Hari Shankar Tiwari was an Indian gangster turned politician and social activist who served six terms as a Member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and was the cabinet minister in the Uttar Pradesh government under five different Chief Ministers. He had a political career of more than 5 decades and worked with different popular politicians including Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Mulayam Singh Yadav. He is known as a politician who had a strong base in the Brahmin community of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, particularly Gorakhpur.
Hari Shankar Tiwari was born in Tanda village in Chillupar, Gorakhpur district, Uttar Pradesh, India (then – United Province, British India). As per one source, he was born on Saturday, 5 August 1933 (age 89 years; at the time of death), and as per another source, he was born on Monday, 5 August 1935 (age 87 years; at the time of death). His zodiac sign was Leo. He completed his schooling at the local village school. He later pursued a Master of Arts at Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur till 1961. He later ventured into the field of politics. In 1984, he registered for a PhD in Sociology; however, he never completed it.
Height (approx.): 5′ 9″
Weight (approx.): 70 kg
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
He was born into a Hindu Brahmin family.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name was Bhola Nath who was a priest in his village. He had 2 younger brothers named Shiv Shankar Tiwari, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 83 years, and Kishan Shankar Tiwari.
Wife & Children
His wife’s name was Ramlali Devi. He has two sons named Bheeshma Shankar Tiwari alias Kushal Tiwari, and Vinay Shankar Tiwari, and a daughter. Both of his sons are politicians and have served as MP and MLA.
His daughter-in-law’s (Vinay Shankar Tiwari’s wife) name is Rita Tiwari. He has a nephew named Ganesh Shankar Pandey who is also a politician.
Early Days into Politics
Hari Shankar Tiwari was active in student politics at Gorakhpur University. On 30 August 1979, when Kauriram MLA from Janta Party, Ravindra Singh was murdered, Hari Shankar Tiwari’s name was registered in the FIR. His group later started competing for Railway scrap contracts and made money and bought guns with them.
He later had a competition with Virendra Pratap Shahi, a Rajput, for control over Gorakhpur. It is also alleged that Surti Narayan Mani Tripathi, also known as SNM Tripathi or Pandit Tripathi, wanted to lessen the dominance of Gorakhnath Math and helped Tiwari to open a Hata (courtyard) at his home and help the local people as Math used to do.
This led to an enmity between Gorakhnath Math and Tiwari, which continued for his whole life. When Yogi Adityanath became the head of Gorakhnath Math, he became the leader of Rajputs, whereas Tiwari went on to become the leader of Brahmins.
Rise as the local leader
In 1985, while still in jail, he contested elections from the Chillupar constituency as an independent candidate and defeated Congress’s Markendayanand by 21,728 votes. It was the first time in India’s history that a candidate won an election in that style.
It is widely believed that Hari Shankar Tiwari gave political protection to many gangsters including Shri Prakash Shukla and Amarmani Tripathi. Shri Prakash Shukla murdered Hari Shankar’s main political rival, Virendra Pratap Shahi, in 1997 in Lucknow.
Allegiance to different parties
While Hari Shankar won his first elections as an independent candidate, he joined Indian National Congress and developed a very close friendship with the Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi.
He later broke away from Congress and joined the All India Indira Congress (Tiwari), led by N. D. Tiwari. He later formed his own political party in October 1997 with Jagdambika Pal, Rajeev Shukla, Shyam Sunder Sharma, and Bacha Pathak and named it Akhil Bharatiya Loktantrik Congress.
He became Transport Minister in the 1997-1999 Kalyan Singh government (BJP).
He became the Stamp and Registration cabinet minister in Ram Prakash Gupta’s Uttar Pradesh government (BJP) in 2000.
He became the Science and Technology Minister in Rajnath Singh‘s BJP Uttar Pradesh cabinet in 2001. He also served as a cabinet minister in Mayawati‘s BSP government in 2002 and Mulayam Singh Yadav‘s SP government in 2003. He won the legislative elections six consecutive times from 1985 to 2007.
His political downfall started in 2007 when he lost the legislative election for the Chillupar seat in the 2007 elections to Rajesh Tripathi. He again lost the seat to him in the 2012 legislative elections. He retired from active politics after the defeat and never contested elections again; however, he continued wielding his influence in the area.
Allegedly, Hari Shankar Tiwari used to support local goons and gangsters and used them to take his revenge on different people. There were more than 35 cases registered against him for murder and hooliganism under anti-terror law, the national security law, and the Gangster (Prevention) Act; however, he was never convicted in any case.
Protest against Yogi Adityanath
In April 2017, when Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a police team raided his house to look for a robbery suspect. The police team did not have any court order to raid his house. It was the first time that police had entered his house. His supporters protested against the local administration on the streets of Gorakhpur. Tiwari himself said that Yogi was trying to harass him due to his old enmity.
At 7:30 pm on 16 May 2023, he felt uneasy and passed away at his residence in the Dharamshala area of Gorakhpur. He was suffering from kidney and heart problems for the last 2-3 years. As per one source, he died at the age of 87 years, and as per another source, he passed away at the age of 89 years. His body was taken to Tanda, his ancestral village, where his followers paid their last obeisance to him. After his death, many people including former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh,
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