In a curious political development, senior NCP leader Tariq Anwar resigned from the party and also from the Lok Sabha to express his annoyance over his party chief Sharad Pawar’s move to defend the Prime Minister in the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal. Anwar who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Katihar seat was the founding member of the party which came into being in 1999.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is completely involved in the deal which has been substantiated by the statement of former president of France but the former has failed to prove his innocence in the matter. In such a situation defending the Prime Minister by party chief Pawar is really unfortunate,” Anwar told a Press conference at Katihar today. He added he was indeed hurt by the statement of his party chief although he personally respected him.

“No decision has been taken so far about my future political move. I will be deciding that after consulting my supporters,” he said.

The party later came out with a clarification, saying it did not amount to a clean chit to the prime minister.

At the Press meet, he announced to resign from both the party and as Lok Sabha member. Anwar, a former union minister, has been in favour of a JPC probe into the deal, a demand the Congress has raised, and has also sought a white paper on the issue.

Anwar, along with Sharad Pawar and PA Sangma, had in 1999 broken away from the Congress to protest against the anointment of a ‘foreign origin person’ – Sonia Gandhi as the party president and floated NCP. With Sangma not more and Anwar quitting the party, the NCP really looks in deep trouble now.

The Congress lauded the move of Anwar who for long was associated with the Grand Old party before joining the NCP. “He is a fine leader and we are eagerly waiting for his next political,” party spokesperson Premchandra Mishra said. The remark amply indicates Anwar is headed for the Congress although he has kept his card close to his chest.

In New Delhi, senior party leader and Rajya Sabha MP D P Tripathi confirmed the development.

A former president of Congress’ Bihar unit, Anwar formed the NCP in the 1990s along with Pawar and the late P A Sangma, opposing Sonia Gandhi taking over as AICC president on grounds of her foreign origin. The party thereafter allied with the Congress at the national level and also in Maharashtra.