The name Leela Samson is not known to many people, but she is one of the most influential person in the lutyens club.
Leela Samson is a professional Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer. She was appointed as the director of Kalakshetra by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in April 2005. She was subsequently also appointed as the chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi in August 2010 and as the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (an autonomous body that censors and certifies films in India, including Bollywood movies) in April 2011.
But most importantly, she was a very close aide of the Gandhi family. She is said to have taught Bharatanatyam for some years to Priyanka Gandhi. This was the prime reason why she is said to have held six key positions in the 10 years of Congress-led UPA regime. Many papers including the Indian Express alleged favoritism regarding her appointment as the chairperson of the censor board by UPA govt in 2011. Leela Samson’s appointment as chairperson of the Censor Board had raised the question as to whether the well-known Bharatanatyam dancer will have time to devote to her new assignment.
Due to her closeness with the Gandhi family, she very soon received the Padma Shri (1990), the Sanskriti, Nritya Choodamani, Kalaimamani (2005) given by Government of Tamil Nadu, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1999–2000) for contributions to Bharatanatyam.
But in the year 2012, she resigned from her position as director of Kalakshetra, she resigned from her position as chairperson of the censor board after the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal overturned her attempt to ban the movie MSG: The Messenger of God featuring Dera Sacha Sauda founder Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a lead role and gave it clearance.
Now this person may soon face a CBI enquiry over alleged financial irregularities during a makeover of Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai under her watch in 2009-10. The committee in the Cultural ministry found many irregularities in the use of funds. The Culture minister Mahesh Sharma confirmed that he is considering the recommendation for a CBI inquiry made by a committee of his ministry that found a prima facie case of financial irregularity in the renovation works conducted at the prestigious Bharatanatyam institute when Samson was its director.
The ministry of culture had asked for an inquiry to be conducted into the issue after audit findings pointed to “unfruitful expenditure” of more than Rs 6 crore on renovating the main auditorium during Samson’s tenure as director of Kalakshetra, an autonomous body under the ministry. The ministry of culture had asked for an inquiry to be conducted into the issue after audit findings pointed to “unfruitful expenditure” of more than Rs 6 crore on renovating the main auditorium during Samson’s tenure as director of Kalakshetra.
It is said that Leela Samson had misused her position and power to spend Rs 6 crore on unnecessary expenditure and kept the issue hidden for many years. The committee also said that undue favors were given to many people recommended by the Gandhi family without giving proper explanation.
Now, Leela Samson will have to face CBI enquiry for her alleged corruption charges. Under UPA government she is said to have enjoyed huge free doles and beneficiaries which were all cut after the Modi government took over.
According to reports, she is planning to put pressure on the culture ministry to stop CBI enquiry into the alleged corruption charges.