Katihar (Bihar), Sep 28 (IANS) In a jolt to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), one of its founding leaders, Tariq Anwar, on Friday quit the party and the Lok Sabha expressing disagreement with party chief Sharad Pawar who he said gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal.
“I have resigned from the NCP as well as the membership of Lok Sabha because I totally disagree with Sharad Pawar’s statement in support of Modi on Rafale deal,” he told the media here.
“The Prime Minister is fully involved in the Rafale deal,” said Anwar, a party General Secretary, reacting to Pawar’s television interview in which he said he did not think people doubt Modi’s intentions on a personal level.
Jolted by his move, the party said the decision was “unfortunate” while Pawar’s daughter and party MP Supriya Sule said the NCP chief’s comments on the Prime Minister and the Rafale deal have been misunderstood as he has actually demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal.
Anwar, 67, who was expelled from the Congress in 1999 along with Pawar and P.A. Sangma after they questioned the foreign origins of Sonia Gandhi, said he personally respected and honoured Pawar but felt his statement in support of Modi was unfortunate.
“I do not agree with his statement and have resigned from the party and membership of Parliament,” the MP from Katihar said.
Anwar told IANS that he was forced to take this decision to prove his moral stand in politics. “I am telling people one thing and cannot take another stand,” he said.
Anwar’s resignation brings down the NCP’s strength in the Lok Sabha to six.
Anwar, who has been a Lok Sabha member several times and in the Rajya Sabha once, said he will talk to his supporters before taking a move to join any party.
Reacting to his resignation, NCP General Secretary Praful Patel said Anwar’s decision was sudden and unfortunate and felt it was not correct on his part to have exited in this manner without any discussion with the leadership.
He said he has noted that Anwar was angry over some remarks made by Pawar on the Rafale deal.
“We are surprised but sad at the same time. We want to clarify that Anwar who was with the part since its birth and was a founder… you have left suddenly and in this fashion without any discussion with the leadership, it is not correct,” he said.
Pawar’s statement in an interview to a television channel was welcomed by BJP chief Amit Shah who praised him for “placing national interests above party politics”.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Sule said it was “disappointing” that the issues raised by Pawar in the interview regarding the Rafale fighter jet deal were ignored.
“It’s disappointing that people have not heard Pawar … where he has clearly raised three questions: 1) what is the justification for a 300 percent price increase from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,670 crore which potentially could be a significant loss to the exchequer?,” said Sule, a Lok Sabha member and a daughter of Pawar.
“2) If such doubts have been raised and the government is so confident, then why are they shying from setting up a JPC? 3) When the BJP raised both price and specification issues during the Bofors allegations, then why are they hiding behind artificial justification of secrecy of agreements vis-a-vis both commercial price and offset agreements.”