Before the cameras came on and the questions began, Rohit Shekhar spent a few moments alone with his father. “I want you to give respect to my mother… All I want is honesty from you,” he said. N D Tiwari nodded.
Shekhar’s mother Ujjwala Sharma sat in another room, watching TV recaps of the case that saw Shekhar filing a paternity suit against the 89-year-old senior Congress leader and former Andhra Pradesh governor.
“People from his (Tiwari’s) side had been sending us feelers… But what is the scope for mediation in a case like this? You can’t say he’s 50 per cent my son,” Sharma said.
She said she had heard Tiwari was unwell and decided to call on him on Sunday. “When I met him, he asked to meet Rohit. He (Tiwari) hugged him and acknowledged him as his son.”
The meeting took place at Uttarakhand Sadan in Delhi. “I was seeing him after nine years and I was taken aback. Age has begun to tell on him,” Sharma said.
After years of denial, Tiwari at a press conference on Monday publicly accepted 35-year-old Shekhar as his son. Shekhar had filed a paternity suit against Tiwari in Delhi High Court in September 2007, the final hearing of which is on April 21. A DNA test ordered by the court has established Tiwari as Shekhar’s biological father.
“He hugged me when I met him, put his topi on my head, his shawl over my shoulder. I am positive about what has happened. I have always been positive. But the case will go on. He will have to give this in writing in court. And if he retracts, we will fight it out,” Shekhar said.
At the press conference, Tiwari patted Shekhar, and spoke about his long relationship with Ujjwala’s father and former defence minister Sher Singh. He was less forthcoming on questions about the past and the future.
He dodged answering why he had not acknowledged Shekhar as his son so far, and whether he would now declare Shekhar his heir as well. “I have no property,” Tiwari said with a straight face. But if Shekhar fought an election, he would support his son, Tiwari said.
“What is important is that the Rohit Shekhar vs N D Tiwari case has set a precedent. It has told the patriarchs that you can’t just get away with anything. All I want to do now is to put this behind me, wake up fresh in the morning, do my pranayam and practise my music,” Shekhar said.