Amid an acrimonious political battle, there is a story of love in the time of elections. Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, 67, on Wednesday admitted to his relationship with journalist Amrita Rai after selfies of the duo in intimate poses went viral on the social media.
"I have no hesitation in accepting my relationship with Amrita Rai. She and her husband have already filed a mutual consent divorce case," Singh tweeted. In another tweet a minute later, he wrote: "Once that is decided we would formalise it." Immediately after, Amrita, an anchor with Rajya Sabha TV, acknowledged her relationship with Singh. "I have separated from my husband and we have filed a mutual consent divorce papers. After which I have decided to marry with (sic.) Digvijaya Singh," she tweeted.
Singh's wife, Asha, passed away in Delhi in February 2013 after battling cancer for years. He has a son and three daughters.
While it is unclear who leaked selfies of Singh and Amrita on social media, the Congress leader condemned the "encroachment in our private life". "In India, we always had the tradition of respecting the privacy of leaders and common man alike. Such privacy breaches are condemnable and should not be accepted," he told dna.
The political gossip mills had been running overtime since early April when a 54-second YouTube clip, showing Singh performing "puja" with an unidentified woman went viral on the Internet. There were several comments condemning Singh for doing a puja which should be done only with his wife. "The clip they are running is of Sant Gyaneshwar Temple at Allandi where I go every year when I visit Vitho Ba temple at Pandharpur," Singh tweeted.
The Twitter exchange that followed revealed that Singh believed the clip was in retaliation to a tweet in which he had said: "Thanks to Election Commission that its stern rules brought together husband and wife separated for years. Husband remembered wife at least for the sake of the chair." The reference was of Narendra Modi declaring that he was married in his nomination papers.
In another Tweet, Singh wrote: "Modi acolytes are running a campaign against me. Obviously I have hit where it hurts. I have nothing to hide." In another tweet, he blamed Modi. "I am a widower and if I remarry I won't hide like you Dear Feku !"
Singh's admission of a romantic affair is rare and refreshing in Indian politics where such matters are kept private. In fact, barring Shashi Tharoor, who married Sunanda Pushkar while he was Union minister, no whiff of romance has ever touched Indian politicians. Mostly, political romances have been hush-hush affairs, scarcely spoken about outside a closed group. Or they have been tinged by sordidness like the one involving ND Tiwari who refused to acknowledge his son born out of wedlock; or Haryana politician Chander Mohan who converted to Islam to marry lawyer Anuradha Bali, and then left her after his father disowned him.