AAge,” crooned musician Nick Priest, “is just a number; let’s keep the party going till the end of time.” Someone who’d heartily agree is veteran politician N.D. Tiwari who, at 91, has just announced his support to the BJP. If you think this is slightly elderly for party politics, hang on, there’s more. Tiwari’s surprise comes after decades of being a Congressman, minister, governor and squeezing in a short but scintillating interval of heading his own party. It has been a storied career since Tiwari burst onto the political scene way back in 1942, when he was apparently arrested for writing anti-British leaflets. In 1963, after some minty years as mountainous Nainital’s MLA from the Praja Socialist Party, Tiwari joined the Congress.
The switch did Tiwari much good. Apart from UP’s finance minister, in his relatively youthful mid-40s, he became the first president of the Indian Youth Congress. Famously, Tiwari became CM of UP thrice. Elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980, he became deputy chairman of the planning commission plus minister holding vital portfolios, including petroleum, external affairs, finance and commerce. In 1994, he quit the Congress, establishing his “All India Indira Congress”, bracketed with a firm “(Tiwari)”. He only returned to the mothership when Sonia Gandhi took up the Congress’s reins in 1996.
But Tiwari wasn’t going to fade gently in the political sunshine yet. He served as Uttarakhand CM from 2002-2007, quitting for age reasons — which didn’t stop him from becoming Andhra Pradesh governor, stepping down when compromising videos of him appeared.
Even then, the party wasn’t over. Tiwari hit the headlines as chief guest at a Lucknow function honouring martyrs, allegedly grabbing a female anchor for a dance. Meanwhile, Rohit Shekhar filed a paternity suit against him, a DNA test was conducted in 2012. The results broke down Tiwari’s stout denials. He married Rohit’s mother in 2014 — at a ripe 89. The colouful father now gravitates to the BJP with his son. Observers might feel exhausted just watching Tiwari’s hectic record. But clearly, for the BJP’s rangeela recruit, age is just a number.
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