In a rare outbursts of emotion, the parents of the Reserve Bank of India Governor, Raghuram Rajan, have broken their silence on the humiliation meted out to their son by the BJP MP, Subramanian Swamy and his supporters.
Swamy had questioned Rajan’s patriotism through his social media posts and letters he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rajan’s father and retired senior bureaucrat R Govindarajan told Indian Express that the popular RBI Governor may have opted for the second term if the government had reacted promptly when the attacks on him started.
His mother, Mythili, 76, said that her son “may be angry at me for these comments”, but the personal attacks hurt.
“As a father, I need not speak for him,” the octogenarian Govindarajan said.
“The entire world is watching this, the way he was subjected to a series of attacks and controversy.”
Mother Mythili said, “Let anyone question his policies, or style of functioning. But isn’t it unfair attacking someone personally, questioning his patriotism?”
She said that Rajan was born in India and had come to India hoping to do better things.
Mythili said that Swamy questioning her son’s particularly hurt because of her husband’s long service in government.
Govindarajan reportedly tried to stop her as she let her emotions flow.
She said, “Life hasn’t been easy for us. My husband was the kind of man who lived for his job, who considered his wife, children all secondary. It was left to me to manage the children. Raghu was fearless. During the Sikh riots, my husband was posted in England. I had to be with him, leaving Raghu and his younger brother alone at our Delhi home. As we heard the news of Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the attacks on Sikhs, I asked my younger sister to come and stay with them in Delhi. On her way, the train was attacked as there was a Sikh youth on it. It was Raghu who went and brought her home. After she reached home, Raghu left again, for IIT, where he and his friends had been busy hiding as many Sikh youths from attacks as they could, as the IIT hostel was the safest place.”
Mythili continued, “I heard the stories from his siblings and others… Raghu was the general secretary of the students’ union in IIT, he might have felt it was his duty.”
It was because of “this nature” of Rajan that Mythili ensured he went to IIT and not St Stephens, where he wanted to study Economics, Govindarajan smiled.
About Rajan’s personal life as a college student, Mythili recalled that he was often surrounded by girls in school.
She added, “Had I allowed him to study Economics in St Stephens, he would have entered politics like leaders we see in JNU these days. That was the age.”
Govindarajan’s own career with the government ended on a sour note, and he is believed to have been denied a promotion as R&AW chief because of a run-in with then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi over Bofors.
But he refuses to talk about it now. “All that is gone,” he said. “He wouldn’t let me talk about it either,” Mythili said.
“Govindarajan had to sit at home for almost four months after serving the country for more than two decades. Finally, after facing several ordeals and insults, he was appointed as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee before his retirement,” said a retired officer who worked with him.
Mythili’s said that her only regret was that Rajan couldn’t spend enough time with them, “coming home hardly four or five times since he became the RBI Governor”.
“Even if he finds time to visit, he can’t stay with us. He has to stay in a hotel where his security and all the formalities can be taken care of. During my husband’s birthday last year, he decided to take him to Kodaikanal. On the way, I requested him to take me to Madurai Meenakshi temple too, which he luckily could manage time for. Rajan is a rare visitor to temples. A man with so much goodness need not visit temples. The god is within, I know,” Mythili said.
Mythili said that Rajan wouldn’t show his emotions in public even though he may have been incredibly hurt. “He would just stop talking to that person.”
She concluded, “It doesn’t matter even if he didn’t get timely support from the government. He may be hurt but it won’t affect him in anyway.”