The fall and rise of Tariq Anwar

One year before he, along with Sharad Pawar and P A Sangma, raised a bogey of revolt against Sonia Gandhi in 1999 on the foreign origin issue, Tariq Anwar, then a Lok Sabha member from Katihar in Bihar, was the second most powerful person at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi.

He was political secretary to the then Congress president Sitaram Kesri in 1998, a post now held by the all-powerful Ahmed Patel.

Even when Sonia Gandhi took over as AICC president, she appointed Tariq, a Rajiv Gandhi protégé, as the Congress general secretary. But the man, who was once the president of All India Youth Congress (in 1982), committed a political hara-kiri when he revolted against Sonia and left his parent party to become a founder member of Pawar’s NCP.

As a consequence, after four decades in active politics, Tariq Anwar, one of the most senior ex-Congressman, on Sunday made his debut in the Union Council of Ministers but only as a Minister of State (Agriculture) where he will play second fiddle to his party chief Sharad Pawar.

The four-time Lok Sabha member from Bihar had won in 1980, 1984, 1996 and 1998, but lost all subsequent parliamentary elections once he left the Congress to join NCP in 1999. After remaining in political wilderness for few years, Pawar eventually rehabilitated him in Rajya Sabha in 2004 from Maharashtra. At present, Tariq is enjoying his second stint in the Upper House, again from Maharashtra and courtesy: Pawar.

This was NCP president’s way to reward a person who stood by him through thick and thin. But eyebrows were raised when a leader, who was once the chairman of All India Congress Seva Dal, chief of AICC Minority Cell and president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) besides serving as political secretary to AICC president, was ‘accommodated’ in the Union Council of Ministers as merely an MoS and as a replacement of a much-junior Agatha Sangma.

But then, this is the price Tariq Anwar today had to pay for dumping the parent party and crossing the fence for ‘greener pastures’. After all, Congress sources say, Sonia never forgets and forgives so easily.

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