He was ‘weird’, but for pleasant surprise to many. V Shanmughanathan was a very accessible person, unlike other governors. He used to be very friendly with people, wherever he goes. A lot of people liked him due to his ‘simplicity’. Many of them even did not mind being asked by the governor to stand up during meetings and explain things. But, suddenly, the extrovert character of the former governor has become questionable, following the controversy over an alleged molestation of a job candidate and a letter sent to the Prime Minister with signatures of 98 employees of the Raj Bhavan.
At a programme of disabled persons, which also included a Padmashree awardee from the state, the governor had asked, ‘You have come to Raj Bhavan… Now tell me who want to have ‘samosa’ here, raise your hands.’ All had to raise their hands, to have the samosa. The Padmashree awardee, a visually disabled, was no exception. Sometimes he would not be satisfided with them raising hands and ask them to stand and explain. During a recent meeting in Manipur, Shanmughanathan asked intellectuals present there to write 100 words about the culture of Manipur! He would embarrass senior officials to explain irrelevant matters in public, much to the amusement of some in the audience. His apparent teaching attitude in every meeting was initially popular and appreciated. But the ‘care’ he showed proved hollow later. There has been no word of caution from Shanmughanathan, who belonged to the saffron camp, to the Congress-led state government in the past couple of years.
Be it the Centre’s prompt decision to remove him following the controversy or his own call, Shanmughanathan made the right move by resigning from the post. It is perhaps for the first time that a governor resigned on the Republic Day, that too on molestation charges. Even if all the allegations are incorrect, should have resigned in the wake of the serious allegations. And if there is any iota of truth, it was a serious breach of faith reposed on him by the Centre and given prestige attached to the office of the Raj Bhavan.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 28, 2017)