N.D. Tiwari was perhaps also the only Indian politician to accept a son after DNA testing, and was involved in a sex tape controversy as governor of Andhra.
New Delhi: “Uttarakhand meri laash pe banega” (Uttarakhand will be founded over my dead body). Ironically, the man who had uttered these words — Narayan Dutt Tiwari — went on to become the first elected chief minister of the state in 2002.
He passed away Thursday at the age of 93, after a prolonged illness and multiple organ failure.
Tiwari was not in favour of dividing Uttar Pradesh — the state he had ruled three times as chief minister. He never took part in the Uttarakhand Rajya Andolan, which was demanding the separate hill state, and yet, destiny brought him the distinction of being the first person to be chief minister of two states.
But the thing he’s probably most famous for is his personal life.
He was perhaps the only politician to accept that he had a son out of wedlock. Rohit Shekhar filed a paternity suit in 2008, claiming that Tiwari was his biological father, something confirmed by a DNA test in 2012. Tiwari accepted the fact in 2014.
That was the year when Tiwari, at the age of 88, married Rohit’s mother Ujjwala Sharma. His first wife, Sushila Tiwari, had passed away in 1991.
Also read: Veteran Congress leader ND Tiwari dies at 93
Tiwari, who served as governor of Andhra Pradesh from 2007 to 2009, had to quit after being embroiled in an alleged sex tape controversy with three women.
Tiwari was a Congressman for most of his long innings in politics, joining from the Praja Socialist Party in 1963.
In 1994, he left the Congress to float his own party (Tiwari Congres), alongside fellow veteran Arjun Singh, but rejoined once Sonia Gandhi took charge of the party in 1998.
Only towards the end of his days — ahead of the 2017 assembly elections, in fact — did Tiwari leave the Congress again, when he and Rohit Shekhar joined the BJP.
Tiwari established the Jawaharlal Nehru National Youth Centre (JNNYC), a voluntary organisation, in 1968. He became the first president of the Indian Youth Congress, a post he occupied from 1969 to 1971.
He served as chief minister of UP three times — in 1976-77, 1984-85 and 1988-89 — and as union minister in several Congress governments.
Tiwari was known for his political acumen, and his closeness to the Gandhi family. An example of this came in 2002, when despite not campaigning in the Uttarakhand elections (he campaigned in Uttar Pradesh with Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders), he managed to become the CM.
“Harish Rawat had been working very hard in the state, and in political circles, everyone was expecting him to be the chief minister. But Tiwari managed to persuade Sonia Gandhi and he was made the chief minister,” said a senior Congress leader.
Tiwari had a razor-sharp memory. Those close to him recount how he would call each helper and worker at the Vidhan Sabha and every single party worker by name.
He was the only person currently occupying government accommodation on Delhi’s Tilak Lane under the freedom fighter category.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi led the tributes to Tiwari.
Saddened by the passing away of Shri ND Tiwari Ji. A towering leader, he was known for his administrative skills. He will be remembered for his efforts towards industrial growth & working for the progress of UP & Uttarakhand, a state he steered in its initial days. My condolences
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 18, 2018
I’m sorry to hear about the passing of Shri N D Tiwari ji an important and illustrious member of the Congress family, who was respected and admired across party lines. My condolences to his family in their time of grief.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 18, 2018
Condoling Tiwari’s demise, Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat of the BJP praised his contribution to building the state.
“Uttarakhand can never forget Tiwari’s contributions to the state. Tiwari had contributed in making Uttarakhand industrially and economically self-sufficient,” he said.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.