The only politician to have served as chief minister of two states, Narayan Dutt Tiwari — who passed away in a Delhi hospital on his 93rd birthday — was remembered by his UP Cabinet colleagues as a “visionary” right from his Youth Congress days.
Tiwari, who was the state’s last Congress CM and served for three terms, was a “great planner” and equally popular among members of opposition parties as he was in his own, they said.
“He had joined Congress in 1964 and had become part of Youth Congress. Soon after, he submitted a working plan for the UP wing to Indira Gandhi and went on to become the national president of Youth Congress in 1966. He gave the Youth Congress an ultra-modern look and it was on his suggestion that youth leaders were sent to other countries,” said Congress leader Ram Krishna Dwivedi, who was national general secretary of Youth Congress at the time and became Tiwari’s colleague in the Cabinet in 1971.
“He was always a great planner… I was home minister and he minister of power and transport in the early 1970s. I remember, even as CM, he would go for surprise inspections of road construction at 1-2 am. He used to sleep at 3 am,” said Dwivedi. “He was the one who had initiated the idea of using hot mix plants in construction of roads. He would come up with new ideas to upgrade the power sector and even made the work plan for construction of power plants,” he added.
The Congress held a condolence meet at their state headquarters in Lucknow Thursday, calling Tiwari’s death a “loss to Indian politics which cannot be filled”. The state government announced two days of mourning on October 20 and 21. Before his last rites are performed on October 21, Tiwari’s body will be brought to Lucknow, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, where it will be kept at the Vidhan Bhawan for tributes, said an official spokesperson of the government.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ammar Rizvi, who was deputy CM when Tiwari was chief minister in 1976, said, “He was a very methodical person and very few people would know that the credit for NOIDA goes to him. I remember the early winters of 1976, when Sanjay Gandhi was at the CM’s residence and a discussion began about the growing congestion of roads in Delhi. It was Tiwariji who suggested setting up a satellite town between Delhi and Bulandshahr.”
He added, “A team including Tiwari ji, me and Baldev Singh Arya went to do a site inspection. There were wheat crops all over the place, which had to be cut for our helicopter to land. Credit for planned construction of power plants in the state goes to him.”
Rizvi said Tiwari was noticed by Jawahar Lal Nehru much before he had joined the Congress, when he was studying in Allahabad University, where he had topped in political science and foreign affairs. He said that as finance minister, Tiwari was acknowledged by The New York Times, and as foreign minister, he used his links to improve ties with Pakistan because his counterpart Shahabjada Yakub Ali Shah hailed from Rampur, neighbouring Tiwari’s Kashipur constituency.
“In Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna’s Cabinet, there were 12 ministers. Now just me and Mohsina Kidwaiji are left. In Tiwariji, the country has lost a great visionary,” he added.