Veteran politician Tariq Anwar, who is currently general secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) headed by former Defence Minister Sharad Pawar, has been in politics since his college days.
He started his career in the Indian National Congress. He contested his first Lok Sabha election from Katihar parliamentary constituency on a Congress ticket in 1977 and lost.
But he managed to win the 1980 Lok Sabha Election from Katihar. He was national president of the Indian Youth Congress. In 1989, Anwar was offered the Finance portfolio and the rank of Deputy Chief Minister in the Bihar Cabinet, headed by veteran leader Satyendra Narain Sinha.
Anwar has been member of the Lok Sabha several times and was also an MP representing Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha. Currently he represents Katihar in the Lok Sabha. In an interview to SRI KRISHNA, Anwar spoke on a wide range of issues. Excerpts:
Q: How do you view the political scenario after the vote of no-confidence against the government?
A: In one line I can say the Opposition is more confident. I feel the purpose of the motion was to convey the major issues that the country is suffering from such as mob lynching, unemployment and farmers’ unrest. People appreciated that we got an opportunity to put forward our views on these subjects.
In the last session we were prevented from moving the motion with the government conspiring with various other political parties who were their allies to stop the proceedings. Last time too the Opposition moved the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, but it was not accepted by the government.
This time the government realised that it is difficult to avoid the no-confidence motion because of compulsion. The entire Opposition like its former NDA ally, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which moved the motion and the NDA’s own ally Shiv Sena supported it and so the government was forced to accept the motion for they felt that if it was not accepted, the House cannot run. This enabled the Opposition to project the issues before the nation.
Q: Has the no-confidence motion helped in strengthening Opposition unity in parliament and how do you view it vis-à-vis the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?
A: Of course, there is a dent in the NDA as the TDP has come out of it which is a big setback to the BJP. Also, other key allies of the BJP like the Shiv Sena have not voted against the no-confidence motion. It shows that NDA is already a divided house. You can say that out of this division, the Opposition will be benefitted in the long run.
Q: What is your view on the Opposition projecting someone as the prime ministerial candidate like the Congress trying to project Rahul Gandhi. Would this create a dent in Opposition unity?
A: I think this is not the time and Congress has also clarified it. In 2004 the UPA had not projected anyone as the prime ministerial candidate. After the election, the UPA decided that since Congress is the largest party, so the chance should be given to it for the prime ministerial post.
The Congress decided to make Dr Manmohan Singh the PM. So, this is not the time. We should try for a strong Opposition and adjust all Opposition parties in the states. In the long run, I feel that after the election everything would be settled. We have the example of 2004.
Q: How do you view the prevailing scenario in Bihar and the impact on 2019?
A: In Bihar the parties of the Mahagatbandhan ~ RJD, Congress and NCP ~ are very much united. Now the former Bihar Chief Minister Jiten Manjhi, who is also a Dalit leader in the state, has joined the Mahagatbandhan and so in the coming Lok Sabha elections, it is a fairly comfortable position.
Q: What are the major issues that you foresee would be in the forefront of the 2019 polls?
A: The BJP has not fulfilled a single commitment given by it in the 2014 election campaign. There are numerous issues like employment, black money, farmers’ unrest.
People have been very unhappy with the NDA government because after demonetisation, the employment scene worsened. Many small and medium industries have closed down.
With so much growing unemployment and unrest among the youth and farmers, I think it would be very difficult for the NDA government to satisfy all sections of the community. I think in the coming elections, it is going to be very difficult for this government to explain to the people about their performance.
Q: Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that government is proposing to bring a law to stop lynching and a Group of Ministers has been set up. How serious do you think the government is on this issue?
A: They are not serious. The way the Home Minister was speaking in Parliament on this subject and he was giving the example of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. I don’t know why he is comparing the 1984 riots to lynching.
This lynching started in 2015 when the first incident took place. But the government has not taken any action on this issue. Ultimately it is after the intervention and direction of the Supreme Court that the government is saying that they are going to make a law against lynching
. I don’t think the government appears serious about stopping it since they are praising those involved in lynching and also garlanding them. So, directly or indirectly they are supporting lynching.
One can say that this government wants to polarise the electorate because on their performance, they are not going to come back. So better to polarise the electorate and mob lynching is one of the instruments that they would be using to do it.
Q: What is your view on the government’s handling of foreign policy and economic matters?
A: The Prime Minister is visiting foreign countries frequently and one can only say that he is trying to create a record of the number of countries that he has visited. After his visit to these countries, the country is not getting anything special from those nations.
On foreign policy one can say that we have not had very good relations with neighbouring countries, Nepal, China, Pakistan or any other neighbouring nation and even Maldives. Our foreign policy is not clear.
Q: Rahul Gandhi’s hugging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha has become such a big issue.
A: I think Rahul Gandhi made a good gesture because our prime minister is also doing the same thing with foreign dignitaries. When he was speaking on the no-confidence motion, Rahul Gandhi was saying that the country cannot run on hate and dislike.
I think when Rahul Gandhi hugged the PM in the House, even the prime minister appeared confused “kya ho gaya.” Rahul Gandhi has shown the guts that he can hug his main opponent.