ND Tiwari dabbles in hill state’s pol drama

Veteran politician lands in Dehradun to advise Cong rebels whose exit from party brought Harish Rawat govt down

NEW DELHI : In a new twist in the ongoing political drama in Uttarakhand, 90-year-old stalwart Narayan Dutt Tiwari has landed in Dehradun to advise nine Congress rebels whose exit from the party brought down the Harish Rawat government, with the hill state put under the President’s rule since March 27 and both sides now engaged in a legal battle in Nainital High Court.

A former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and thrice Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and many times a Congress Union Minister, Tiwari has volunteered to advise the rebels, using his experience in splitting the Congress in 1995 with late Arjun Singh and running a new party of Indira Congress. Both disbanded the party and returned to Congress a year later.

The rebels are excited over the old man coming to their rescue to guide them as Subodh Uniyal, one of the rebels, said after meeting Tiwari that “he is an encyclopedia of political upheavals and management in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and knows how to simplify even the most complicated situation.”

Tiwari has invited all rebel MLAs to his residence in Dehradun after April 18 to advise them on how to form a new political party. He told Uniyal that the Congress would never take them back while the BJP would keep them at bay to avoid the allegation of destabilising the state.

The Congress veteran is considered an expert in always being relevant despite the controversies in his life. He had to resign as Governor of Andhra Pradesh following an alleged sleaze scandal and also lost a paternity case filed by his biological son, Rohit Shekhar. He finally accepted Ujjwala Sharma as his wife and Rohit as his son and now lives with them in Lucknow, occasionally visiting Uttarakhand, his home state.

Tiwari is a known adversary of ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat and hence the rebels are banking on him. A single-judge Bench of Uttarakhand High Court had allowed them to cast their votes in a floor test despite their disqualification by Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal on ground of defection. The case is now pending before a division bench, which would hear the matter on April 18.

Only last October, Tiwari had caused embarrassment to the Rawat Government by going on a sit-in protest at Haldwani against the poor facilities at a government-run hospital there named after his first wife Sushila Tiwari.

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