Ex-Governor V Shanmuganathan's 'conduct' came as a surprise and shock to BJP
A constant feature at every BJP press conference in Parliament House, where he sat next to the party spokesperson, Shanmuganathan never received the media attention he has invited now.
Before becoming governor, Shanmuganathan had spent several years in the national capital where he used to live in a room adjacent to the BJP headquarters. He served as BJP parliamentary party office secretary for a few years before his assignment to the northeast.
Though he used to be a constant feature at every BJP press conference in Parliament House, where he sat next to the party spokesperson or leader holding forth, he never received the media attention he has invited now.
A former RSS pracharak from Tamil Nadu, Shanmuganathan used to write for the ‘Organiser’. When he had taken ill and underwent an operation for a heart ailment before the 2014 elections, the party took care of his expenses.
Allegations of sexual harassment against Shanmuganathan — who was given additional charge of the Arunachal Pradesh governor when JP Rajkhowa quit last September — have embarrassed the BJP. He is only the second governor in recent times, after Congress leader ND Tiwari, who quit following such charges.
Once the issue hit headlines in Delhi, the BJP was quick to remove Shanmuganathan. Assam governor Banwarilal Purohit was given charge of the Meghalaya Raj Bhavan. Shanmuganathan also officiated as the Manipur governor for a year till 2016.
During his stint as Manipur governor, Shanmuganathan angered the state intelligentsia when he asked a gathering of culture icons from the state to define culture in hundred words and send it to him.
He announced that those who described it best would get an invitation for coffee at Raj Bhavan and receive cash awards. After the incident sparked widespread resentment and with Manipur assembly polls fast approaching, the NDA government relived him of the Manipur assignment.
Following allegations of molestation by a woman who appeared for an interview for the PRO post in Raj Bhavan and a written complaint lodged by the Meghalaya Raj Bhavan staff that the governor had turned the place into a “young ladies club”, Shanmuganathan the Centre asked him to put in his papers on Thursday.
“We feel he is demeaning the position of the head of the state. He is rude, arrogant, temperamental and untruthful. Above all, he has seriously compromised the dignity of the Raj Bhavan and unfortunately made the Raj Bhavan into a young ladies club,” the staff letter alleged. Shanmuganathan denied allegations that the job aspirant was molested. He later visited Shaktipeeth of Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati before leaving for New Delhi.
“NDA government in the Centre does not want this issue to snow ball into a political issue as already Congress has gone hammer and tongs on the issue,” said a BJP insider.
Raj Bhavan staff also raised questions on some appointments made by the governor like personal cook and personal assistant. Both were women. “Personal assistants relatives and friends, mostly young ladies lavishly used the facilities of Raj Bhavan. Personal assistant accompanied him on tours,” the letter alleged.
“Raj Bhavan already has a permanent medical set up with a doctor and two assistants. Additionally a nurse for day duty has been appointed by the governor. Recently, he has appointed a private nurse on night duty also,” the letter said.
“On 15th to 25th October, 2016, a so-called lady nurse was provided free stay and food but finally left alleging that the governor misbehaved with her at night. Other socalled lady nurses also stayed at Raj Bhavan at different points of time.
On November 7, 2016, when 10 female candidates came for their first interview for the posts of PRO, they were surprised to see that only female candidates were called and when they inquired about it and raised suspicion, five male candidates were called only as a formality the next day. Out of the five, 2 male candidates were selected for the next interview just as eyewash,” the letter alleged.