Narayan Dutt Tiwari is one of the landmarks of my childhood, in the sense that hardly a day would pass without seeing his name or picture in the newspapers. He was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on and off, depending on how pleased the Congress high command in Delhi was with him. By the time I grew up and became a journalist, the BJP and the casteist parties of Mulayam Singh and Mayawati had already dislodged the Congress from power in the state and Tiwari, respected but irrelevant in Lucknow, had shifted base to Delhi.
In Delhi, Tiwari made news when he, along with Arjun Singh, broke away from Narasimha Rao's Congress in 1996 and formed Congress (T). During the general elections that year, the party fielded cricketer Manoj Prabhakar from South Delhi but he lost to BJP's Sushma Swaraj. After Rao's exit, Tiwari's party, like all splinter groups of the Congress, rejoined the parent party. Last heard of, he was the chief minister of Uttaranchal. And just when you began to wonder if he was still alive, just like you wonder about many Congress leaders who were already quite old when you were still a child, his name erupts in a sex scandal!
Since I do not watch TV, I missed out on the coverage. But I did get to see some of the scandalous stills on You Tube. The 86-year-old Tiwari is shown lying on bed, his hands resting on his chest. It could have been the image of his body lying in state -- so serene and still he looks. The only hint of life is the very faint smile on his lips. When surrounded by three naked women, even a dead man is likely to break into a smug smile. Fortunately, Tiwari had remembered to remove his trademark Gandhi cap before getting into the act.
The Tiwari scandal proves three things (they have been proven before, though):
1. Power is the ultimate elixir of life. A lesser mortal, at 86, would have been confined to bed, shrivelled and shrunk, waiting either for death or the attention of a family member. But when you are in power, there is no dearth of attention and death is always far away. Take the case of Narasimha Rao: he was so ill that he did not even stand for elections in 1991. But Rajiv Gandhi's assassination gave Rao a second lease of life. Look at Atal Behari Vajpayee: the moment he went out of power, the various ailments got the better of him.
2. The sexual desires of a man don't die with age. At 86, he may not be capable of providing pleasure (in any case, Indian men, no matter how old, usually have a poor track record in this department), but he is certainly capable of receiving pleasure. In other words, the senses are pretty much alive. So take heart, guys.
3. The rotten political system in our country. Licence for mining in return for sexual favours? Politicians have all the money in the world to buy sex, but still they like to use official power to get sex for free. How corrupt! And what is a 86-year-old man doing as a governor? Age irrelevant if you are the chief minister or prime minister, as long as you are popular with the people and go through the grind of election campaign. But why should Raj Bhavans serve as old-age homes? Tiwari, who already has one foot in the grave, went a step ahead and turned it into a brothel. What a shame.