Confusion over whether both ND Tiwari and son have joined BJP

On Wednesday morning, media reports said Congress leader ND Tiwari and his son Rohit Shekhar had joined BJP. By evening, NDTV reported party sources saying only Shekhar had joined BJP

Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

Confusion reigns over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s latest poaching attempt, with multiple media reports saying on Wednesday that senior Congress leader and former UP and Uttarakhand Chief Minister ND Tiwari had joined the party, along with his son Rohit Shekhar. Wire service ANI tweeted a photo of the 91-year-old leader and his son arriving at BJP National President Amit Shah’s Delhi residence. Widely respected wire service PTI also published the news. However, there was a deafening, and unusual silence from the BJP itself.

The party’s media managers, who usually lose no time to break the news on leaders of other parties switching to BJP, on almost all party communication platforms, had nothing to say. There was no related press release on the BJP’s official website. Amit Shah’s Twitter timeline too was silent on the Tiwaris. Just two days back, he had tweeted about another Congress leader from Uttarakhand, Yashpal Arya joining the BJP, complete with photos.

Is it that what was supposed to be a coup, as per media reports, turned out to be a damp squib? An NDTV report on Wednesday evening saying sources in the party confirmed that it was only Shekhar who had joined the BJP, has added to the mystery.

Even Congress leaders seemed surprised to hear about the veteran Tiwari joining the BJP. There was no official Congress response to the media reports. It was only late in the evening that ND Tiwari’s nephew and Uttarakhand PCC Secretary Manishi Tiwari released a statement. However, he too seemed to have been ignorant of the facts, and expressed “shock” at his uncle quitting the Congress. He reasoned that the senior leader would never desert the Congress party “on his own” volition: “We strongly believe that these decisions are being made for him, by others, keeping in mind their own interests and agendas.”

BJP spokespersons that National Herald contacted on Wednesday seemed clueless about the development. Other party sources, however, said that the 91-year-old leader had sought a ticket in the Kumaon region of poll-bound Uttarakhand for his son. And, the short-listed seats were Bhimtal and Haldwani.

Some questions remained unanswered though:

  • Why was the BJP silent throughout the day to clarify on whether ND Tiwari had joined or not?
  • Was it trying to woo the senior Congress leader as well, but failed?
  • Will the subsequent embarrassment make the BJP go back on any deal promised to Shekhar?
  • Will just the son joining help the BJP in any way in the Uttarakhand polls if ND Tiwari continues to remain with the Congress?


Interestingly, Tiwari had written to Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh on January 8, wherein he suggested that the latter pass on the reigns of the party to his son, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and end the family feud. He had, in that letter, also mentioned that he was busy trying to get a seat “of his choice” for his son in the forthcoming Uttarakhand polls. Was the veteran referring to a seat from the Congress, or the BJP?

ND Tiwari’s letter dated January 8, 2017 to Mulayam Singh Yadav, in which he mentions seeking a seat of his choice

Tiwari was thrice the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (1976-77, 1984-85, 1988-89) and the first Chief Minister of Uttarakhand (2002-2007). He has held many ministerial berths in the 1980s, including that of External Affairs (1986-1987) in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet. He was also Governor of Andhra Pradesh between 2007 and 2009, but had to resign after a scandal.

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Published: 18 Jan 2017, 8:36 PM