Father of the week

The Paternal Politician

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Narayan Dutt Tiwari, known for his amiable disposition, has often been the butt of unkind jokes. One of the most derisive was a slogan used by his political rivals in the mid-70s: “Main Narayan Dutt Tiwari hoon, na nar hoon na naari hoon, main Indira ka pujari hoon, main Sanjay ki savaari hoon.” (I am Narayan Dutt Tiwari, nor man nor woman, a devotee of Indira, and Sanjay’s vehicle.)

A subservient, dynasty-obsessed Congress neta, Tiwari was never unnerved by ridicule. He went on to become Chief Minister four times—three times in Uttar Pradesh and once in Uttarakhand—plus Union minister with various portfolios, and is credited with spearheading a massive industrialisation drive in UP in the 70s and 80s. He has often said he holds no grudge against those who malign him. He was dispirited only when he faced allegations of fathering a child out of wedlock.

The 89-year-old politician, who had to step down as Governor of Andhra Pradesh in 2009 following an expose of his alleged sexual escapades, this week ended a six-year legal battle by admitting that the man who had taken him to court, Rohit Shekhar, is indeed his biological son.

“I want you to give respect to my mother… All I want is honesty from you,” Shekhar told Tiwari in a televised press conference, and the senior leader promptly agreed. In March last year, Tiwari had denied having any kind of relations with Shekhar’s mother and had described the paternity suit as a “political conspiracy” by his opponents.

But a ‘reformed’ Tiwari told reporters this week: “I accept Rohit as my son. It was already proved two years ago when my DNA matched his. Whatever it has been, I want to put the matter at rest and publicly accept him as my biological son.” The day before, Tiwari had invited Shekhar to a guest house in Delhi and told him he was tired of fighting the case.

Shekhar had taken Tiwari to court in 2008 claiming that he was born of an affair between his mother, Ujjwala Sharma, and Tiwari in the 1970s, while Tiwari was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. As part of the trial, the Delhi High Court made the leader undergo a DNA paternity test. Tiwari tried to avoid this, even moving the Supreme Court so that he did not have to provide blood samples. But despite requests from Tiwari’s lawyers that the results be kept secret, the tests established he was Shekhar’s biological father.

“I am happy that ND Tiwari has finally accepted the fact that I am his son,” Shekhar said at the press conference. “We would have anyway won the case on 21 April,” the date of the final hearing.

However, this ‘confession’, say legal experts, does not necessarily mean Rohit has a claim over Tiwari’s ancestral property estimated to be worth several hundred crores of rupees.