HARIDWAR: Ravindra Singh, who works at a parking lot near the iconic Ramjhula in the Tehri-Garhwal district, said he felt heartbroken the day he learned of the demise of Uttarakhand former chief minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari.
Singh, in his late 40s, points to the granite plaque that was unveiled by Tiwari in his capacity as the chief minister in 2005, at the inauguration of the upper storey of the parking lot that faces the Sivananda Ashram at scenic Muni ki Reti, about 3 km from the holy town of Rishikesh.
"I was present at the ceremony when Tiwari ji had come to inaugurate the facility. He contributed a lot to the development of our state. He was was a 'Vikas Purush' (man for development)," he told PTI on Sunday.
Singh said he read about Tiwari's death the next day through the newspapers.
"I didn't watch the TV on Thursday, and the news on Friday came as a shock. He was very dear to the people of Uttarakhand."
A Congress veteran, Tiwari who served in various positions at the Centre and in states and was even a strong contender for prime ministership in 1991, died at a private hospital in Delhi on Thursday after prolonged illness.
Born on October 18, 1925 in Nainital, he had served as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh multiple times, and was the first chief minister of the new hill state that was carved out of UP in 2001.
He had the unique distinction of having served as the chief minister of two states, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where his native place is located.
In Haridwar, local resident Anil Thapliyal said, Tiwari is still remembered by people of the state for "steering the growth story" of Uttarakhand.
"While taking a holy dip in the Ganga at Har ki Pauri Ghat, I also prayed for the repose of his soul," he said.
Tiwari was cremated with full state honours Sunday at the Chitrashila Ghat in Nainital district.
As the mortal remains of Tiwari were consigned to flames, ordinary people of the hill state, including in capital Dehradun, recalled the former chief minister's contribution to the state.
Umesh Negi, a front desk staff at a hotel in Dehradun, said, "Tiwari ji was respected by both senior political leaders and the common man. It is sad he left us, but he did a lot for Uttarakhand as a CM."
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had paid tributes to Tiwari, hours after his death at Max Hospital in south Delhi, where he was admitted September last year after he had suffered a brain stroke.
"Uttarakhand will never forget the contribution of Tiwari ji, he played an instrumental role in making the new state stand on its feet through economic and industrial development," he had tweeted on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of various parties had also expressed grief over the death of the veteran politician.
"Saddened by the passing away of Shri ND Tiwari Ji. A towering leader, he was known for his administrative skills. He will be remembered for his efforts towards industrial growth & working for the progress of UP and Uttarakhand, a state he steered in its initial days," the Prime Minister had tweeted.
Tiwari, who was undergoing treatment at Max Super Speciality Hospital, breathed his last at 2.50 pm on Thursday after he suffered a heart attack, hours after he had turned 93.
The body of Tiwari was first sent from Delhi to Lucknow where people paid their respects.
It was then brought to Pantnagar in Uttarakhand on Saturday in an air ambulance from Lucknow.
From there, it was taken via road to the Kathgodam Guest House for people to pay their respects.