NCP Leader Tariq Anwar Favours Sonia Gandhi's Continuation As Congress Chief

NCP Leader Tariq Anwar Favours Sonia Gandhi's Continuation As Congress Chief

NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar pitched for Sonia Gandhi's continuance as Congress chief. (File photo)

New Delhi:  Amid reports of likely elevation of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader today pitched for Sonia Gandhi's continuance as party chief so she could work for reviving the fortunes of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to take on the "communal" Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"If Soniaji gives up her party's leadership, then it will send a wrong signal to the ruling party giving them sense that their pressure tactic is working. Also, such a move will demoralise Congress workers. So, she should continue to be in that slot," NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar told reporters.

Mr Anwar said though none of the UPA constituent has deserted the alliance, its leaders have not met over the past two years since the NDA came to power and insisted that Ms Gandhi should take the initiative to revive it to halt BJP's "communal" juggernaut.

"Soniaji had reached out to top leaders of other parties in 2004 when the UPA-I was formed. Congress, being the largest opposition party, should again take the initiative to revive UPA," he added.

The NCP leader noted no "anti-BJP" Front can be formed sans Congress at the national-level.

Mr Anwar also sought to deflate BJP's claims that the mandate the party received in Assam was reflection of public acceptance of its policies and ideology, saying the NDA major's victory was merely "strategic" as Congress did not take along any other secular party during the polls.

Mr Anwar slammed the Narendra Modi government, saying it has failed to do "anything concrete" on the issue of black money.

Assailing BJP over its claim India is becoming "Congress-free implying Opposition-free," he reminded the party how the Congress had bounced back after setbacks in 1968, 1977, 1989 and 1999 general polls.

"There is always a phase a when the credibility of a party is at stake among public. During those years, people would feel that Congress was wiped out. But it came back.

"So, what has happened to Congress now is not permanent. Only thing is it needs to be aggressive and connect with people," Mr Anwar, a former Congress leader, added.

Mr Anwar backed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's call for an "RSS-free" India and urged all secular parties to join hands ahead of forthcoming Uttar Pradesh and Punjab Assembly polls.

Mr Anwar, however, dodged a question about whether Mr Kumar should be projected as the prime ministerial candidate of opposition, saying "it is too early to comment on that".

Hitting out at the BJP over the issue of "atmosphere of intolerance", Mr Anwar said the party "will be at it again" ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections to polarise voters communally and asked the state government there to remain "alert" to avoid any "Muzaffarnagar-like" (2014 riot) episode.

"...again BJP is playing a communal card. So, all the secular parties need to come together again," he said, adding his party is for a 'Grand Alliance' of "secular" opposition parties for the election in the northern state.

He also attacked the Modi government on the Jan Dhan Scheme.

"Some 30 per cent of the accounts opened under the Jan Dhan Yojana have not a single rupee deposited in them. They do not have new policy and also rehashing old policies of UPA. Now, they are saying two years are not adequate to set things right, but people are not impressed," he said.

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