The veteran Congress leader met Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday, called it a ‘non-political’ meeting
Virendra Nath Bhatt
In display of rebellion against the Congress high command, veteran Congress leader ND Tiwari on Saturday 1 December showered praise on both Mulayam Singh Yadav and his chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav saying, “I want Akhilesh to rule in UP and Mulayam at the Centre.”
“Desh inki taraf dekh raha hai,” (the country was looking towards Mulayam Singh Yadav), said the 87-year-old Congress leader, flanked by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav, while addressing the media.
Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son met Tiwari on Saturday at the latter’s official residence here and the meeting lasted over 40 minutes. SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said that this was a courtesy call and no political motives should be attached to it.
After the meeting, Tiwari, who has held the posts of chief minister of both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, said that he was confident that Akhilesh Yadav would ensure rapid development of Uttar Pradesh and take the state forward. “I have been told that he is working hard and has a vision for development. He is my nephew and my blessings are with him,” Tiwari said. Tiwari added that Mulayam Singh Yadav was like a brother and he had a long association with him.
Like the SP chief, Tiwari also sought to downplay the significance of the meeting, saying that the visit by the SP leaders was a “non-political” one and that they were like his family members as he has very old ties with them.
Asked how he proposed to help Mulayam Singh in leading the country, Tiwari said, “I will help him just like you will help him.” Speaking on the issue of FDI in retail, he said that he personally felt that it would prove beneficial for the country, but added that he would not like to impose his opinion on the Samajwadi Party.
In October this year, Mulayam Singh Yadav had attended a function at SP headquarters on the occasion of Tiwari’s birthday and had admired him as a towering political leader and a statesman. Some of the political observers felt that Mulayam’s party wants to use Tiwari in order to win support of the Brahmins for Samajwadi Party. “SP may use him to its advantage in UP and Uttarakhand in the next Lok Sabha elections,” a political analyst suggested.
ND Tiwari’s disillusionment with the Congress became more evident when in reply to a question about the Congress, the veteran Congress leader quipped, “Which Congress are you referring to? There are so many Congress, like one is Nationalist Congress Party led by Sharad Pawar.” A former Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Tiwari also met some Congress leaders in the state capital on Saturday.
Tiwari’s growing proximity with the SP could spell trouble for the Congress in Uttarakhand. The Congress has a very thin edge over the BJP in the state and recently the Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket Bahuguna lost the by election in Tehri Garwhal Lok Sabha seat to the BJP. Though Tiwari may not be of much help to the SP to win seats, but he can certainly damage the electoral prospects of the Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.