New Delhi: The BJP clarified on Wednesday evening that 91-year-old Narain Dutt Tiwari has not joined the party, hours after the Congress veteran met BJP chief Amit Shah and other leaders in Delhi. The party said only Mr Tiwari's son Rohit Shekhar has joined it
ND Tiwari had acknowledged Mr Shekhar as his son three years ago after a six-year legal battle to establish paternity. His presence at his son's launch as a BJP man is seen as an endorsement of the party ahead of elections in Uttarakhand and the new association an attempt by the party to consolidate the Brahmin vote in Uttarkhand, where elections will be held next month.
The BJP already faces rebellion in the hill state after naming people who joined the party only recently as candidates for the election, among them the Congress legislators who rebelled against current Chief Minister Harish Rawat of the Congress last year pushing him to seek a confidence vote.
The party has so far announced 64 candidates for Uttarakhand, which has 70 assembly seats.
Explaining the switch from the Congress, Rohit Shekhar said, "Have you in the last seven to eight years seen any Congress leader who's had the decency to come and meet my father, to ask how he's doing at least? Have you seen my father's face on any political hoarding?
ND Tiwari has been the Chief Minister of two states, a Union Minister and a Governor, though that stint was cut short when he resigned after a sex scandal.
A former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Mr Tiwari was also Chief Minister of undivided Uttar Pradesh - before Uttarakhand was carved out of the state - thrice. Mr Tiwari had been the Governor of Andhra Pradesh for two years when he resigned in 2009 amid severe embarrassment for the Congress after allegations of a sex scandal at the Raj Bhawan or Governor's house. 86 then, Mr Tiwari had cited poor health as the reason for his quitting.
A political heavyweight once, Mr Tiwari was even considered a potential candidate to be Prime Minister in the early 1990s. He quit the Congress in 1994 and launched his own party the Congress (Tiwari) along with another prominent Congressman Arjun Singh, but they later returned when Sonia Gandhi took over as Congress president.