In the cacophony of noises created by the election in five states which is being termed as midterm test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the sordid tale of Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan has not met with condemnation that it deserved. The governor was forced to quit after about 98 members of his staff wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh alleging that the governor had turned the ‘Raj Bhawan’ into a ‘young ladies club’. The letter made 11 allegations against him. One is that he appointed three young women who were allowed free lodging in the Raj Bhawan.
The letter mentioned that one of the women was appointed as personal assistant to the governor, then elevated as the public relations officer and she accompanied V. Shanmuganathan whenever, he was on tour outside Meghalaya. The letter alleged that the governor had “compromised the dignity” of the Governor’s House, turned it into a club where “young ladies come and go at will” and had hired only women on his staff. The petition alleged that the Governor House had “become a place where young ladies used to come and go at will on direct orders of the Governor… Many of them had direct access to his bedroom.”
Trouble for the governor began when a woman job aspirant accused the Governor of making advances when she appeared for a ‘personal interview’ at the Raj Bhavan for the post of PRO on January 24. The woman alleged that the governor offered her a “part time or full time job”. She went on to allege that the governor hugged and kissed her describing it as a “dirty hug”. Women activists held protests in Shillong after the letter listing various acts lecherous acts and omissions by His Excellency reached PMO.
Sadly, such lecherous act is not confined to one party or office or constitutional authority. The high and mighty often feel a sense of entitlement, a licence to take advantage of their position and exploit vulnerability of women. Instances of voyeuristic indiscretion by men in high offices cut across party lines and people’s reactions vary from expressions of outrage to amusement while some show least concern dismissing these as a private matter.
The system has to ensure that criminal behaviour, should not be allowed go unpunished. We at Tehelka condemn such behaviour by anyone including those in power and at helm of affairs. The governor, who is a bachelor has denied the allegations and said that the candidates were like his daughters and grand-daughters, but the whole sordid episode needs thorough probe and strongest condemnation.