unfortunate that we (hereditary priests), who for generations dedicated ourselves to temple service, are so helpless today”, according to The New Indian Express. He alleged that since the Andhra Pradesh government “took over the reins” of the temple 22 years ago, an inventory of the jewellery that adorns the deity has not been made. “Of late, only the newer jewellery is given to adorn the Lord,” he said. “What happened to the ancient ornaments? An open audit should be done. Digital records should be made for transparency.”

Deekshitulu added that the priests of the temple have filed a petition against the administrators demanding transparency and also to bring the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam under the Right to Information Act, according to The News Minute. He said that copies of a memorandum seeking a probe into the administration and the role of the state government have been sent to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, reported The Times of India.

“Rules are being changed arbitrarily with the backing of the leadership,” he told The Times of India. “Sycophants of political leaders are destroying the sanctity of the temple and the performance of rituals of various sevas are being compromised.”

He also alleged that the authorities were damaging the temple structure by drilling holes into the walls and the floors and did not allow officials of Archaeological Survey of India “to enter the temple”. Deekshitulu added that special lines were made for VVIPs and traditional privileges of priests had been removed.

“The authorities have no respect for traditions or practices as laid down by agamas (vedic scriptures defining traditions in the temple),” he said, according to The New Indian Express. “This would result in devotees losing faith.”