Madurai official suspended after road repair order ahead of RSS chief Bhagwat’s TN visit
Chennai: After an internal circular from a Madurai civic official to his juniors asking them to fix roads ahead of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s visit began circulating on social media, he was shunted out from the post.
S Shanmugam, an assistant commissioner of the Madurai Corporation, had issued a circular on July 20 directing zonal officers to repair roads, fix streetlights and keep the routes, which Bhagwat was scheduled to take, clean. He also instructed them not to take up any repair works during the RSS Sarsanghchalak’s visit from July 22 to 27 in the district.
This quickly turned into a political controversy after S Venkatesan, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Lok Sabha MP from Madurai constituency, tweeted the circular and sought explanation from the district administration. “Under which government rules has this circular been issued?” Venkatesan tweeted. The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) allies such as the Left and the Congress sought action against the official for issuing the circular.
Shanmugam, who had been on deputation at the Madurai Corporation, has been sent back to his parent department in the district’s revenue office.
Following the controversy, Madurai Corporation commissioner KP Karthikeyan issued a press note, explaining that the circular was issued as part of routine arrangements made for any VVIP with Z-plus security cover as per protocol.
Bhagwat was provided with Z-plus security cover by the UPA government in 2012, and it was further extened to a countrywide Z-plus security cover of 60 commandos from the CISF in 2015.
A senior official in Madurai pointed out that though they were only following the protocol, the contents of the letter caused the problem. “If there is a pothole and his vehicle gets stuck, it is a breach of security protocol, so we were only following routine procedures that we are meant to follow for anyone with Z+ security,” the official said, not wishing to be named. “But the circular made it sound like some extraordinary work. Also, the circular was not sent to higher ups for approval, so we have demanded an explanation from the official,” the official added.
Civic chief Karthikeyan signed an order relieving Shanmugam from duty on July 21 evening and sought an explanation for why he issued this circular without the approval of senior officials.
Bhagwat is in Tamil Nadu as part of his annual tour. “He will review the organisational work done by Sangh during the last one year and is planning for expansion in the next three years,” said B Narasimhan, state secretary of the RSS. “He will also review Covid-19 relief activities carried out by Sangh volunteers teaming with other organisations during the second wave.”
As part of his visit, Bhagwat will spend three days in Vellore and visit Chennai on August 2. He is expected to interact with NGOs and social media influencers.
The RSS is the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is working towards gaining ground in Tamil Nadu where it doesn’t enjoy the popularity as in other parts of the country.