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Former Union minister Tariq Anwar’s elevation in AICC hints at party’s focus on Bihar

Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said that Anwar was a towering face in Bihar politics and the party would benefit from his elevation.

bihar-election Updated: Sep 12, 2020 19:39 IST
Subhash Pathak | Edited by Sparshita Saxena
Subhash Pathak | Edited by Sparshita Saxena
Hindustan Times, Patna
File photo: Tariq Anwar
File photo: Tariq Anwar(Priyanka Parashar/Mint)

The elevation of former Union minister Tariq Anwar in the All India congress committee (AICC) as general secretary and his inclusion in the top policy-making set up seem to have put Bihar on the party’s priority list ahead of the assembly polls.

Anwar is the only face from Bihar to be elevated as the AICC general secretary after a gap of almost five years when Shakeel Ahmad was dropped from the position in 2014. Besides, he has also been included in the topmost policy-making body of the party - Congress working committee (CWC) - comprising of 23 leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.

Former director of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, DK Diwar, said Anwar’s elevation in the Congress’s national body would help the party consolidate its position among the minorities. “Owing to his secular image, Anwar may also be instrumental in reviving the old party’s base among the upper castes and Dalits,” said Diwar adding that it was a strategic move of the Congress to project him as a strong minority face to the Grand Alliance (GA), which is lacking it right now.

Also read: Bihar polls - Nitish, Nadda hold initial talks on seat-sharing, agree on earliest solution

The Congress indents to contest the assembly elections in Bihar, due in October-November, under the Grand Alliance with RJD, left parties, RLSP and VIP as its constituents.

Many senior state Congress leaders believed that aspirations of the state Congress leaders might get attention of the party’s leadership because of Anwar’s position in the AICC. Anwar, too, thanked the AICC leaders for bestowing faith in him and said that he would strive relentlessly for reviving the party’s old glory in Bihar as well as strengthening the organisation in Kerala and Lakshadweep.

In keeping with his experience with the organisation, the party had wished to put Anwar in the forefront in Bihar politics by deciding to nominate him to the state legislative council election. However, owing to some issues, the party made Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) working president Samir Kumar Singh as MLC.

Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said that Anwar was a towering face in Bihar politics and the party would benefit from his elevation. “Anwar has also been a Youth Congress leader and knows the organisation. His role in the run-up to the election would help the organisation salvage its lost glory,” said Mishra.

Anwar, who had served as the AICC general secretary till 1997-98 before opting out and floating the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with Sharad Pawar, is known for the organisation. He won Katihar Lok Sabha constituency on the NPC ticket with support from the RJD and the Congress in 2015. He kept visiting Bihar and stayed in touch with Congress leaders even though he was in the NCP.

Former BPCC president Anil Sharma, however, expressed reservations about Anwar’s ability to catapult the party’s fate in Bihar. “Upper castes hold key to success in the impending assembly elections. Besides Anwar, two minority leaders, Shakeel Ahmad Khan and Jawed, are already in the AICC. Meira Kumar and Ranjeet Ranjan, belonging to scheduled caste and other backward classes, are in the AICC from the state. However, upper-caste leaders have not been accommodated in the AICC from Bihar since long,” said Sharma.

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