Top BJP leaders pay homage to ND Tiwari in UP, Congress says appropriating legacy
The body of ND Tiwari, a three-time UP chief minister, was brought to Lucknow on Saturday and taken to the state assembly where top politicians paid homage. The last rites were performed in in Uttarakhand in Tiwari’s home district Nainital on Sunday.Updated: Oct 21, 2018 21:38 IST
Top leaders of Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other parties were present to receive and pay homage to the mortal remains of former chief minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari but senior Congress leaders were largely absent from the final journey of the veteran politician who was the last from the party to rule the crucial state.
A three-time UP chief minister, Tiwari’s body, escorted from Delhi to Lucknow by deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, was received at the airport Saturday by chief minister Yogi Adityanath and the BJP top brass along with those of Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with Congress representation largely left to state leaders Ammar Rizvi, Pramod Tiwari and Sanjay Sinh.
The SP was represented by Mulayam Singh Yadav and party chief Akhilesh Yadav while BSP chief Mayawati rushed senior leader Satish Mishra to represent her.
The body of Tiwari, who was also the first elected chief minister of Uttarakhand, the governor of Andhra Pradesh and a Union minister who handling portfolios such as finance, foreign affairs, industry, petroleum and labour in the Rajiv Gandhi government, was taken to the state assembly where governor Ram Naik, Bihar governor Lalji Tandon and others paid homage.
The BJP government also announced two-day state mourning in Tiwari’s memory.
The body of Tiwari, who passed away at a private hospital in Delhi on his 93rd birthday on October 18 after a prolonged illness was later brought to Uttarakhand’s Pantnagar in an air ambulance on Saturday and brought to Kathgodam Guest House for people to pay homage. UP minister Baldev Olakh had accompanied it from Lucknow.
The last rites were held with full state honours in his home district of Nainital on Sunday.
The Congress, which accused the BJP of appropriating Tiwari’s legacy, blamed Tiwari’s son, Rohit Shekhar, for the thin party presence.
“We wanted Tiwariji’s mortal remains to be brought to the UPCC office but our request was turned down by Rohit,” UPCC secretary Devendra Pratap Singh told Hindustan Times.
Shekhar couldn’t be reached despite repeated attempts, but Tiwari’s personal secretary Mukesh Sharma denied the Congress accusation.
“It’s wholly untrue. The request should have come from senior Congress leadership from UPCC chief onwards but that didn’t happen. A few lower level functionaries making a request amounted to nothing and it’s true that while BJP went out of its way to give Tiwariji a befitting farewell, the Congress was found lacking,” Sharma said.
Citing deputy CM Dinesh Sharma’s condolence message in which the BJP leader was quoted as saying that Tiwari’s stature was second to none, he said: “They (BJP) walked the extra mile.”
A long-time Gandhi family loyalist, Tiwari had announced support for BJP ahead of the 2017 Uttarakhand assembly elections but had stopped short of joining the party.
“He was a proud Congressman till his last breath but it’s unfortunate that while the BJP went out of its way and showed respect to him, his own party was found wanting in a state where Tiwariji was the CM three times,” said Ammar Rizvi, who along with Mohsina Kidwai are now the oldest surviving members of Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna cabinet of which Tiwari was also a part.
Though top Congress leaders in Delhi – from party chief Rahul Gandhi to United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh – mourned Tiwari’s demise, many party veterans were aghast to find no senior Congress functionary in UP around when Tiwari’s mortal remains arrived. Several Congress functionaries were either away on party work or blissfully unaware of the arrival of Tiwari’s mortal remains. Other Congress leaders, who requested they not be named, admitted that Tiwari deserved better.
Congress spokesman Zishan Haider, however, said that wreaths in the name of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and state chief Raj Babbar were placed on Tiwari’s body at the assembly. “Raj Babbarji was down with fever but the other Congress leaders were there,” Haider said.
He also tweeted a video showing BJP leaders sharing a laugh near Tiwari’s body. Responding to it, SP spokesman Juhie Singh wondered if this is how BJP leaders showed respect to the departed soul.
“BJP has nothing of its own and is busy appropriating the legacy of our leaders,” said Congress leader Devendra Pratap.
On October 31, chief minister Yogi Adityanath will fly to Gujarat to witness the unveiling of the tallest Sardar Patel statue, named the ‘statue of liberty’, which the BJP government has got built in memory of the Congress veteran who was also the country’s first home minister.