Even as Congress President Rahul Gandhi is fending off accusations over his citizenship in the dead heat of the parliamentary elections, a nurse from Kerala has grabbed headlines. Rajamma Vavathil, a nurse who worked in a Delhi hospital in the 70s, remembers how she held Rahul in her hands even before his mother did so.
Gandhi's citizenship row was kicked up by BJP parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy who accused him of being a UK citizen. On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition asking it to direct the Election Commission to disqualify Gandhi from contesting in the elections. Earlier, acting on the complaint by Swamy, the ministry of home affairs had sought clarification from Gandhi.
But Rajamma, 72, has a vivid story to tell. The nurse hails from Kalloor in Wayanad, the same constituency from where the junior Gandhi is contesting in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, besides Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. She has fond memories of an infant Rahul whom she had held in her hands after Sonia Gandhi gave birth to him at the Holy Family Hospital in Delhi.
Rajamma still remembers the date 19 June 1970, when Rahul had first cried in the labour room of the hospital. The Holy Family Hospital is well known among the elite circles as it is the preferred choice among the capital's VIPs. She and her colleagues at the hospital knew about the care they had to give to the daughter-in-law of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
According to the reports, Rajamma said that the Gandhi family including Sonia Gandhi was very co-operative during the whole labour session. She still remembers the time when Rahul's father Rajiv Gandhi was patiently waiting for the birth of his child at the waiting room along with his brother Sanjay Gandhi.
"Sonia seemed a simple person and was very cooperative. We didn't face any pressure although we were handling a VVIP...Even the Prime Minister ensured that her visits did not cause any disturbance," Rajamma told The Telegraph.
Wish to meet Rahul in Wayanad
She said that she is saddened by Subramanian Swamy's remarks over Rahul's nationality. "I was lucky as I was first among the few who took the newborn baby in my hands. He was so cute. I was witness to his birth. I was thrilled...we all were thrilled to see the grandson of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi," said Rajamma, reports PTI.
After retiring from the Army in Ahmedabad, Rajamma returned to Kerala in 1987 and is now settled in Kalloor near Sulthan Bathery. However, she has expressed her desire to meet Rahul Gandhi. She hopes to meet her 'grandson' (as she fondly calls him) the next time he visits Wayanad as she was not able to meet him previously because her family was out of the station at that time.
The government has given Rahul Gandhi 15 days to respond to the serious allegation. The notice has been served to him as India does not allow dual nationality and only Indian citizens can contest in the elections.
The Congress, on its part, dismisses the allegations, saying the Supreme Court had thrown out a similar plea against Gandhi in 2015.