ONE person who came back to limelight during the poll campaign after a political hibernation in the state is Narayan Dutt Tiwari. The octogenarian hogged lots of publicity all the while.
From getting three ticket for persons of his choice (including one for his nephew Manish Tiwari from the Gadarpur seat) from the Congress high command, the grand old man of Uttarakhand politics was all over the place in the media, be it the print or the electronic medium.
There was lots of news for mediapersons as Tiwari never disappointed them by his acts and words. The first major news was his campaigning for his friend-turned-foe to being a friend again Indira Hridayesh. Hridayesh was a Cabinet Minister in the Tiwari government from 2002 to 2007 and contested the current poll from her traditional Haldwani seat. Tiwari not only held a media briefing in her favour but also participated in a road show in her favour. He went to the Muslim-dominated area of Vanbhoolpura seeking votes for her.
He gave a story to the mediapersons when he said he rued not having been able to become the Prime Minister in 1991. At that time he was one of the top contenders for the post after the demise of Rajiv Gandhi but he had lost the Lok Sabha poll held after Rajiv’s assassination. PV Narasimha Rao had been chosen the Prime Minister.
Sometime later during the campaign he sent the Congress into a disarray when he said he would not mind becoming the Chief Minister once again for a spell of two years.
People are yet to comprehend what he had meant when asked in Gadarpur about who would win the poll. He had said, ”Jai Maa Kali” and had gone to make the traditional invocation sound of Bengalis. Incidentally, an independent candidate with a nickname of Kali was also contesting from the seat against Tiwari’s nephew Manish Tiwari.
No matter, what Tiwari continues to be an enigma in Uttarakhand.
During a visit to his native area of Padampuri on the day of polling, some journalists came across an old man who narrated a story that during his young days, boys were asked to fetch wooden blocks brought down by gushing waters of local streams. The old man says, “I had a friend who could not swim. Same was the case with me. My friend had made an arrangement with other boys who were good swimmers that they would extract the blocks from the stream and we would carry them up half the distance to the village only to split the booty equally later. This friend was none other than ND Tiwari. You can imagine how good a manager he was even as a child.”
Political gossip on rise
With the votes having been cast and results awaited in the first week of March, the people of the area have enough time for political gossip and speculation. This is precisely what the people are doing these days. For those who have contested the poll, the wait is a bit too long but for those who just played the part of the voter or the supporter, there is enough time to indulge in gossip and analyse the polling that took place from various angles.
The question foremost on the mind of the people is that who will form the government. The second scenario being analysed is whether there will be a party securing a simple of two-thirds majority.
The third obvious question is who will be the Chief Minister. While in case of the BJP it is expected to be Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri as it was in the name of his “clean” image that the party had gone out seeking votes in the state.
But in case of the Congress forming the government, there are several claimants and choices available at hand. Speculation is rife whether it will be the Hardwar Lok Sabha member Harish Rawat who will eventually be the Chief Minister or will it be someone else.
This brings the people yet another point to ponder whether Congress president Sonia Gandhi will want a bypoll in Hardwar as making Rawat the Chief Minister will also mean one Lok Sabha member less in Parliament at a time when the graph of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is not looking too good.
It is amid all this that people are spending their time particularly in places like Nainital where it is an off-season in context of tourism-related activity which is the mainstay of the majority of the people of the town.
Koshiyari hai majboori
There is a question among the young BJP workers with regards to former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. These youngsters are perplexed over the party giving so much importance to Koshiyari despite the fact that he has played the role of a “destabiliser” every time someone other than him from the party was in the driving seat.
The youngsters point out that be it the case of Nityanand Swami, Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri and later Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank, Koshiyari has had a role to play in the removal of every single one of them.
When the curiosity of the young brigade from the party was aired to a senior party functionary, he evaded the issue while joking, “Our slogan for the poll ‘Khanduri hai zaroori’ should have had a rider. It should have read Khanduri hai zaroori aur Koshiyari hai mazboori.”
There is a sentiment among a section of BJP workers that Koshiyari supporters were annoyed when the slogan “Khanduri hai zaroorie” was coined. “Did that mean that Koshiyari and others were gair zaroori (unimportant)?” they asked.