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Had govt reacted sooner, he could have stayed on as RBI Governor: Father on Raghuram Rajan’s exit

BJP’s Subramanian Swamy had levelled allegations against Rajan including of sending confidential and sensitive financial information around the world and asked the PM Modi to sack him immediately.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
June 29, 2016 5:47:47 am
rbi governor, raghuram rajan, rbi governor resigns, rbi raghuram rajan, subramanian swamy, swamy rajan, rajan swamy, india news Raghuram Rajan has said he will not seek a second term as RBI Governor. (Express Photo: Aman Deshmukh)

THE father of Raghuram Rajan and retired senior bureaucrat R Govindarajan has said that Rajan may have stayed on as RBI Governor if the government had reacted promptly when the attacks on him started.

Speaking to The Indian Express at their home in Adyar, Chennai, Govindarajan and his wife Mythili expressed pain at the attacks on him. “I feel if the government had responded promptly when the attacks started, possibly he wouldn’t have come to this decision,” Govindarajan, who retired as a senior Intelligence officer, said.

In an interview with Times Now on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had broken his silence on the attacks on Rajan that began almost two months ago, saying “such things are inappropriate”. He also said, “Raghuram Rajan’s patriotism is no less than ours… Those who speak such language are doing great injustice to him.”

Mythili, 76, said Rajan “may be angry at me for these comments”, but the personal attacks hurt. “As a father, I need not speak for him,” Govindarajan, who is in his 80s, said. “The entire world is watching this, the way he was subjected to a series of attacks and controversy.”

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“Let anyone question his policies, or style of functioning. But isn’t it unfair attacking someone personally, questioning his patriotism?” said Mythili, adding Rajan was born in India and came to India hoping to do better things.

The patriotism charge particularly hurt given her husband’s long service in government, said Mythili, as Govindarajan tried to stop her. “Life hasn’t been easy for us. My husband was the kind of man who lived for his job, who considered his wife, children all secondary. It was left to me to manage the children.”

Through the tough times, she recalled, “Raghu was fearless”. “During the Sikh riots, my husband was posted in England. I had to be with him, leaving Raghu and his younger brother alone at our Delhi home. As we heard the news of Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the attacks on Sikhs, I asked my younger sister to come and stay with them in Delhi. On her way, the train was attacked as there was a Sikh youth on it. It was Raghu who went and brought her home. After she reached home, Raghu left again, for IIT, where he and his friends had been busy hiding as many Sikh youths from attacks as they could, as the IIT hostel was the safest place.”

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Rajan never told her these things himself, Mythili said. “I heard the stories from his siblings and others… Raghu was the general secretary of the students’ union in IIT, he might have felt it was his duty.”

It was because of “this nature” of Rajan that Mythili ensured he went to IIT and not St Stephens, where he wanted to study Economics, Govindarajan smiled.

The young Rajan, an avid reader, wrote poems and was often surrounded by girls in school, Mythili chuckled. “Had I allowed him to study Economics in St Stephens, he would have entered politics like leaders we see in JNU these days. That was the age.”

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Govindarajan’s own career with the government ended on a sour note, and he is believed to have been denied a promotion as R&AW chief because of a run-in with then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi over Bofors. But he refuses to talk about it now. “All that is gone,” he said. “He wouldn’t let me talk about it either,” Mythili said.

“Govindarajan had to sit at home for almost four months after serving the country for more than two decades. Finally, after facing several ordeals and insults, he was appointed as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee before his retirement,” said a retired officer who worked with him.

Mythili’s only regret is that Rajan doesn’t have enough time for them, “coming home hardly four or five times since he became the RBI Governor”. “Even if he finds time to visit, he can’t stay with us. He has to stay in a hotel where his security and all the formalities can be taken care of. During my husband’s birthday last year, he decided to take him to Kodaikanal. On the way, I requested him to take me to Madurai Meenakshi temple too, which he luckily could manage time for.”

Rajan is a rare visitor to temples, she added. “A man with so much goodness need not visit temples. The god is within, I know,” Mythili said.

But have the circumstances in which he will be leaving as RBI Governor hurt him? Mythili said Rajan wouldn’t show it. “He would just stop talking to that person.”

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Ultimately, the controversy wouldn’t bog Rajan down, she believes. “It doesn’t matter even if he didn’t get timely support from the government. He may be hurt but it won’t affect him in anyway.”

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First published on: 29-06-2016 at 05:47:47 am
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