Naresh responds to MAA controversy
MAA's key office-bearers President Shivaji Raja, Treasurer Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao and Executive Vice-President Srikanth had in the morning held a press meet in the wake of allegations of misappropriation of funds by them. The controversy is over a MAA event held with Megastar Chiranjeevi in the US a few months ago. In refuting the objections raised by General Secretary Naresh, they said that they are innocent.
In the evening, Naresh held a press meet and presented his side of the story. He said that he is very much interested in instituting a fact-finding committee, for which 10 out of 16 executive members have agreed recently. However, Shivaji Raja and some others don't want such a committee to be installed, he suggested.
"The minutes of the meetings held in the last one year were recorded. But the entire data stands erased now. How did this happen?" Naresh asked. It's a criminal offence, he added.
Naresh revealed that, during an executive committee meeting held in MAA recently, many grilled Shivaji Raja about the funds. "When media reports were quoted, even those in high positions used unparliamentary language against the media during the meet. They said that MAA is not answerable to the press. But I believe in press freedom," Naresh observed.
"Initially, they said that Chiranjeevi garu will do two events to raise Rs. 2 Cr. But they made it just one event in the end. I don't know why," he said.
"I am the one who is interested in a fact-finding committee. But some people don't want it. I am not saying there was embezzlement of funds. I am saying let a committee find the truth. To say things like 'I will tonsure my head if I am found to have committed any wrong' (as said by Shivaji Raja) is childish nonsense," Naresh added. He said that he favoured a high-powered committee comprising retired IAS officers and judges to find out the truth. "This is public money. Five crores is huge. Let the government step in," he demanded.
"In the past, I was a General Secretary of the BJP. I was in charge of 20 lakh cadre. MAA is just a 800-member body. I know how to handle things," he said.
"I am staying away from the MAA foreign tours (for fund-raising). Mahesh Babu has agreed to participate. I won't raise any objections to the tour," Naresh said. "I recently met with Chiranjeevi garu and briefed him about the happenings at MAA. Like a gentleman, he told me he will deliberate with concerned heads and get back to me," Naresh said.
But why didn't Naresh favour a press meet until the MAA President came out in the open? "It was decided that a press meet should be held only after a fact-finding committee was set up," Naresh answered.
He described Srikanth (who is on the side of Shivaji Raja) as a wonderful person. "I know him and he is a perfect guy," Naresh said.
"I am dissatisfied with the way the Sri Reddy issue was mishandled by MAA," he said