Monday, 30th October 2017

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Age trolls hound Rahul’s nurse

Why are they making me younger? asks nurse

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 12.06.19, 5:44 AM
  • Updated 12.06.19, 5:44 AM
  • 2 mins read
Rahul Gandhi meets former nurse Rajamma Vavathil in Wayanad on Sunday (PTI)

Rajamma Vavathil had got a hug from Rahul Gandhi when he met her on Sunday. Now social media trolls are not letting the septuagenarian go.

They claim the retired nurse from Wayanad is much younger, the insinuation being she couldn’t have been among medical staff who had first handled a newborn Rahul. “I am 72. I don’t understand what these people gain from making me younger by 10 years,” Rajamma told The Telegraph on Tuesday, upset by such false claims.

Rahul had met Rajamma at the government guesthouse in Kalpetta, the district headquarters of Wayanad, on the final day of his three-day thanksgiving tour to his new constituency in Kerala, fulfilling a long-held wish of the nurse who now leads a retired life.

The trolls got going the same day. “Rajamma is 62. So when he was born, the nurse was 13 years old. Yaha bhi ***** scam,” someone by the name Muralikrishna tweeted without any proof to substantiate his claim. Till 4.30pm on Tuesday, the tweet had been retweeted 6,616 times and received 12,000 likes. Variants of the allegation have been circulating on Facebook too.

Another person by the name Raymond Luxury Yacht widened his attack to target not only Rajamma but the Congress chief too. “Rajamma looks just as old as @RahuldGandhi, and was present at his birth? Perhaps born in the next bed in Government General Hospital? To what lengths will this fellow go, lying, putting foot in mouth..just for some brownie points.”

Although the tweet tagged @RahuldGandhi, there was little doubt about the target.

For Rajamma, the controversy has been completely unexpected. “What do these people gain by torturing a retired person like me who doesn’t need even a pin from anyone. I have always seen all the babies born in my presence as my own children. Likewise, I see Rahul Gandhi as my own son,” she said.

“Anyone is free to check my documents that carry my date of birth,” she added, showing a set of documents to prove that she was indeed 72.

Her driving licence clearly mentions her date of birth as June 01, 1947, or just over 72.

A certificate issued by the Holy Family Hospital, Patna, on October 26, 1968, says Rajamma M. Kesavan — Kesavan being her maiden name — has completed a three-year diploma course in nursing.

Another certificate, issued by the Holy Family Hospital School of Nursing in Delhi on November 29, 1970, says she has completed a six-month diploma in midwifery. It was during this period that she came to be part of the team that attended Sonia Gandhi’s first delivery.

Rahul was born on June 19, 1970.

Rajamma had later joined the army nursing service in 1971 after marriage. Her husband, Rajappan Vavathil, was in the forces.

Two other certificates issued by the Punjab Nurses Registration Council confirmed her qualification.

“Those days, the Punjab Nurses Registration Council was the body that governed Delhi, which did not have one. I don’t know if Delhi has a separate council now,” she said.

Rajamma, who lives with her husband in Kalloor near Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad, wondered why anyone would target her.

“I am a mother and a woman who has nothing to do with the politics of any party, including the Congress,” she said. “I wanted to meet Rahul Gandhi since he was in my own district. Did I go running to Delhi to meet him just because I was among those who held him even before his own mother did?”

Rajamma’s son, Ajesh Rajan, appeared bemused by all the negative attention his mother has been getting. “For all those who are questioning mummy’s age, even I am 44 years old,” he told this newspaper.

His children Gokul, 15, and Gouri, 10, were with Rajamma and Rajappan when they met Rahul.

Local Congress worker P.C. Assainar, who has known Rajamma for decades, said: “Anyone here would know how old she is. I have personally seen her documents.”

Assainer would know. He is Rajamma’s next-door neighbour.