Narayan Dutt Tiwari (Pic courtesy: http://governor.ap.nic.in/)
When Narayan Dutt Tiwari was born in 1925 the discovery of deoxyribo-nucleic-acid (DNA) was still over a quarter century into the future. Eighty seven years later DNA is haunting him like nothing ever has in his more than five decades of one of India’s most influential political careers.
A paternity test has just confirmed that he fathered a son 32 years ago and never acknowledged him. The son, Rohit Shekhar, had been fighting for the past five years to compel Tiwari to accept his paternity.
I wrote this on May 29 this year when he was forced to give a DNA sample: "As politicians go Narayan Dutt Tiwari is as seasoned as you can get. He has been chief minister of India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh three times and once that of a new state carved out of it. In the immediate aftermath of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991, he was in the running as his Congress Party’s choice for prime minister. That did not happen.”
With his paternity confirmed there is nothing much Tiwari can do other than do his best to make amends. It is perhaps too late to forge a father-son bond with Shekhar but he can at least begin by apologizing to him. It is not as if Tiwari’s best years are ahead of him. The decent thing to do is to express genuine contrition and do what he can to make things right. Ironically, Shekhar is Tiwari’s first and only child.
So far it does not seem as if Tiwari wants to make things right because he has described the who affair as a “conspiracy”. He has been quoted as saying, “Due to my simplicity, at this point of my age, my trusted people hatched a conspiracy against me in a planned way. I have no remorse against them. My sympathy is with Rohit Shekhar.” Unless the DNA test was rigged, it is hard to see any conspiracy in this. As of now DNA is the most reliable tool to establish paternity. The Delhi High Court ordered that it be carried out and made public.
Tiwari’s lawyers had pleaded that the result of the test be kept private in order to “protect his reputation.” Their optimism about his reputation is touching. By itself having a child out of wedlock is not a particularly career-ending or even career-diminishing problem in India. It is perhaps the unseemly lengths to which Tiwari went to keep it hidden that has been more damaging.
As far as I can tell this is the first case of a prominent Indian politician being made to give a DNA a sample and shown to be the real parent. The legal precedent could make many others of his ilk quite nervous because it cannot be anybody case that Tiwari is the only politician in India who has had affairs.
There is something in the air of the world of political power that seems to spike the libido of those who inhabit it. It is particularly true of those men who have become long used to formal power the way Tiwari had. It is perhaps a combination of high adrenaline that seems to course through politicians and the easy availability of lascivious opportunities. I am not for a moment suggesting that a significant majority of male politicians mess around. However, I know for a fact that there is a fair number of them who would not mind yielding to temptations.
I would avoid going down the smutty path and speculating why it is that male Indian politicians are particularly fertile. Let me just say it may have something to do with the freedom of movement afforded by their fine cotton attire.