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After refusal from SP, veteran Congressman ND Tiwari switches side and joins BJP just so his son gets a ticket

By Sujit Bhar

Narayan Dutt Tiwari, a Congress veteran and a Nehru-Gandhi acolyte for most of his 91-year life so far, changed his colours and his identity on January 18. As had been rumoured, he arrived at BJP president Amit Shah’s Asoka Road residence at around 12.30 this afternoon. He was accompanied by his son Rohit Shekhar Sharma, and carried with him the support of many former Uttarakhand chief ministers, except the incumbent Harish Rawat of the Congress.

Tiwari had been once chief minister of Uttarakhand and had also been chief minister of Uttar Pradesh thrice between 1976 and 1989.

Shah welcomed Tiwari with the traditional shawl, symbol of the BJP, and a bouquet of flowers as Tiwari signed on the dotted lines that allowed him to switch allegiance.

Rawat has refused to pay any attention to this, saying the Congress was ready to go it alone in Uttarakhand and would not miss any moral support from outside. Pradeep Tamta, Congress spokesperson, has said: “If he wishes to go, he can. Some vested interests are using him to further their ends.”

Tiwari’s change of heart had nothing to do with his relationship with the Congress. He had been an inner-circle man of the Nehru-Gandhi family and of successive prime ministers, and it was difficult to think of him as anybody but just that. He did it for his son, Rohit, who was refused a ticket by the Samajwadi Party (SP) for the Haldwani seat, where the sitting MLA is Indira Hridyesh of the Congress.

This meant Tiwari could not even approach the Congress for a ticket for his son for that particular seat, because the Congress has declared its alliance with the SP. The only way out was to let go of his very identity, his life’s work and his ideology and join the BJP.

How the BJP will benefit from the 91-year-old Tiwari’s arrival is not clear. Tiwari had been out of politics for some time, and the image the people hold of him at this point isn’t a happy one. If the BJP wants to boost its prospects with the Brahmins in the coming polls, Tiwari, at least, should be visible in campaigns. Considering his physical condition, Tiwari is unlikely to be able to join the campaign for the BJP.

Incidentally, Tiwari becomes the oldest member of the BJP, being older than even the party’s top ideologist and member of the party’s Margdarshak Mandal Lal Krishna Advani, who is reaching 90.

One thing, though, looks eminently possible through this arrangement; Tiwari’s son Rohit should now get a Haldwani ticket from the BJP.

How did it come to such a pass, that a father had to give up decades of hard work and even his identity for a son he not so long ago didn’t even want to recognise? A DNA test has proved that Rohit was his biological son, though out of marriage.

Tiwari, a freedom fighter, an accomplished scholar and a former Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet, has been embroiled in sex scandals that have done little to enhance his image. Apart from scandals that rocked the administration when he was governor, Rohit filed a paternity suit against him in 2008. Rohit claimed that Tiwari was his biological father.

This case went completely out of hand, with the court not only ordering a DNA mapping of Tiwari to compare with Rohit, but the Delhi High Court in 2012 also rejected a request from Tiwari’s lawyers to keep the result a secret. Results, available in July that year established Rohit as the son.

In March 2014 Tiwari not only accepted Rohit as his son, but also married Rohit’s mother Ujjwala Sharma.

All that has led to this day’s fiasco. The credibility of politics has been the biggest loser.

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