In what is being dubbed a major jolt to the ruling Congress before the assembly polls, a highly influential political family closely related to Chief Minister N.D. Tewari joined BJP at a function in Haldwani on January 29. Shri Rajesh Balutia and his wife Gita joined the BJP in the presence of state BJP president Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Rajesh is the son of Tewari'smaternal cousin, the late Netra Ballabh Balutia. Rajesh also happens to be the brother of Deepak Balutia, the president of Congress party'sdistrict youth wing. He is also the brother-in-law of Nav Prabhat, the Minister for Forest, who is also Tewari'sson-in-law.
Shri Tewari belongs to Padampuri, a remote village in Dhari block of Nainital district. The late Netra Ballabh Balutia, however, belonged to Baluti, a village adjacent to Padampuri. And the grapevine has it that Tewari was born in Netra Ballabh Balutia'shome. However, most of the members of the Balutia clan have now settled in Haldwani, which falls in the assembly constituency of the same name. And the Balutias reportedly wield a lot of political clout in that region.
The Congress has sought to underplay the whole issue of Tewari'stwo close relatives joining BJP. ?They may be closely related to Shri Tewari but their joining the BJP is not going to affect our party in any manner,? claimed Dr Ramesh Pande, a senior Congress leader.
State BJP leaders, on the other hand, claim that the Balutias are highly influential in politics because they have a lot of following among the people of their own region, especially in Haldwani.