Like most astrologers who like to flaunt their clientele, Nathulal Vyas too has quite a few photos and newspaper clippings to showcase in his cramped “office room”, including those of former President Pratibha Patil and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
However, even Vyas, 85, would not have expected the furore that followed the visit on Sunday of HRD Minister Smriti Irani to his house in Karoi, a small town 27 km from Bhilwara.
“Last year when she visited me and asked about her political prospects, I had told her that whether she wins or loses, she will go on to become a minister. She had almost expressed disbelief then and said that if she did become one, she would come back to me. And she kept her promise,” Vyas told The Indian Express.
The Minister, her husband Zubin Irani and two family friends had visited Vyas on Sunday afternoon for a four-hour session. According to Vyas, Irani stayed in a resort on Abu Road and came to his house after offering prayers at the Nathdwara temple.
Asked about the controversy the visit has since generated, Vyas said, “Everyone wants to know what the future holds for them. What is wrong with it? She had only personal questions to ask, about her family’s health, etc.”
Reacting to reports, Irani said that the media should not “breach decorum” and that the visit to the astrologer’s house concerned her “private life”.
“I have a right over my private life. As a minister, whatever is my action and programmes, you have every right to ask me questions. What I do in my personal life, which religion I believe in, who I worship, who I meet, where I go is not the responsibility of the media,” she said.
Vyas said that he is simply happy that Irani “kept her promise of coming back to visit after she became a minister” — unlike Patil and Raje, he added.
Pulling out a newspaper clipping from April 2009, Vyas claimed Raje had come to ask about her son Dushyant Singh’s chances in the parliamentary poll that was around the corner. He added that he had reassured her that he would win and he did — but, he said, Raje never got back.
Pointing to a photo of his meeting with Patil, Vyas claimed she had visited him during her tenure as the Rajasthan Governor. He added that he had told her that she would be president and on another occasion, that her son would win a “difficult election”. Both happened, Vyas said, but Patil didn’t return.
Vyas also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brother Somabhai had visited him earlier this year to ask about his brother’s prospects. “I knew Modi would get there too,” he said.
This was Irani’s third visit, said Vyas before adding, “This time, when I told her she will reach the top constitutional post, she smiled and said ‘I am happy I got this far and do not have any further ambitions’.”
Vyas, however, refused to elaborate further on the meeting, particularly with reports questioning the propriety of the visit triggering an angry reaction from Irani, who has been in the news for her ministry’s decision to replace German with Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalayas. (With inputs from ENS New Delhi)