The media glare on justice (retd) Giridhar Malaviya as a descendant of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya consequent to the announcement of Bharat Ratna for the illustrious leader has prompted other members of the family to stand up and be counted.
The matter has reached President Pranab Mukherjee. The argument is over who should receive the award conferred on Mahamana — a sobriquet by which the Banaras Hindu University founder is popularly known.
The dates for the award ceremony haven’t been finalised. The government was yet to decide whether Ratna awards announced for Malaviya and Atal Behari Vajpayee should be conferred separately or together with the Padma awards, a presidential aide said.
Justice Malaviya is Pandit Malaviya’s grandson from his youngest son Govind. He came into the limelight as a proposer for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s candidature from Varanasi and was by his side when Modi visited the ancient city to a rousing reception on April 25 last year.
Pandit Malaviya had four sons. He designated his eldest son Ramakant Malaviya as the “executor” of the will he wrote in 1942. But Ramakant’s death in 1943 made him write another will in October the same year, naming Sridhar, his grandson from the deceased eldest son, its executor.
In a letter to the President, Sridhar Malaviya’s 92-year-old widow Saraswati has drawn his attention to Mahamana’s will. “As the family’s oldest living member and the widow of the executor of his will, I have received no intimation about the Bharat Ratna for Mahamana Malaviya,” she wrote.
She is understood to have appended with her letter to Mukherjee a copy of the will besides a “family tree”, including Pandit Malaviya’s four sons and their descendants. Her letter contests the impression created through media that justice Malaviya was the sole heir of Mahamana. Insisting that she had nothing against justice Malaviya, who was three at the time of her marriage, Saraswati said it was the government’s responsibility to arrive at the truth in line with the will that was the proof of Mahamana’s wishes.
“Mahamana named my husband as the executor of his will even when his three sons were alive,” she said. Saraswati lives in Allahabad. Her sons Rajeev and Pradeep are based in Delhi and Mumbai, respectively.
“The highest honour conferred on him should be presented to the senior-most member of the family as that alone will be a fair and befitting tribute to his memory,” she said.