May 31: When N.D. Tiwari and the man who has moved a paternity suit against him came face to face in Dehra Dun on May 29, the veteran Congress leader betrayed no signs of bitterness, people present at the meeting said.
The 87-year-old asked Rohit Shekhar, 32, who claims to be Tiwari’s biological son, how his education was progressing and tried to gift him a rare Jawaharlal Nehru photograph.
He asked Rohit’s mother Ujjwala, with whom he has admitted having had an affair decades ago, for tapes of her renditions of certain ragas, the eyewitnesses said.
Tiwari, a former Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand chief minister and former Andhra Pradesh governor, was meeting Rohit and Ujjwala in rather unusual circumstances after almost seven years.
The occasion was the collection of Tiwari’s blood sample — a process he had been stalling for a while — under the Supreme Court’s directive so that a DNA test can be done to settle the paternity suit. The court had asked Rohit and Ujjwala to be present as witnesses so that there were no complaints later on.
The meeting took place at Dehra Dun’s Forest Research Institute guesthouse, which now functions as Tiwari’s official accommodation as a former chief minister, in the presence of Dehra Dun’s district judge and chief medical superintendent, and the Delhi High Court registrar.
Eyewitnesses who didn’t wish to be named said Tiwari was chatty at the meeting. Rohit appeared a little taken aback when Tiwari asked him about his education and responded meekly that he had obtained a law degree and was practising as a lawyer.
Later, when Tiwari, who was admitted to hospital today, saw him looking at a Nehru photograph on the wall, he summoned his security guard and told him to bring the picture down and hand it over as a gift to Rohit. A stunned Rohit declined Tiwari’s generosity.
Tiwari’s meeting with Ujjwala was expected to be a tense one because he had described her as an “unchaste woman” in legal documents. However, he casually asked her for tapes of her rendition of the Pooriya, Vrindavani Sarang, Sur Malhar and other ragas, surprising the eyewitnesses.
The paternity suit is likely to be settled next month. Under the Supreme Court’s orders, the Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics is to carry out DNA tests on blood samples taken from Tiwari, Rohit and Ujjwala. It is to hand in a report to Delhi High Court, which will pass the verdict.
Legal experts are expecting a “landmark” verdict in terms of a child’s rights.
Rohit has told an interviewer he filed the lawsuit after being humiliated and denied recognition as Tiwari’s son.
“In his room at the chief minister’s residence, he was very affectionate but in front of others, I didn’t exist (for Tiwari),” Rohit said in the interview.
“Once I was waiting outside his room after meeting him. Seeing me emerge from the chief minister’s room, the MLAs who were already there asked me who I was. I muttered that I had come for research work from Delhi. When Tiwari came out, he did not acknowledge me at all. Not that my mother hadn’t warned me about him, but only I knew how badly it hurt.”
This allegedly happened in 2005. Rohit recalled another purported incident that year when Tiwari, then Uttarakhand chief minister, had turned 80 and thousands had assembled outside his bungalow to celebrate.
“I was there too. He took the maala (garland) I had brought for him and affectionately gave me a bouquet. I assumed he would start acknowledging me publicly from then on,” Rohit said.
“I had gone there with a cake. But some people came up and told me to leave as it would not be good for Mr Tiwari if I stayed. Luckily, we have photographs of that day.”
Next day, when Rohit was reportedly let in, he confronted Tiwari.
“This is no longer going to stay within the confines of this room. You hug me in private but publicly I have to answer questions about who I am. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it’s not going to be very pleasant,” he purportedly said.
“He (Tiwari) said nothing but his face went red. That was probably the last time I met him.”