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Controversy over Kothandaraman appointment
Correspondent SHILLONG, JUN 23:
Published on 23 Jun. 2009 11:26 PM IST
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Controversy has mired over the appointment of “tainted” Lok Sabha official R Kothandaraman as Principal Secretary of Meghalaya Assembly. The rank and file of the Assembly had even raised their eyebrows over the appointment of Kothandaraman, who is accused of anti-government activities, as Principal Secretary to the Assembly. Kothandaraman is allegedly facing an inquiry for anti-government activities on a complaint filed by the governor of Nagaland where he was posted earlier. He was also charge sheeted for threatening the secretary general of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, P.D.T. Achary. “We are surprised over the appointment of Kothandaraman as the principal secretary of the Assembly when the government has advocated austerity measures,” a senior cabinet minister in the Meghalaya United Alliance ministry said. The senior minister, who wished not to be named, said that Kothandaraman’s appointment has violated all norms and rules of the Meghalaya Assembly. “The Speaker was wrong in declaring the Assembly as an autonomous body as it was declared as an Administrative Department in 1983,” he said. “We have strong objections to the appointment of a person whose character is not above doubt and the Speaker’s decision to appoint Kothandaraman as Principal Secretary does not have any justification,” Khasi Student’s Union leader Hamlet Dohling said. Former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro, who is AICC secretary in-charge North East is instrumental in the appointment of Kothandaraman as an officer in the Assembly secretariat. Infact, Kothandaraman has been sacked by former Goa Assembly Speaker Pratap Singh Rane after being exposed in an alleged extra-marital affair with a staff member. “Kothandaraman had even started to abuse his authority by harassing officers and staff of the Assembly in various ways,” Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People’s member Welbirth Rani said, while demanding the immediate removal of Kothandaraman as Principal Secretary of the Assembly. Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope has appointed Mr Kothandaraman on a two-year contract basis as Principal Secretary with a salary of Rs 75, 000 per month exclusive of other benefits like transportation, travelling allowance. Apart from enjoying a handsome salary, Kothandaraman is also enjoying accommodation as a “Chief Minister DD Lapang’s guest” at Pine Wood Hotel, one of the most expensive hotels in this city. “The speaker should justify as on what ground the appointment of principal secretary is required. If he cannot justify he should pay from his pocket all the expenses of his newly appointed Principal Secretary,” Synjuk Ki Seng Samla Shnong activist Wankitbor Nongbet said. The Assembly Speaker, however, defended Kothandaraman and said, “Unless a person is convicted, he cannot be termed as a criminal.” Pyngrope also defended the appointment of Kothandaraman, saying that it was for efficient administration of the Meghalaya Assembly Secretariat.

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