Among the new entrants into Kalyan Singh's jumbo Ministry in Uttar Pradesh, the one whose name has evoked the most controversy is Harishankar Tiwari, the Loktantrik Congress MLA from Chillupar in Gorakhpur district. Tiwari, a history-sheeter as per Record No. 38A of the Gorakhpur Police and faces charges in 27 criminal cases, including nine cases of murder and 10 cases of attempt to murder, has been given the Science and Technology portfolio. In an interview with Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, the controversial Minister responded to the allegations against him and detailed his plans for the Ministry. Excerpts:
Your entry into the Ministry has been the subject of controversy. How do you respond?
I am not bothered. I know that this is the ballyhoo of frustrated political opponents who are envious of my political growth. They are unhappy that I am working for the welfare of the people. They feel that only they can rule. I am trying to develop Poorvanchal (eastern U.P.) to the best of my ability. They cannot stand this and call me a criminal. All that they are saying is untrue.
But the allegations against you are well-documented.
There are no cases against me. Whatever there were have been either withdrawn or dismissed by the court.
But your name figures in history sheet No. 38 A in Gorakhpur.
All that is untrue. Motivated people can cook up charges. Even you can be made to look like a criminal by manipulating police records. I have been a victim of political conspiracy and sections of the media publish everything against me without verifying facts.
So are you planning to take legal action against this section of the media?
Why should I? I am not bothered by these small things. God sees everything. They will get their retribution as and when the time comes. My only aim in life is to serve the people of Uttar Pradesh.
Now that you are a Minister, how do you propose to do it?
As Minister for Science and Technology, I will strive to use resources for the benefit of the rural masses and for the protection of the environment.Have you thought of some concrete programmes?
I have just taken over the Ministry. But I have some things in mind. One major problem of the people is unemployment. The rural people also do not know how to use modern technology to better their lives. I have decided to order a survey of places where water is available in plenty. Once this is done, my department will undertake a massive programme for fish-rearing in these areas. Transporting agricultural products is another problem faced by farmers. Researchers will be asked to find ways and means to modernise vehicles of transport like the bullock cart. Electronics knowhow available with the State and Central Governments will be used to bring telephones to all villages. Traditional medicine also has a place in my scheme of things. The medicinal properties of plants such as neem should be tapped by using modern technology for the benefit of the people and for commercial propagation. I would like to concentrate on dairy products too. There are cows in Israel which give 70 litres of milk a day. Researchers will be asked to find out how our cows can be developed like that. My vision of a prosperous country is one where milk and honey flow. With programmes like these we can realise that dream.