Signature campaign launched to demand Meghalaya Governor’s recall

Shillong, Jan 26 (IANS) Civil society groups in Meghalaya on Thursday launched a signature campaign to demand the immediate recall of Governor V. Shanmuganathan, who is accused of inappropriate behaviour and hurting the decorum and prestige of the Raj Bhavan.

Reached for his comment, the Governor, currently in Itanagar because he also holds the additional charge of Arunachal Pradesh, said: “I will come to Shillong soon and talk to you.”

The powerful women’s group — Civil Society Women’s Organisation — and Thma U Rangli (TUR), a progressive political outfit of Meghalaya, also staged a protest in front of the Raj Bhavan gate on the issue.

“It is unfortunate that on the Republic Day, we have to stand outside the Raj Bhavan to demand the Governor’s removal for sexual harassment,” TUR leader and rights activist Angela Rangad said.

Rangad said signatures obtained on the issue will be forwarded to President Pranab Mukherjee to urge for his intervention and sacking of Shanmuganathan to facilitate an independent inquiry and subsequent prosecution.

Asked about the controversy, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told journalists: “We will inform the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister. We will await the central government’s take on the issue.”

On Wednesday, employees of the Raj Bhavan in Shillong sent a five-page letter signed by 100 staffers to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Rashtrapati Bhavan to demand recall of the Governor for what they alleged was “turning the Raj Bhavan into a Young Ladies Club”.

“We feel he is demeaning the position of the Head of the State. He is rude, arrogant, temperamental and untruthful. Above all, he has seriously compromised the dignity of the Raj Bhavan and unfortunately made it into a Young Ladies Club,” the letter said.

“… we are not interested in his personal life. But when his activities hurt the decorum and prestige of the Raj Bhavan as well as the sentiments of the Raj Bhavan employees, who are very much attached to the Raj Bhavan, it becomes our concern,” the letter added.

From the time Shanmuganathan took over, the employees alleged, they were going through “severe humiliation, mental stress and torture”.

The letter came after an English daily news report quoted a woman who accused the Governor of making advances by “hugging and kissing her”.

The woman was one of the seven candidates selected for an interview for the post of a Public Relation Officer at the Raj Bhavan.

“She was personally called by the Governor on December 8, who asked her to come and meet him at 7 p.m., for which she came in good faith, only to be molested by him,” the report said.

Shanmuganathan, 68, a veteran Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist from Tamil Nadu, was sworn in as Meghalaya Governor on May 20, 2015.

The President have him additional charge of Arunachal Pradesh from September 16, 2016, after J.P. Rajkhowa was removed.

He was also Governor in charge of Manipur from September 2015 to August 2016.