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Another Senior NCP Leader Quits Over Pawar's 'Defence' of Modi as Party Struggles to Contain Damage

Party general secretary Munaf Hakim said it was 'difficult' to defend its image after Sharad Pawar supported Modi on the Rafale deal and claimed that more leaders would follow suit.


Updated:September 29, 2018, 12:00 AM IST
Another Senior NCP Leader Quits Over Pawar's 'Defence' of Modi as Party Struggles to Contain Damage
File photo of NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Reuters)

Mumbai: Sharad Pawar’s “support” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale row has cost the party another member after Lok Sabha MP Tariq Anwar.

On Friday, party general secretary Munaf Hakim said he had quit the primary membership of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), claiming it was “difficult” to defend its image after Pawar stood up for Modi.

Hakim, a former chairman of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, also said more NCP workers might follow suit. "Sharad Pawar has never supported fundamental forces. How can he say Narendra Modi is not guilty in the Rafale case in the minds of the public? A JPC probe has not yet been set up," he said.

Referring to Anwar, Hakim said, "Tariq Anwar is one of the founder members of the party. He was not consulted while making an important stand of the party public (on Rafale). In such a case, it is difficult to defend the party's image after Pawar saheb supported Modi in the Rafale case."

Speaking to a TV channel on Wednesday, Pawar had said, "I don't think people have doubts about Modi's intentions personally." A former defence minister, Pawar also said the Opposition's demand to share technical details related to the fighter jets "made no sense". He, however, said there was no harm for the government to disclose prices of the aircraft.

The senior leader’s remarks led to a political furore as BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Pawar and asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to believe his own ally who has put "national interests above party politics".

Seeking to control the damage, the NCP said Pawar had not given any clean chit to Modi. Spokesperson Nawab Malik reiterated the party’s demands that the Centre disclose the price of the fighter jets and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe the matter.

On Friday, NCP’s Supriya Sule also came to Pawar’s defence, saying it was “disappointing that people have not heard him raise three questions”.

NCP leader Praful Patel also said party president Sharad Pawar has not given a "clean chit to anybody".

"Pawar saheb has not given a clean chit to anybody. The NCP insists on a JPC probe in Rafale deal and demands that the price of the fighter jet be made public," Patel told mediapersons.

About the implications of resignationd from the NCP, he said, "The party doesn't get impacted just because somebody joins it or leaves it."

"It is sad to note that after working with us for so many years, he (Tariq Anwar) decided to quit without even informing us. It is very surprising because he has based his decision on an interview by Pawar to a news channel," Patel said.

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