In another twist to the family tussle over who would receive the Bharat Ratna conferred posthumously on Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, his Japan-based grandson, Lakshmidhar Malaviya suggested that the award be sent to the Banaras Hindu University “to be deposited there at Malaviya Bhawan.”
Lakshmidhar was reacting to HT’s January 15 report on differences over the issue among Mahamana’s descendants from his four sons.
In a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, 92-year-old Saraswati Malaviya, widow of Pandit Malaviya’s grandson from his eldest son has claimed the right to receive the Bharat Ratna.
She put forth her demand as the oldest surviving member of the extended family and the widow of Sridhar Malaviya, whom Mahamana had named the “executor” of his will after the death of his eldest son Ramakant Malaviya.
In an email to HT from Kyoto, Lakshmidhar attached a letter he received from his cousin, justice Giridhar Malaviya.
Justice Malaviya, Mahamana’s grandson from his youngest son, claimed in the letter (to his cousin) that he wasn’t “informed or invited” to receive the Bharat Ratna. The retired judge made it clear that the award be placed amongst the belongings of “Babuji” that are on display in BHU. “(I also told the media) I was hopeful that Nai Bhabhi (Saraswati) will do so as she probably is the only person who has written to the President to give it (the award) to her,” he said in the letter.
Lakshmidhar’s father was third among Pandit Malaviya’s four sons. But Saraswati’s son, Rajeev Malaviya, while agreeing that the award be kept at the BHU, insisted the highest civilian honour for the family patriarch be received by “direct descendants” of the executor of his will.
For his part, Lakshmidhar wrote: “I am writing this in response to your article in HT regarding the assumed rift in our family over the Bharat Ratna to Pandit Malaviya...Needless to add, the very appearance of such a news item in the media hurt us deeply...All ten of us cousin brothers are known by names bestowed upon us by him... Please be kind enough to convey on our behalf the request to concerned authority that this prestigious reward be kindly sent to Banaras Hindu University, to be deposited there at Malaviya Bhawan.”