I recall my rare interactions with the outgoing Meghalaya Governor whose exact name Shanmuganathan I discovered only after the Indian Express exposed the sex scandal involving him. Soon after the BJP went out of power in 2004, this gentleman was planted in the BJP parliamentary party office and his job was merely to order tea and biscuits around and do other sundry biddings of the BJP spokesmen when they briefed the media in Room number 6 of Parliament House, e BJP Parliamentary party office.
Soon as there was a change of regime in 2014 and the saffron brigade led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the citadel of Indian democracy I virtually retired from active journalism and therefore the fact that this complete non entity had been sent off to govern the sensitive north eastern states of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh came as bigger surprise to me than his reported frolickings with young and pretty girls.
Shanmuganathan as reported in the media is a Pracharak from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) based in Chennai and used to manage senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu’s vast business empire extending from Chennai to the entire length and breadth of Tamil Nadu. Venkaiah has let out his mansion in Chennai to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shanmuganathan was an odd jobs man of Venkaiah. It is Venkaiah who brought him to Delhi and secured for him a position in the BJP parliamentary party office.
Grapevine has it that Prime Minister Narendra Modi elevated Shanuganathan to the post of Governor in North east also at Venkaiah’s instance. People of north eastern hilly states look down with suspicion and justifiably so, at those from the plains of India, presuming them to be part of the network trafficking in young women, largely for prostitution purposes and sometimes for domestic help also, often packing them off to Gulf for the same purpose. One wonders therefore what was transpiring in Modi’s mind when he decided to send a Mr. Nobody to the dignified post of a Governor, where you are addressed as Your Excellency?
My friend Sabah Naqvi apparently mocked the Sangh on twitter at the doings of His Excellency. The Sanghi brigade protested loudly. Maybe they have a point that not every Sanghi can be painted with the same brush.
I had a very dear and revered colleague in Bombay Indian Express reporters’ section Neelkanth Deshmukh. He was truly a gentleman to the core and most modest, most unassuming. But he probably was the exception that disproves the rule.
To be fair to Shanmuganathan he is not the first supposed celibate Pracharak from the Sangh whose weakness for the soft flesh has hit the headlines. A head count of the BJP national executive has revealed a 10 per cent occurrence of the members who earned a general reputation for extra marital sexual dalliance, starting from the number one on the list, our married, yet unmarried Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Remember the Mansi tapes?
Then on number two on the list is former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who confessed years ago in an interview to the Celebrity magazine that though he is a bachelor he is not a celibate.
Then we have another holier than thou Murli Mnohar Joshi, against whom one time media celebrity Neelam Mahajan Singh lodged a complaint of rape.
The man on number ten, now an important cabinet minister is also widely known for his weakness for the soft flesh and most important introducing the infamous Niira Radia to Delhi’s charmed circles and then promoting her business interests.
I need not mention every name in the list and it is evident that I have neither concocted these names nor fabricated anything against these and other worthies not mentioned here as also those outside the national executive. All this is in public domain. Nor am I mentioning the names of the dead Sangh pracharaks whose sexual dalliance came to light on their death bed. Eyebrows were raised on at least two of them, when their nocturnal activities came to light on their pyre.
The Sanghis will immediately turn around and say so what, this is more prevalent in the Congress party and in every other party. Granted. No question of disputing this. But the point is, they don’t claim to be custodians of our Hindu morality. They don’t run armies of vigilantes. They don’t put restrictions of celibacy on their party leaders or members and force them to put on a pretense of celibacy even while their romantic escapades are freely discussed in Sanghi circles.
So the moral of the story is…One, stop preaching. Two, respect the high office of Governor and send at least some one with some amount of established integrity.