Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit courted controversy on Tuesday evening after he was accused of improper behaviour after patting a woman journalist on her cheek, apparently when posed with a series of tough questions about the sex-for-degrees case that has rocked the state.
Purohit, who was sworn in as the 25th Governor of Tamil Nadu, in October last year, became the first full-time governor of the southern state since 2016, ever since the retirement of K Rosaiah. For over a year after Rosaiah's retirement, Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao was holding additional charge of Tamil Nadu.
Purohit, 77, used to be Governor of Meghalaya before moving to Tamil Nadu. He was also a public personality inseparably involved in social, political, educational and industrial sectors, having spent over 40 years in active politics.
Hailing from Maharashtra's Vidarbha area, he's been involved in active politics since 1977, news agency PTI said, mentioning that he won an election to become a member of Maharashtra's Legislative Assembly in 1978 from Nagpur East constituency. Following this, he won two more elections on Congress' tickets, in 1984 and 1989. In 1982, he was given a ministerial berth in the Congress-led state government. In addition to this, he was also a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Defence Ministry.
However, as reported by The Indian Express, Purohit took part in a rally with the Karsevaks in Ayodhya in 1991, and had to pay a big price for this: Expulsion from the Congress. The following year, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and won Assembly elections for the saffron party in 1996.
In 1999, he tried to return to the Congress and contested a Lok Sabha election from Maharashtra's Ramtek seat, however lost to Subodh Mohite of the Shiv Sena.
He then formed his own party, the Vidarba Rajya Party, which contested Lok Sabha elections from Nagpur, before rejoining the BJP in 2009. He contested another Lok Sabha election from Nagpur for the saffron party in 2009, but lost to Congress' Vilas Muttemwar again.
He was also involved with the revival of The Hitavada, an English daily founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the mentor of Mahatma Gandhi. Under him, The Hitavada became a leading newspaper of Central India, and apart from its headquarters at Nagpur, the daily also launched editions from Jabalpur, Raipur, and Bhopal.
But despite repeated dalliances with rival political parties, Purohit maintained excellent relations with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, a report in The Times of India said. These three, all of whom hail from Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, had recommended his name to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the gubernatorial post, the article said.
Ironically, it was Gadkari who prevented Purohit from contesting Lok Sabha elections in 2014, by deciding to contest the elections himself.
Purohit has led a largely controversy-free career in politics, with the only time his name cropped up in an unsavoury allegation coming in 2007, when he claimed that he arranged an hour-long meeting between then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras in 1989.
As reported by Hindustan Times in 2007, Purohit claimed that at the meeting, Rajiv forged a secret pact with the RSS to permit shilanyas and the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya in exchange for RSS' support to the Congress in the 1989 elections. Purohit said Rajiv Gandhi even permitted the shilanyas ceremony to take place at Ayodhya, signalling the start of the construction of the Ram Temple.
However, a group of Muslim leaders then expressed their displeasure with the Congress and threatened of a backlash if this plan would continue. As a result of this, Rajiv Gandhi ordered a stay on the construction of the Ram Temple, and since he failed to keep his promise, the RSS refused to support the Congress party.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Apr 18, 2018 12:18:33 IST