By Tenzin Lekshay
The morning seemed bright with sunshine, despite the unpredictable weather that constantly irk us with thunder light and shower amidst the best season of Dharamshala. Even though today’s weather seemed perfect, the news of the sudden and sad demise of Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari ji cast down a thick cloud of sadness.
A day before he took a solemn oath as a member of Indian Parliament along with 50 odd legislators. We were overjoyed with his new responsibility, but it remained short-lived as he left this earthly world due to a severe heart attack. We are inconsolably sad as he departed us physically, when we needed him the most. But his contribution will remain immortal in the struggle for Tibetan freedom. He shall be remembered for his meritorious and unconditional support for Tibet till his last breath. Tibetans and Tibetan supporters all over the world will dearly miss him and shall pray for his swift rebirth.
While working as the coordinator of India-Tibet Coordination Office in New Delhi from 2008 to 2011, I had the privilege of meeting Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari ji on numerous occasions, both at his residence and at public gatherings. I first met him in 2008, when Tibet was burning with massive uprisings in the run up to Beijing Olympic games. Simultaneous programs and activities were held all over the world, especially in Delhi to highlight our cause. During those days we engaged ourselves with Indian politicians, social workers, intellectuals and masses. Among them Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari was on top of our list, whether it was to address demonstrations at the Jantar Mantar or to participate in a seminar at India International Centre, New Delhi. He was also kind enough to attend strategy-meetings like the World Parliamentarian Convention on Tibet (WPCT) and symbolic programs such as the inaugural ceremony of Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay held at Dharamshala on 8 August 2011.
Shri Brij Bhushan ji was a senior Samajwadi party member, an eminent socialist leader who had been a longstanding crusader and disciple of Shri Ram Manohar Lohia. The latter stood firm in defending our cause in 1959, condemning China invasion of Tibet as ‘baby murder’.
Among the Indian parliamentarians, Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari ji was one of the core members of All Party Indian Parliamentarian Forum for Tibet established in 1994. He was the National Vice-President of Indo-Tibetan Friendship Society (ITFS), one of the largest Indian Support Groups for Tibet. He attended many of the support group meetings and conferences, both at the national and international levels.
He was critical of Indian government’s position on Tibet and stressed the importance of having “an independent or autonomous Tibet,” which he felt was in India’s interest. On many occasions, he raised the issue of Tibet in the Indian parliament.
He attended the third and the fifth WPCT held in Washington D.C. and Rome in 1997 and 2009 respectively. He was scheduled to leave India to participate in the upcoming sixth World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet slated to convene in Ottawa, Canada from 27-29 April. To our disbelief and sadness, he left us leaving behind his legacy of love and concern for Tibet, which was real and inspiring.
Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari, 72, was born in Siddhartha Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh in October 1941. He was first elected as a member of parliament in 1977 and remained so for two more terms. In December 2006, he represented Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha and was nominated again last month.
Central Tibetan Administration today conveyed its deep condolences to the bereaved family members of Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari ji and called him a time-tested friend of Tibet and Tibetan people. I express my sadness and respect with these last words:
Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari Amar Rahe!
The writer works at Kashag Secretariat, Central Tibetan Administration.
(The views expressed here are that of the author and shall not be regarded as views and policies of Central Tibetan Administration.)