PATNA: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) general secretary and Lok Sabha member Tariq Anwar on Friday resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha in protest against NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s apparent defence of PM Narendra Modi in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
“After his (Pawar) clean chit to the prime minister in the Rafale deal, there is no need for me to remain in the party and the Lok Sabha. So I am quitting from the Lok Sabha and also resigning from the party’s primary membership,” said Anwar, who represented Bihar’s Katihar constituency in the parliament’s lower House.
“Prime Minister Modi is fully involved in the Rafale deal, which has been substantiated by the former president of France. The PM has not cared to prove himself clean in the Rafale deal. Despite this, Pawar’s statement in favour of Modi giving him a clean chit over his intention is unfortunate,” added Anwar, a founding member of NCP, who had been considered a close aide of Pawar.
Anwar’s resignation is being seen as a major setback to NCP and a blow to the efforts for an Opposition unity to corner the BJP-led NDA government over the Rafale fighter jet deal. Congress and RJD leaders in Bihar expressed shock about Anwar’s decision but refrained from speaking on the matter for the time being.
Pawar, a former defence minister, had said in an interview to a Marathi news channel on Wednesday that the general public “do not doubt Modi’s intentions” in the Rafale deal. Pawar had also rejected the Opposition’s demand that technical specifications and details of the deal be made public.
“I have great respect for Sharad Pawar, but I cannot betray the common perception over irregularities in the Rafale deal,” said Anwar, a former Union minister, who had recently supported the Congress demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to look into the Rafale deal. He said that BJP, which was in the opposition in the 1980s, had demanded a JPC probe into the Bofors deal and then PM Rajiv Gandhi had agreed to a JPC, which had eventually given him a clean chit. “Why is it a problem for BJP when Congress president Rahul Gandhi demands the same for Rafale?” Anwar had asked.
NCP spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Majeed Memon and party leader Nawab Malik confirmed Anwar’s resignation. Anwar said in Katihar after resigning that he was yet to think of his future political plans. “I will decide on the future course after consulting with my supporters,” he said.