New Delhi: Nationalist Congress Party MP Tariq Anwar has resigned from the party, reported ANI on Friday. He has also resigned from the Lok Sabha as well. The decision came in protest over party president Sharad Pawar’s statement defending Prime Minister Modi on the Rafael deal. Later, speaking to ANI, Anwar said, “Our (NCP) national president Sharad Pawar indirectly gave a clean chit to PM, in a statement on Rafale deal. The Prime Minister is completely involved in the deal. The Opposition is demanding constitution of JPC for a probe in it. I’m upset with his statement.”

Anwar, who represents Katihar, Bihar, in the current Lok Sabha MP, is considered a close aide of Pawar. Along with former LS Speaker PA Sangma, Anwar quit the Congress over Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin issue to form the NCP. He is a senior leader who has won from the Katihar seat many times already. His decision would be a big jolt for the party though an official statement is yet to come from him.

Earlier this week, Pawar, while speaking to a Marathi news channel, had said on the Rafale deal, “People do not have doubts over Prime Minister Modi’s intentions”. He had also said that the demand that all of the deal details be shared “didn’t make sense”. The statement was quoted by BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, to highlight Congress’ failure to find support on the issue. However, later NCP issued a statement that Pawar’s opinion need not be construed as his party’s clean chit to the PM. In fact, party spokesperson Nawab Malik reiterated the Congress demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the same.

Even as the Congress is trying to gather support for its demands for a JPC probe in the purchase of the French fighter jets, reportedly support has come openly from the TDP of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.  Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had said that the views expressed by Pawar were his personal. His comments came a few hours after Pawar’s views.  Refusing to comment on Pawar’s statement, Kharge said, “We all know what is in the minds of the people.