Exiting Haldwani railway station and entering the main city area, one cannot miss Sushila Tiwari Government Medical College and Hospital. For some of those voting in Uttarakhand today (February 14), the medical college is considered as ‘poor man’s AIIMS’. One of the biggest hospitals in Kumaon region with satisfactory facilities, the medical college is often in news for the wrong reasons.
In 2018, four newborns died at the hospital within 24 hours, prompting district authorities to take action. The following year a professor was accused of sexually harassing six students. Then, an RTI in 2019 revealed that as many as 13,187 people died at the medical centre in the last nine years.
Medical facilities do become a major factor in swaying the votes, especially in times of coronavirus. But this story is not about the health issues in the polling state. William Shakespeare once asked ‘what’s in a name?’ He, however, can’t be right always.
Long before recently released ‘Gehraiyaan’ made noise for matured handling of complex relationships and dark realities of life, newspapers splashed front page stories on Sushila Tiwari’s husband.
Who is Sushila Tiwari’s Husband?
Narayan Dutt Tiwari, husband of Sushila Tiwari and Uttarakhand’s first elected chief minister, has the distinction of being the first person to be CM of two states – Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Since Uttarakhand was carved out of UP in November, 2000, only one chief minister, Congress’s ND Tiwari, has been able to complete his full term of five years. But the thing he’s probably most famous for is his personal life.
Not-so-syrupy Saga of ND Tiwari
Nearly 16 years ago when ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’ hit the theatres, many slammed Karan Johar for allegedly endorsing infidelity, a charge which was vehemently denied by the director.
Johar had once shared that he got the idea behind the film when he saw a real couple in London break up on amicable terms. The break-up made him want to explore deeper dynamics of marriage and relationships, which is where he came up with the plot of the movie.
A fact hard to accept, clandestine romance does exist and it comes with its own complexities.
ND Tiwari too, perhaps, may not have given a thought before venturing into the ‘uncomfortable premise’ until 2008 when one Rohit Shekhar filed a paternity suit, claiming that Tiwari was his biological father. His claim was confirmed through a DNA test in 2012. Thus, forcing Tiwari to accept the fact in 2014.
That was the year when Tiwari, at the age of 88, married Rohit’s mother Ujjwala Sharma. His first wife, Sushila Sanwal Tiwari, had passed away in 1991. He was married to Sushila since 1954 but did not have any children.
“My first wife (Sushila Sanwal Tiwari) died of pancreatic cancer 21 years ago. I needed a companion now,” Tiwari said after his marriage. He passed away in 2018 at the age of 93, after a prolonged illness and multiple organ failure.
While Rohit Shekar was trying to prove his relationship with Tiwari, the former chief minister was serving as the governor of Andhra Pradesh. But in 2009, he was forced to quit after being embroiled in an alleged sex tape controversy.
A local television channel had aired a video of the then 86-year-old Congress leader allegedly in bed with three young women. Tiwari said the footage was doctored.
“The pictures were morphed. My photographs were taken and merged. Anything is possible in this age of technology. These days it is even difficult to watch television with your mother or daughter. Advertisements made for America are now being shown in India,” a national daily had quoted him as saying in 2010.
Popular Garhwali singer and poet Narendra Singh Negi had composed a musical satire on ND Tiwari. The title, Nauchami Narayan, meaning ‘naughty Narayan’ in Garhwali, showed Tiwari’s lookalike dressed as Lord Krishna, with a crown, a flute and surrounded by gopis.
The Overnight ‘Son-rise’
Once hesitant to accept Rohit Shekhar as his son, ND Tiwari by 2016 was seen trying to establish Shekhar into mainstream politics of the hill state. While the family stayed in Lucknow, the father-son duo often made trips to Uttarakhand. They demanded to convert Dr Sushila Tiwari Government Medical College and Hospital into an AIIMS. They were spotted meeting workers of Hindustan Machine Tools factory when it was being shut down, and also paid a visit to the family of Haldwani soldier who was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra.
In 2015, the duo along with Shekhar’s mother Ujjwala gagged themselves and sat on a dharna outside Sushila Tiwari government hospital, built during the leader’s tenure and named after his first wife. The decision to sit on a protest came after Tiwari visited the hospital along with his family and was shocked to find the hospital terribly understaffed with lack of medical equipment among other follies.
Rohit Shekhar’s ‘Pati, Patni aur Woh’
Tiwari’s dream to launch his son, unfortunately, could not last long. A few years after his death, Rohit Shekhar’s story came to a tragic end. A real-life remake of hit Bollywood movie ‘Pati, Patni aur Woh’ formed the climax of his life in 2019.
Shekhar’s lawyer wife, Apoorva Shukla, confessed to have smothered him with pillow. This story began in 2017 when the two met through a matrimonial website and eventually got married the following year. Problems began a few months later when the couple moved to Shekhar’s posh home in New Delhi’s Defence Colony.
Apoorva apparently found out about Shekhar’s proximity to a woman, who was his distant relative. As the closeness between Tiwari’s son and the friend-relative grew, it led to arguments between the husband and wife and it aggravated to a level that there were talks of divorce too.
The situation worsened when Lok Sabha elections were scheduled to be held in 2019. Reportedly, the friend-relative accompanied Ujjwala and Shekhar to Uttarakhand when they were travelling to cast their vote.
When Apoorva video-called her husband, she saw Shekhar drinking with the friend-relative. On his return to Delhi, the husband and wife indulged in a scuffle over the woman.
In the heat of the moment, Apoorva allegedly smothered Shekhar with a pillow, who was in an inebriated condition. According to reports, Tiwari’s son slowly gave up, and an exhausted Apoorva sat on the same bed only to realise that Rohit had passed away.
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