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NCP commitment to Telangana is ideological: Tariq Anwar

NCP commitment to Telangana is ideological: Tariq Anwar
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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) General Secretary and Union Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar declared that his party stands for smaller...

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) General Secretary and Union Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar declared that his party stands for smaller States. Since it is part of its party ideology, it has no problem in backing any such demands to the hilt, including the demand for statehood for Telangana. Claiming that the UPA arrangement is confined to the Centre and the Congress-NCP coalition in Maharashtra being state-specific, he insisted that the NCP reserved the right to look for new Allies. While insisting that no formal talks have taken place with YSRCP of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, Tariq Anwar said the party is open to alliance with any secular party. "NCP president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar supported the demand for creation of Telangana.
Pawar's support to Telangana stems from NCP Constitution, which favours formation of smaller States. So, Pawar's support to Telangana is more ideological, as that is the party ideology. The NCP believes ideologically that smaller states are better, in terms of development and in managing the states. Large states are often unwieldy and unmanageable, as can be seen from the example of Uttar Pradesh. The NCP is not averse to reorganisation of large States," Tariq Anwar, in an exclusive interview to The Hans India, told Venkat Parsa.
The NCP has supported Telangana statehood demand. Is the party committed to it?
NCP president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar supported the demand for creation of Telangana. Pawar's support to Telangana stems from NCP Constitution, which favours formation of smaller states. So, Pawar's support to Telangana is more ideological, as that is the party ideology. The NCP believes ideologically that smaller states are better, in terms of development and in managing the states. Large states are often unwieldy and unmanageable, as can be seen from the example of Uttar Pradesh. The NCP is not averse to reorganisation of large states.
Why was Telangana chosen by the NCP for support?
Telangana is among the oldest demands. It has been alive and kicking since the day when the integrated Andhra Pradesh was formed on November 1, 1956. Demand for Telangana has found manifestation in some form or the other, eversince. I remember, there was a violent agitation that rocked the state in 1969. For the past decade, it has witnessed a peaceful and non-violent movement. There is no reason, why such a valid and such a popular demand should be ignored. It was a conscious decision of the NCP to support the statehood demand for Telangana.
Will it not lead to similar demands, say the Vidarbha demand in Maharashtra?
People of Vidarbha are not for separate statehood demand. Unlike in Telangana, there has been no movement for separate Vidarbha. If people in Vidarbha want separate statehood, the NCP will fully support it. As a principle, the party stands for smaller states and as such the party will have no problem in supporting such a demand.
Is the NCP looking for new Allies in states like Andhra Pradesh, where there are parties like the YSRCP of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy?
No formal talks have taken place so far. In fact, there is no problem for NCP seeking Allies in the states. The UPA is an arrangement only at the Centre. In Maharashtra, the Congress-NCP coalition government has been formed, but is state-specific. Elsewhere there is no bar on NCP in seeking Allies. The NCP is a secular party and the only necessary precondition is that any alliance can be forged only with another secular party.
Is the Congress-NCP alliance facing any problems in Maharashtra?
The Congress-NCP alliance has been formed. A coalition government is being run in Maharashtra. In any such arrangement, there are bound to be issues. In fact, there are no major differences between the two parties. Besides, there is Congress-NCP Coordination Committee, which meets whenever required to sort out any outstanding issues. The Congress-NCP alliance is very important. If that alliance breaks down in Maharashtra, it will directly benefit communal forces like the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the state. We certainly want this alliance to continue in Maharashtra.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has repeatedly claimed he will not contest the 2014. Will the party try to persuade him to change his mind?
Tremendous pressure is mounting within the NCP that Sharad Pawar should contest the polls in 2014. Pawar's contention is that he has been in the Legislature and Parliament for 40 years. Now he wants to devote more time to build up the NCP. One major reason cited by Pawar is that he wants to devote more time to build up the party organisation. But the entire party wants Pawar to reconsider his stand and contest the polls in 2014, as he has a great future and he should continue to provide his guidance and leadership to the party. The entire party is convinced that Pawar should contest and continue to lead the NCP.
Has the agriculture sector improved in the country under the UPA dispensation?
All along, the goal for the agriculture sector has been 4 per cent growth rate. During the 11th Plan period itself, India reached 3.7 per cent growth rate. In the 12th Plan period, we are confident that the agriculture sector will attain the targeted 4 per cent growth rate. The minimum support price (MSP) has been doubled over the Vajpayee Government. At that time, farmers suicides peaked like never before, which reflected the rural distress. Responding to the alarming situation, the UPA government took the decision of loan-waiver to the tune of Rs 67,000 crore. Previously, bank loans were available for as high as 14 to 16 per cent interest. The UPA Government took the decision on bank loans at 4 to 6 per cent interest. If the farmer repays loan within one year, then only 4 per cent interest is charged. This has considerably alleviated the difficulties of the farmer.
Agriculture is considered to be becoming non-viable. What steps are you taking it to arrest the trend?
It is true that agriculture is dependent on the vagaries of nature. Whether drought or flood, a farmer is adversely affected. It is becoming increasingly non-viable and over-dependence on agriculture alone has indeed become dangerous. To help improve the situation, it has been decided to help the farmer acquire an alternative source of income. Fisheries, sheep-rearing, animal husbandry and horticulture are among the professions that the farmers are being encouraged to adopt. This would provide an alternative source of income for the farmer, enabling him to withstand losses on the agricultural front.
Has the rate of suicides come down from the time of Vajpayee Government?
Yes. It has come down drastically. In fact, suicides are caused more by social factors. If the farmer is suffering from a terminal ailment or if he has to marry off his daughter, he either mortgauges his land or borrows from the local moneylender or the mahajan at a high rate of interest. With repayment getting well-nigh impossible, frustration mounts, forcing the farmer to resort to suicide. It is against this backdrop that the government has formulated the schemes for generating alternative sources of income.
Is it true that you have a flair for journalism?
My link with journalism has remained unbroken, all along. I had started with a fortnightly, Chhatra. Later, I started Yuvak Dhara, an eveninger in Patna. Always I wanted to be a journalist. Since I hailed from a family of politicians, eventually I stepped into public life. When I was with Congress Seva Dal, I started Dal Jagat. When I was Bihar PCC President, the Congress headquarters in Patna is known as Sadaqat Ashram and I started a monthly, Sadaqat Vani. Since the inception of NCP more than a decade ago, I was editor of Rashtravadi Sankalp, till I resigned recently to become the Union Minister. Even to this day, I write a regular weekly column in Urdu in Rashtriya Sahara.
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