The veteran Narayan Dutt Tiwari has stirred up a debate within the Congress by announcing that he is ready to take up the job of Uttarakhand Chief Minister for two years if asked to do so by the party high command.
Not a statement in haste, it seems to be a well meditated strategy of the 87-year-old beleaguered former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh popularly known as Vikas Purush.
Leading a rather neglected life at the Forest Research Institute Rest House here with not even Congressmen visiting him, Mr. Tiwari seems to have shot back on to centre stage by floating the Nirantar Vikas Samiti, an NGO, and threatening to bless candidates wanting to contest in the name of development in all the 70 Assembly constituencies recently.
Deft media management led to Virendra Singh, Congress in-charge of Uttarakhand, rushing to him at least twice trying to persuade him not to go ahead with his plans. Mr. Tiwari later declared that he was a true Congressman when his nephew Manish Tiwari and long-time Officer on Special Duty Aryendra Sharma were given party nominations from Gadarpur and Sahaspur respectively.
Not to be content with the party's gesture, Mr. Tiwari soon took to road shows in Udham Singh Nagar and Naini Tal areas before announcing in a television interview that he would not mind becoming the Chief Minister if asked to do so.
Insiders feel that Chaudhury Virendra Singh had in his report to Sonia Gandhi said that keeping Tiwari on the right side would help the party win at least 10 more seats in Kumaon.
“Why not? If the Congress claims to have worked wonders during Mr. Tiwari's rule why not respect him?” is the general feeling among a section of Congressmen here.
Party downplays issue
The Congress State unit, however, sought to downplay the issue saying any decision in this regard would be taken by the high command. “In Congress, the decision regarding who should be the new Chief Minister has to be taken by the party high command,” said Surendra Kumar, a Congress spokesman.