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Tariq Anwar back in Congress after 19 years, 2 TRS leaders too join

Tariq Anwar met Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Saturday.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2018 22:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tariq Anwar,Congress,Rahul Gandhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi welcomes former NCP leader Tariq Anwar back into the party fold. (PTI)

Over 19 years after being expelled from the Congress for opposing Sonia Gandhi’s projection as the party’s prime ministerial candidate in 1999 ostensibly on the ground of her foreign origin, Tariq Anwar was taken back into the grand old party on Saturday.

Congress president and Sonia Gandhi’s son Rahul Gandhi welcomed Anwar, a five-time Lok Sabha member and two-term Rajya Sabha MP, back into the party fold.

The Congress also got a shot in the arm in Telangana when two ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leaders — former legislator T Narsa Reddy and member of legislative council (MLC) S Ramulu Naik — joined the party on Saturday.

TRS Rajya Sabha member D Srinivas too met Gandhi and expressed his willingness to join the Congress.

Nearly a month ago on September 28, Anwar had resigned from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over his party chief Sharad Pawar’s reported clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal.

Pawar, however, later denied the remarks and reiterated his demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the fighter jet deal.

It was in 1999 that Anwar along with Pawar and PA Sangma founded the NCP after they were expelled from the Congress a year after Sonia Gandhi was elected as the Congress president on March 14, 1998.

Their opposition to a move to project her as the PM candidate prompted her to resign from the post on May 15, 1999, just before the Lok Sabha elections.

In her resignation letter to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), she wrote: “Although born in a foreign land, I chose India as my country and would remain an Indian till my last breath. India is my motherland, dearer to me than my own life.”

The resignation prompted hunger-strikes and agitation from Congress workers and she agreed to take back her resignation after the party expelled Pawar, Sangma and Anwar on May 20, 1999. The CWC was informed of her decision on May 24, 1999. The next day, a special session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) was called to welcome her back as the party president.

Anwar, who had also resigned as the Lok Sabha member from Katihar (Bihar) last month, held the post of general secretary in the NCP.

After joining the Congress in 1972, Anwar held several organisational posts, including acting party president in Bihar, Youth Congress chief, CWC member, Seva Dal head and political secretary to the then party chief Sitaram Kesri.

Congress leaders familiar with the development said Srinivas did not join the party as the move would have resulted in his disqualification from the Rajya Sabha.

“I discussed many things with him (Rahul Gandhi),” he said, without elaborating whether he had joined the Congress or not.

The Congress leadership is also trying to woo prominent Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader and former legislator R Krishnaiah into the party.

TRS’ official spokesperson Palla Rajeshwar Reddy said the party had in fact sacked the rebel leaders over “anti-party activities”. “They were in fact a burden for the TRS and we got rid of the burden. Their joining the Congress hardly makes any difference to the TRS,” Reddy said.

First Published: Oct 27, 2018 11:15 IST