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CHANDRA BHAL TRIPATHI | 19 OCTOBER, 2018

The Early Life and Times of Narain Datt Tiwari

RIP


I am grieved by the passing away of Narain Datt Tiwari, a friend of 72 years, on October 18, 2018 exactly on his 93rd birthday. I came in contact with him in the latter part of 1946 when he was one of the four 'Pahadi' student leaders of Allahabad University: HN Bahuguna, ND Tiwari, Suresh Joshi and Loknath Joshi, and I was a student of Govt. Inter College, Allahabad. Except Bahuguna we all were very active in the Congress Socialist Party.

Towards the end of 1946 Jayaprakash Narayan and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, both of whom were incarcerated in the Lahore Central Jail and underwent torture visited Allahabad and we organised big receptions for them. If I remember correctly, I collcted a 'huge' amount of Rs.500 for the Jayaprakash Kosh. Lohia was very popular among students, used to visit Allhahabad frequently and stayed in the Royal Hotel in the Civil Lines. JP was relatively difficult to approach.

On November 23, 1946, I accompanied Poornima Banerji, MLA from Farrukhabad (younger sister of the then firebrand socialist leader Aruna Asaf Ali), and Ram Sumer Shukla, President, All India Students' Congress, to the Meerut session of the Indian National Congress. All the members of the Working Committee of the AISC were there. I was one of the volunteers of the AISC Volunteer Corps whose C-in-C was Dr. Ramchandra Shukla of BHU.

I don't remember if ND Tiwari was a member of the Working Committee of the AISC but those who were included Raj Narain Singh and Prabhu Narain Singh of BHU and ND Tiwari and Jang Bahadur Singh (of Charkhari) of Allahabad University who all attended the Meerut Congress.

Incidentally, there were four volunteer camps away from the venue: those of the INA led by Major General Shah Nawaz, Congress Sewa Dal led by Dr. Hardikar, Khudai Khidmatgars led by Badshah Khan and his son Wali Khan (President of NWFP Students' Congress) and AISC Volunteer Corps led by Dr. Ramchandra Shukla. I was lucky to observe Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a respected member of the CWC, from close quarters.

While the other members of the CWC stayed in well-furnished tents near the venue of the Congress session, Badshah Khan preferred to stay in an ordinary tent with his Khudai Khidmatgars and eat the same food with them: big rotis, daal and vegetable. His simplicity was legendary.

In those days the term of the office-bearers of AU Union used to be six months and thus elections to the Union were held twice a year. In 1947-48 ND Tiwari was the President of AUU for the first term and Subhash Kashyap for the second term. Tiwari had become a popular student leader having led the anti-fee enhancement movement in Allahabad. This was the first gift to the students of UP immediately after Independence.

In September 1947 the UP Government had unilaterally raised the fee by 25% at all levels. There were Statewide protests against this. In Allahabad the agitation was led by ND Tiwari. For the first time in the history of GIC, which was supposed to be a 'toady' institution not having observed a strike even during the Quit India movement, I organised a strike. Then, under the leadership of ND Tiwari the Allahabad contingent went to Gorakhpur where a Provincewide Convention of the Students' Congress was held in Dhunmundas Balmukund Inter College that was presided over by the President of the UP Students' Congress, Anant Deo Sharma of BHU.

We came close to ND Tiwari during this trip to Gorakhpur. That student agitation is remembered because of the famous episode of Home Minister Rafi Ahmad Kidwai personally visiting the Lucknow Central Jail with baskets of mangoes for the imprisoned students. (Later in 1953 I had personal experience of the large- heartedness and uniqueness of this politician from UP who had since been inducted in the Central Cabinet by Pandit Nehru.) The Govt. of UP had to withdraw its foolish order of increase in the fee. In that agitation ND Tiwari was lodged in South Malaka Jail in Allahabad.

I must record an incident here that occurred in December 1946. Due to some misunderstanding Ram Sumer Shukla, President, AISC, removed ND Tiwari from the post of its Office Secretary and asked me to take charge of that office. I must give credit to Tiwari that this incident did not leave a feeling of rancour or ill-will in him towards me. I was five years younger in age to him and he continued to treat me affectionately. Fifty years later I reminded Sadiq Ali, who was a former Governor and the President of the Congress (O) whom we had made the President of the Society for Communal Harmony after the passing away of PN Haksar, of the good old Swaraj Bhawan days when he was the Office Secretary of the AICC for a long time.

I used to call on him often at his flat in the freedom fighters' colony in Lodhi Colony aka Batukeshwar Datt colony. He would narrate some old anecdotes. Once he wrote or typed 'Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad' in a letter. Maulana Azad was angry and told him: "If you don't know the correct name of your President, how can you function as Office Secretary of the AICC office?" Sadiq Bhai tendered his resignation. Pandit ji intervened and said to Maulana Azad: "Maulana Sahab, he is an enthusiastic youngman from Udaipur. Please excuse him. He has learnt a lesson and will not repeat such a mistake."

When the socialists left the Congress in the beginning of 1948 a Convention of the UPSC was held in AUU where it was resolved to wind up the Students' Congress which had till then been an affiliate of the Congress. The CSP was renamed as the Socialist Party with JP as the General Secretary. Acharya Narendra Deva, along with 12 other CSP MLAs, resigned from the UP Assembly and contested by-elections. It was a great and bold moral step.

Though the Acharya was defeated in his home constituency of Faizabad-Ayodhya due to the communal politics indulged in by Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant (there were posters all around "Apnaa bahumoolya vote Raavan-roopi Narendra Deva ko haraa kar Ram-roopi Raghava Das ko deejiye), a great moral precedent was left for generations to come.

In the UP Students' Congress Convention at AU Union it was resolved to wind up the UPSC and set up an all India non-partisan student body known as the NUSI (National Union of Students of India) on the pattern of the Briitish NUS. We were of the view that there should be only one All India student body whereas there could be different youth organisations to promote different political ideologies.

The first NUS Convention was held in Bombay in 1950, inaugurated by Pandit Nehru and chaired by JP. In UP we formed the Young Socialist League or Naujwan Socialist Sangh. In view of this history of the student movement I am amused by a statement in Wikipedia that ND Tiwari was the Secretary of the All India Students' Congress in 1947-49. In fact, a split took place at the all India session of the AISC at Delhi in December 1946. The majority faction was led by Sri Ravindra Varma as President. I don't remember the name of the General Secretary. Probably it was RK Sinha. The other faction was led by Amiyo Bose, nephew of Netaji, who was appointed Indian Ambassador to Burma in 1977 by the Janata Govt.

When we left the Congress in February 1948 the newspapers in Allahabad published a story: "Six student leaders leave the Congress: Narain Datt Tiwari (former President, Allahabad University Union), Ramadhar Pande (President, District Students' Congress and later President, Allahabad University Union), Chandra Bhal Tripathi (President, GIC Students' Union and Joint Secretary, District Students' Congress), Padmakar Lal Srivastava (President, KP Inter College Students' Union and later an MLA), Rajani Kant Varma (President, Ewing Christian College Students' Union) and Dharmavir Goswami (studying in class IX or X in CAV High School but very active in the socialist movement)."

We became still closer in 1952 when ND Tiwari was elected an MLA from Nainital in UP Assembly and I was elected President of Lucknow University Union. In January 1953 the then autocratic Governor KM Munshi had bamboozled the Vice-Chancellors of the State Universities and got a Bill introduced in the UP Assembly which brought drastic changes in the statutes of the Universities. Tiwari wrote a brilliant article in the National Herald analysing each and every clause of the Bill and called it as the Black Bill.

On behalf of the Students' Union of LU we organised a complete strike and took out a procession that terminated at the Council Hall. At the entrance of the imposing UP Legislature and the UP Government building a meeting was set up with a big chair for CM, the redoubtable Pandit GB Pant. I spoke for a long time, basically quoting from the article by Tiwari, and the whole atmosphere was against the Government move.

Pant was getting restless and told me: "Are Bhai, tumhee bolate rahoge yaa mujhe bhee bolane doge?" (Will you continue speaking on and on or will you let me speak too?) Needless to say, the students carried the day. There were alround protests by the teachers all over the State. At this distance of time I don't remember if the Bill was totally withdrawn or adopted with modifications.

Tiwari had established himself as an intellectual leader when he was barely 27. I was victimised by the State Govt. and the Lucknow University authorities dominated by the Health Minister CB Gupta, Hony. Treasurer of Lucknow University, by cancelling my bursary of Rs.60 per month (a lordly sum in those days that I had earned by virtue of getting first division and standing third in order of merit in the BA examination; instead of 24 months I got this bursary for 6 months only), my political sufferer's scholarship of Rs.35 per month on account of my parents' participation in the freedom movement, and, will you believe it, Lucknow Station of All India Radio was instructed by the Government to cancel all my contracts as a casual drama artiste and broadcaster. An undeclared emergency!

The next important event I remember was the foundation conference of the All India Samajwadi Yuvak Sabha in April 1953 at Kashi Vidyapeeth where we all were delegates-- ND Tiwari, Rabi Ray, Chandra Shekhar, CB Tripathi and others. Soon after we had a 15-day camp of the SYS at Bhimtal from May 1 to 15, 1953. It was inaugurated by the kisan leader Swami Bhagwan and later addressed by senior leaders like Acharya Narendra Deva, Prof. Mukut Bihari Lal, Dr. Lohia. Other non-student participants included Ram Datt Joshi of Ramnagar, PSP MLA and poet, and Chandrika Singh 'Karunesh'. A prominent discussant was Kashi Nath Mishra, who was President of Allahabad University Union the same year as I was his counterpart at Lucknow. VP Singh was his colleague in AUU as Vice-President.

I recall that ND Tiwari and Pratap Singh, who later became famous as Pratap Bhaiya, were the main organisers of that camp at Bhimtal in 1953. I revisited Bhimtal (the camp site) in March 2018 after an interval of 65 years.

As long as I had regular connections with Lucknow and Lucknow University I had regular contacts with Tiwari. Once I left Lucknow University as temporary Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology to join the Office of Commissioner for SC&ST at Delhi on the first day of 1959 our contacts were sporadic primarily because I had my postings in ten far off places. But whenever we met he was extremely warm.

There was a split in the PSP in 1955 with Acharya Narendra Deva remaining as its President (unfortunately he passed away very soon on February 19, 1956) and the dissident faction was led by Dr. Lohia, SM Joshi, Madhu Limaye, Raj Narain and others under another name. Old socialist stalwarts like Faridul Haq Ansari, Prem Bhasin, SN Dwivedy, HV Kamth, Hem Barua, GG Parikh, Surendra Mohan and others stuck to the socialist creed laid down by Acharya ji. However, a group of PSP leaders like ND Tiwari, Chandra Shekhar, Babu Genda Singh, Ramayan Rai and Gauri Shankar Rai stayed on in the PSP for some years and in the confusion created by Asoka Mehta joined the Congress around 1965.

Tiwari was appointed the President of the All India Youth Congress during 1969-71. I had already been serving the Constitutional organisation for SC&ST for 10 years when during one of my visits to my old friend KC Pant, then MOS in the Ministry of Home Affairs, who and Tiwari were rivals in Kumaon politics, suggested that I should leave Government service as he would like me to replace Tiwari as the Youth Congress President.

I politely declined the offer. I had been and continue to be a follower of Acharya Narendra Deva whom I regard as my mentor besides my mother. I am far from such opportunism and lure of power and pelf. Nobody knows about this episode.

After several years I paid a courtesy call on Tiwari at the CM's bungalow in Lucknow in 1976. I was amused by the vast crowd of visitors who were occupying practically all the rooms of that spacious historical bungalow on Vikramaditya Marg popularly known as Bandaria Bagh. I was posted at Patna and was visiting my elder brother CM Mani who was DS (now redesignated as DRM) in NER at Lucknow. He was a contemporary of Tiwari at Allahabad University and expressed a desire to come with me. An old classmate and close socialist friend of mine, Bhawani Shankar Shukla, an IAS officer in the State Government then, who knew Tiwari very well, also accompanied us. Probably another old classmate and close friend KC Mishra, a senior officer in the State Government, too.

We found that the visitors' room and another adjoining room was full with visitors. Then we were advised to go into his bedroom where too a few persons were sitting. Reluctantly we went inside. Tiwari saw me, immediately got up from his chair and tightly hugged me. It might be a genuine show of affection but apparently he had developed this as a form of PR.

On return home my brother observed that Tiwari, though senior in age, had high regard for me. I told him that it was nothing but PR. This feeling was strengthened a few years later when Ramayan Rai, once Tiwari’s colleague in the UP Cabinet and now an MP, took me to his office as the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. My old friend Gauri Shankar Rai was already sitting there. Tiwari exhibited the same over-courteous behaviour of standing up from his chair and welcoming me, a tiny but unyielding cog in the bureaucratic machinery of Delhi, as if I was a VIP. Ramayan Rai, who had been the President of BHU Students' Union and in the revolutionary movement in late 1930s, also got the impression that Tiwari had much regard for me.

How could I explain to them that it was a PR exercise-- greeting with folded hands which kept on moving and promising everyone to help which he did not mean. I was already amused by his method of meeting visitors as CM at Lucknow, perhaps an exaggerated version of his much much senior from the hills whom Raj Narain used to call Baba Bolanda, that is, Pt. GB Pant.

That day in 1976 I was made to wonder if the only place one could find the CM to meet was his washroom. A refined man like Pandit Nehru would never have approved of this method of dealing with the public. On the other hand, I had witnessed the orderly and business like manner in which Dr. Sampurnanand, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai and Jagjiwan Ram handled their visitors.

The last occasion when I met Tiwari was the wedding of the son of his younger brother, Ramesh Chandra Tiwari, at Delhi. Ramesh Tiwari was my contemporary at Lucknow University and was a Professor of Sociology at Kashi Vidyapeeth. He is an extremely sober person and hardly any one knows that he is the younger brother of ND Tiwari.

I am not concerned with Tiwari's role as Chief Minister, Union Minister, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and finally as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh or his personal life. I only wished to record my reminiscences of an old and studious senior friend of mine, and with these words I pay my humble tribute to the departed soul.
 

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