|ND Tiwari marries Ujjwala Sharma in Lucknow on Wednesday. Picture by Naeem Ansari
New Delhi, May 15: Call it love in the time of political crisis. N.D. Tiwari, at 89 one of the Congress’s senior-most leaders, has sprung a surprise by tying the knot with old flame Ujjwala Sharma at a time his party is bracing for its worst electoral defeat.
Dozens of Tiwari’s associates, friends and relatives were invited to a “social do” at his home in Lucknow last evening. The guests saw Tiwari dressed up as a groom and Ujjwala, 66, as the bride.
Vedic hymns were chanted as the couple took the seven feras (perambulations), exchanged garlands and vowed to spend the rest of their lives together in love and harmony.
Kanyadaan — the ceremony of giving the bride away — was performed by Ujjwala’s brother Tarun and sister-in-law Rekha.
Ujjwala, a divorcee, is the mother of Tiwari’s biological son Rohit, who recently won a long-drawn paternity suit when a court declared him the veteran leader’s son. Tiwari had admitted during the 2008-14 court hearings that he had had an affair with Ujjwala in the 1970s.
Today, Rohit told The Telegraph: “My father is a real man. Having accepted me as his son, he has taken the further step of recognising my mother as his wife. I fought a bitter legal battle with him but today I can say with the courage of conviction that I am proud of my father.”
Sources, however, said that Tiwari had decided to marry Ujjwala to end family disputes.
Since he accepted Rohit, 35, as his son in March, some aides and relatives of the former Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand chief minister have allegedly been trying to create differences between him and Ujjwala.
Matters came to such a pass that one day, Ujjwala’s belongings were thrown out of the Tiwari residence, after which she sat on a dharna outside.
Rohit, torn between his love for his father and his mother, is said to have spent many sleepless nights before Tiwari took the initiative to bring Ujjwala back home.
Family sources said Tiwari had not been keeping well and alleged that his aides had had a “vested interest” in keeping Rohit and Ujjwala away from him.
Rohit agreed. “I don’t want to sound bitter but since March, we have faced many problems,” he said.
“I was dismayed that my father was not looked after properly by those who claimed to be loyal to him. My mother and I decided to fight from within. I’m grateful that the truth has prevailed.”
At the wedding, Ujjwala, a former Delhi University Sanskrit teacher, wore a bright sari and the pichauda (stole) gifted by Tiwari’s family. But unlike traditional brides, she could not sit still as she was the hostess too.
Ujjwala said Tiwari had proposed to her recently and then taken the matter up with his kul purohit (family priest), after which the veteran chose May 14, Buddha Poornima, to solemnise the union.
“I’m happy that social sanctity has been given to this relationship,” Ujjwala said. Tiwari now wants to register the marriage. His first wife passed away several years ago.
Ujjwala is an accomplished singer. Tiwari, himself an avid singer, is said to be extremely fond of her singing, particularly her rendition of Raag Durga.
Political rivals couldn’t resist a jibe. Senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted: “ND Tiwari in nuptial knot at the age of 88. Next is Digvijay Singh. Many more Congmen to follow.”
Congress leader Digvijaya, 67, had recently acknowledged his relationship with TV anchor Amrita Rai, 43.