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28 Jan 2017

Preachy pulpit cracks - Rasleela charge fells ex-pracharak governor, moral outrage on film set

V. Shanmuganathan
TT, Jan. 27: The Sangh parivar, some of whose activists love to play self-styled moral police and whose pracharaks are brought up on a strict diet of celibacy, is finding itself sucked into an unlikely scandal in an unlikely place.
V. Shanmuganathan, a former RSS pracharak , has resigned as Meghalaya governor after he was accused of transforming the Raj Bhavan in Shillong into a "young ladies' club".
"It has become a place where young ladies come and go at will on direct orders of the governor.... Many of them have direct access to his bedroom," as many as 80 Raj Bhavan employees have written to the President and the Prime Minister.
Shanmuganathan, a Madras University political science post-graduate gold medallist who often claims to have dedicated his life to the nation after being motivated by Swami Vivekananda and RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, has denied the charges but put in his papers last night. President Pranab Mukherjee accepted the resignation today.
Quoting a woman who had applied for the job of a public relations officer, the media in Shillong had reported that the governor hugged and kissed her during the interview.
This is probably the first instance of a governor being forced to step down following a revolt by his staff.
However, a sex scandal in a Raj Bhavan is not unheard of - but here, too, the parivar has scored an own goal.
Veteran Congress leader N.D. Tiwari had little option but to quit after tapes surfaced showing purported compromising scenes in the Andhra Raj Bhavan when he was governor there. Unfortunately for the BJP, Tiwari joined the party last week - an association the party must be dying to live down in the wake of the latest Raj Bhavan scandal in Shillong.
The Congress, which was already skewering the BJP for Vinay Katiyar's sexist remarks on Priyanka Gandhi, had twisted the knife in the wound yesterday. "The (Meghalaya) governor converted Raj Bhavan into a land for rasleela . This is not the only incident, the memorandum (of the employees) cites the incident of a nurse being harassed when she was in Raj Bhavan on night duty," Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said.
Civil society groups today demanded an inquiry against the outgoing governor following allegations that he had "seriously compromised" the dignity of the Raj Bhavan.
The RSS declined to react on record but a leader said in private he had been shocked by the charges against the former pracharak .
A BJP leader said in anger: "What is there to react? He has resigned after letting us down."
A BJP leader in Tamil Nadu said: "It is difficult to imagine the charges being made against Shanmugnathanji. A swayamsevak who was a confirmed bachelor, he had devoted his entire life to the RSS and the BJP. He never had any political ambitions and preferred to be in the background."
When Shanmuganathan was appointed governor of Meghalaya in 2015, many BJP leaders in Delhi were surprised. Then a low-profile parliamentary party office assistant secretary, "Shanmuganathan himself was surprised when he got the news of his appointment as governor", said a BJP leader.
But soon the leaders found out that he was an RSS pracharak and a contemporary of Narendra Modi, another former pracharak. Shanmuganathan used to share what was then an official residence of a high-profile BJP leader, sources said.
BJP leaders said the Prime Minister's Office was extremely upset over the charges against Shanmuganathan and he was asked to step down.

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