Free willy


For someone who served as chief minister of two states, as Union minister and was even mentioned as prime ministerial contender in the 90s, Narayan Dutt Tiwari is exiting public life under a dark cloud. The former socialist-turned-Congressman was finally felled by charges of moral turpitude that have dogged him all through his political career, be it concerning his relationship with his Cabinet colleague Indira Hridayesh or with Ujwala Sharma whose son last year claimed he was Tiwari’s illegitimate son. His inexplicable vanishing act for a couple of days in 1995 in Gajraula in Uttar Pradesh or his public humiliation in a Haldwani guest house in the mid-80s, when he was caught in the act with a woman friend, were indicative of a personal flaw that the Congress leadership, for whatever reason, tried to gloss over. But by his ménage quatre in the imposing gubernatorial mansion in Hyderabad, Tiwari has finally lived down the famous line about him: “Na nar na naari, Narayan Dutt Tiwari”.
Tiwari’s tumble into the purgatory of infamy has evoked much moral indignation in a society whose attitude to sex sometimes borders on hypocrisy. True, Tiwari besmirched the dignity of a Raj Bhavan by his romp with women young enough to be his grand daughters. But Indian politics and sex have had a long relationship. Also, while damning Tiwari, the babel of condemnatory chorus seems to have ignored the dangerous implications of the woman behind the exposure brazenly claiming that she sent the three women to Tiwari, for she was seeking a mining licence. It is such trading of public resources by powerful figures for favours, monetary or sexual, that should concern all.

But corruption, financial or moral is a global phenomenon, as Indira Gandhi would have reminded us. Power is the most potent aphrodisiac, Henry Kissinger noted. Men in power are drawn to dangerous liaisons with women, as also the other way round. Such is the obsession that they tend to take unacceptable risks, leading to inevitable disaster. This year alone, libido caused the end of many distinguished careers all over the world, notably the United States, where South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Nevada Senator John Ensign and golf legend Tiger Woods suffered ignominy. The year 2009 is thus truly annus horibilis.

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