?People?s blessings are with me?
In an interview with AN Jha, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and party nominee from Katihar Lok Sabha constituency, Tariq Anwar, says communalism is like cancer and the NCP along with like-minded parties is fighting against it
For the last few years, you have been quite vocal about your criticism of the Congress, but in this election you are seeking its help. What do you have to say about that?
First and foremost, I did not leave the Congress, the party expelled me. The situation was quite different then. At present, communalism has become a serious threat to our nation. The Vajpayee-led NDA government at the centre is anti-farmer and anti-youth. As such, like-minded parties have forged an alliance to fight communalism, which is eating into society like cancer.
Don’t you think the opposition has no other issue, but communalism?
There are a number of issues against which we have waged a war. However, I must make it clear that our freedom fighters laid down their lives for the foundation of our constitution. Our country is multi-cultural and multi-religious and secularism is part and parcel of democracy. Without secularism, democracy will turn into dictatorship.
What are your chances of winning the election this time?
Hundred per cent. The people are quite annoyed with the outgoing MP, who has not done anything for the constituency. The people’s blessings are with me. I will surely win.
Is Samajwadi Party candidate Mobarak Hussain giving you sleepless nights?
Last time, both the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal supported him. However, this time they are with me. He is a BJP-sponsored candidate and the people are aware of the fact. He is only a ‘votecutwa’ and nothing else. There is no alarm on that count.
Don’t you think you lost the battle to the RJD in Bihar and got only one seat in the entire state?
Our party does not have a strong base in Bihar. As such, one seat is enough. We’ll ensure 100 per cent achievement.
What are the main issues in your election campaign?
Development and removing backwardness from the area.
Who do you think is responsible for Bihar’s plight?
The central government has not been co-operative. After bifurcation of the state, it had promised to give a special package for the development of Bihar, but the promise was never fulfilled.
But, the central government says Bihar has no vision for utilising the funds made available and the amount remains unspent?
No one can stop anybody from saying anything. Only the people of Bihar have first-hand experience of the step-motherly treatment meted out by the centre.
You have been the MP of Katihar for four terms. What did you do to improve the literacy rate, which is extremely poor in the area?
This is not only the case with Katihar, but entire Bihar has a poor literacy rate. Besides, the central school, Navodaya Vidyalaya, Law College and a medical college were started during my tenure. Postgraduate classes were also started in the colleges here during that period.
How would you counter the accusations that you never spared a thought for the ‘rural areas’ of your constituency?
From 1980 to 1990, development fund was allotted. Since 91, no fund has been given to the MPs. Still, I launched a special package for the rural areas.
Don’t you think you did more for the urban rather than rural areas?
I don’t think so. However, due to my efforts a high-power television transmitter was installed. Besides, the roads, railway junction, etc were also upgraded in my constituency.
What vision do you have for the future?
I plan to link each panchayat with block and the blocks with districts. I also want to provide electricity, better education to all, besides primary health centers in the rural area to improve the healthcare system.