On Wednesday, veteran Congress leader N D Tiwari became a bridegroom. The 88-year-old leader, who was involved in a six-year-long legal battle with his biological son Rohit Shekhar, tied the knot with Ujjwala Sharma (69), Shekhar’s mother, in a low-key wedding ceremony, attended only by about a hundred people, which included close family members and staff.
“I needed someone to take care of me. It wasn’t sudden,” said the three-time Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister when this correspondent caught up with the newly married couple at his home in Lucknow’s Mall Avenue. “My first wife (Sushila Sanwal Tiwari) died of pancreatic cancer 21 years ago. I needed a companion now.”
Speaking of her “very courteous” husband, Ujjwala said the decision on marriage was taken only this Sunday.
“It was Mother’s Day and the staff celebrated it by cutting a cake. It was then that I reminded Tiwariji about Rohit’s frequent calls to me of late, asking that you give a proper place and honour to his mother. He (Tiwari) said that he wanted to formalise the relation based on Indian traditions and customs. Next day, he said that what better day than Buddha Purnima (which fell on Wednesday) to tie the knot,” she said.
“We then consulted the priest who suggested that we hold the ceremony in the evening. Tiwariji wanted to perform it early morning but finally agreed on evening.”
As the bride “didn’t want to tax Tiwari”, the ceremony was kept small, with only Ujjwala’s younger brother and his wife attending from her side. The couple will “hold a grand party when things have calmed down politically”.
A notable absence was that of the couple’s son, Rohit. “It all happened so quickly that he couldn’t make it. But he will come to the reception,” Ujjwala said.
The marriage follows some heavy drama that involved Ujjwala levelling allegations on Tiwari’s former officer on special duty (OSD), Bhawanidutt Bhatt, of not allowing her to meet Tiwari on April 29 at Coffee House, which, reportedly, led to an FIR being filed against Bhatt.
But things didn’t stop at that.
On May 2, when Bhatt again tried to stop her from meeting Tiwari at the latter’s residence, she barged into the house with a group of supporters, alleging that “Tiwari was being held captive in his own house”.
“I feel very secure and assured now because the type of people Tiwariji was surrounded with, there was a level of insecurity, though he himself behaved very approvingly. But, for some reason, I feel he was incapable of controlling the people around him. He is a very courteous person and looking at him, I would say that sometimes it is dangerous to be too good,” Ujjwala says of her husband.
As for the their immediate plans, she says that “more than anything else, Tiwariji is wedded to politics”. “When things calm down, we will hold a proper reception. Also, the politicians are busy right now, so many of them will be unable to attend if we organise anything now.”
Even as greetings flew in from far and away, among which included those from SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, CMs Akhilesh Yadav, Harish Rawat, Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalithaa, former CM Motilal Vora and BJP leader Amit Shah, the OSD was busy making preparations for Friday, which also mark’s the death anniversary of Tiwari’s first wife Sushila.