Tara Singh Varma
Tarapatie (Tara) Oedayraj Singh Varma (born in Springlands (British Guyana), August 29, 1948) is a former Dutch politician and former member of the House of Representatives for the GreenLeft party who gained notoriety after falsely claiming to suffer from an incurable cancer.
Life before politics
Although she was born in British Guyana, she attended vocational education in Surinam, which was a colony of the Netherlands at the time, studying teaching and law, without graduating. She then moved to Amsterdam, in the continental part of the Netherlands. In Amsterdam she became active for the Communist Party of the Netherlands. Between 1982 and 1994 she was member of the Amsterdam municipal council for the CPN, between 1986 and 1990 for the Left Accord, a common list of the Pacifist Socialist Party and the Political Party of Radicals, and between 1990 and 1994 for GreenLeft, which was formed by a merger of CPN, PSP, PPR, and the small Evangelical People's Party.
Singh Varma was very active in civil society. She was a member various boards of associations and foundations for migrants, women and other social groups. She founded and led an Amsterdam information point. She had a column in the women's weekly Furore, and was a member of the radio panel of the VARA radio show Punch. She also was treasurer of the Grenada Committee.
After the 1994 election, Singh Varma became a member of the House of Representatives. She succeeded Ina Brouwer, who had stepped down after the poor election results. She was the first female member of the House of Representatives who was not born in the Netherlands. When she entered parliament questions were raised about her integrity. There were questions surrounding fundraising efforts for the Grenada Foundation in which Singh Varma was involved. A committee led by former minister Dieuwke de Graaff-Nauta came to the conclusion that Singh Varma had not embezzled money, but that her actions as treasurer had been neglectful. In parliament Singh Varma spoke on home affairs, health, and welfare. She paid particular attention to the position of migrant women. While in parliament she took many positions outside of parliament in boards of foundations and associations for migrants, women and other social groups. She chaired the Surinam Women's Council and was member of the board of the Volunteer Centre in Amsterdam, the migrant women centre Zami, and the prostitutes' trade union the Red Thread. In 1996 she claimed to be intimidated and attacked by far right groups. No proof of this was ever found.
In 1997 she was put on the ninth place on the GreenLeft list for the 1998 election. The committee for candidacy stated that she "did not excel in parliamentary work," but because of the unexpectedly good election result for the GreenLeft she was re-elected. She also got a large number of preference votes. In 1998 she was a member of the parliamentary inquiry committee on the airplane crash in the Bijlmermeer. This position got her national fame.
Singh Varma Affair
In 2000 Singh Varma claimed that she was less able to perform her work as Member of Parliament. Twice she appeared in the House of Representatives in a wheelchair. She claimed to suffer from an incurable form of cancer and announced that she would leave the House of Representatives to prepare for the end of her life.
In June 2001 the TROS television show Opgelicht?! (in English Framed?!) discovered that Singh Varma did not suffer from cancer. Moreover, according to this program, Singh Varma had not fulfilled financial promises to the Indian development organization Ninash Foundation, which had put the organization into financial problems.
First Singh Varma denied both claims and sued the journalists. In August 2001 she claimed that she had not suffered from cancer and instead suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after self-fabricated far right threats and her commitment to the victims of the plane crash in the Bijlmermeer. In 2002 she publicly apologized for her actions. She denied lying on purpose about her diseases and stated that she suffered from delusions and medical condition called pseudologia fantastica. Paul Rosenmöller, political leader of the GreenLeft at the time writes that he felt "cheated and angry" because of her revelations.
Life after politics
After leaving parliament Singh Varma became editor of the People's Newspaper Suriname around 2005. Later she worked in a Surinam deli.
References and footnotes
- "Tara Singh Varma" (in Dutch). TROS Opgelicht? !. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
In totaal tien mensen, van wie de meesten Tara Singh Varma heel goed kennen, verklaren tegenover Opgelicht ! dat ze niet in de ziekte geloven. Ze dragen een groot aantal dingen aan die daar op zouden wijzen. Een paar voorbeelden: op de dag dat Tara in een rolstoel naar de kamer ging, was haar voormalige vriendin die ochtend nog bij haar geweest. De avond daarvoor waren ze flink wezen stappen, en de avond nadat Tara met de rolstoel naar de kamer was gegaan was ze weer kiplekker.Wanneer mensen in haar directe omgeving naar haar behandelend artsen vroegen kregen ze nooit een direct antwoord. Ze noemde ooit drie artsen, maar twee van hen bestonden niet, en de derde kende haar niet. Met een andere vriendin ging ze 's ochtends nadat ze volgens eigen zeggen een chemokuur had gehad, naar het reisbureau om een reis naar India te boeken. [...] Dit zou de gebeurtenis zijn die heeft geleid tot de ontdekking dat Tara Singh Varma kanker had.
- Lucardie, Paul; B. de Boer, I. Noomen and G. Voerman (2002). "Kroniek 2001. Overzicht van de partijpolitieke gebeurtenissen van het jaar 2001". Jaarboek DNPP (Groningen: DNPP). Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- Singh Varma, Tara. "Dutch Wikipedia" (in Dutch).
- "T. Oedayraj Singh Varma". Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- Paul Rosenmöller (2003), Een mooie hondenbaan, Amsterdam: Balans, p. 234
- profile on parlement.com Dutch language