Free Press Journal

Centre must be stricter in screening candidates

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Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan’s resignation days after nearly 100 members of his staff alleged in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he had “compromised the dignity” of the Governor’s House and turned it into a “young ladies club” is a blow to the institution of Governor. It reminds one of the ignominious exit of veteran Congressmen N. D. Tiwari who had been exposed for sexual promiscuity and had to quit in virtual disgrace. In Shanmuganathan’s case, the Raj Bhawan staff said in the letter that the Governor’s activities had caused “severe humiliation, mental stress and torture” to employees, shunting out other employees and bringing in “only the young girls”. The letter alleged that “two public relations officers, a cook and a nurse… all of whom are women” had been appointed on “night duty” at the Raj Bhawan. Apart from this, another signature campaign gained momentum. This one was by eminent citizens of the state. Over 400 signatures were taken on this letter, which was addressed to the President and the Prime Minister. Apart from the removal of Shanmuganathan, they also wanted a thorough probe into the allegations of the Raj Bhawan staff.

Apparently, the prompt action by the Central government was triggered by the fact that elections in five states are round the corner and the Modi government did not want to give an opportunity to the Opposition to exploit the issue  particularly as Shanmuganathan was once associated with the RSS. The disenchantment with the Governor was so deep that shielding him could have complicated matters. It was therefore decided to instruct him to put in his papers forthwith. Shanmuganathan’s behaviour underlines the need for the Centre to be more thorough in its screening of candidates for gubernatorial and other sensitive positions. Only last September, the then Arunachal Governor, Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, had to be sacked by the President after he refused to quit following strictures passed by the  Supreme Court against him over dismissal of the Congress government in the state. Rajkhowa, a 1968 batch IAS officer, had retired as chief secretary of Assam before being appointed as governor.