Rewa 'tiger' in governor race

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Bhopal
  • Published 26.09.05
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Sriniwas Tiwari: Not grandpa, but god

Bhopal, Sept. 26: Former Madhya Pradesh Speaker Sriniwas Tiwari is tipped to become the governor of Chhattisgarh. General (retd) K.M. Seth is continuing as caretaker after his tenure ended on June 22.

Many Congress leaders, including Union HRD minister Arjun Singh, minister of state of the department of personnel Suresh Pachauri, and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh are said to have lobbied hard for the Rewa octogenarian, often called safed sher (white tiger) because of his white hair and eyebrows.

The trio is not pushing Tiwari without reason. Arjun is keen to give a fillip to the prospects of his politician-son Ajay but Tiwari has been standing in the way. So he is keen to kick Tiwari upstairs.

Digvijay is Tiwari’s old associate. During his 10-year stint as chief minister, he used Tiwari to neutralise Arjun in Rewa and in the Satna-Shahdol region.

Pachauri is an emerging force in Madhya Pradesh and his support to Tiwari is in keeping with caste-based politics.

Tiwari has a knack of being in the news for the wrong reasons. During the 2003 Madhya Pradesh polls, he had a confrontation with the Election Commission after it deleted the names of 22,000 “fake voters” from the Mangawan constituency rolls.

The EC had found that according to the rolls 1,245 voters were living in a cramped three-room mud house.

That was not all. A few days before the December 1 poll, over 500,000 holograms used in photo-identity cards went missing in Rewa. After poll panel officials pressured the local administration and police, raids were conducted and the missing holograms were found.

Tiwari is considered a kind of a legend in Rewa, the outpost of eastern Madhya Pradesh. A local saying goes: “Dada nahin, dau hain, vote pade nahin, tau hain (He’s not a grandpa but god, even if votes are not cast, he wins).”

Much like the BJP’s Narendra Modi, Tiwari’s 2003 poll campaign was focused against the Election Commission. In many public meetings, he alleged that the names of “genuine voters” were deleted from the rolls and the culprits were A.B. Vajpayee and L.K. Advani.

“The first battle is between the people of Mangawan and the Election Commission. The second is between me and Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” Tiwari had said.

But the voters of Mangawan did not buy Tiwari’s argument. He finished a poor third.