New Delhi, Sep 18: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar has decided to drop Agatha Sangma, central minister and daughter of former NCP leader P A Sangma from the UPA government and recommend the name of senior party leader Tariq Anwar for induction into the ministry from the NCP's quota.
Several quarters suspected the exit of Agatha, the young minister of state for rural development in the next ministerial reshuffle, after her father refused to abide by the party's decision and go ahead to contest the presidential poll against UPA's Pranab Mukherjee earlier this year. Sangma left the NCP, which is an ally in the UPA, and went on to contest the poll although he lost in an one-sided contest. Sangma later left the NCP with several MLAs of Meghalaya assembly to join the National People's Party, a Manipur-based party.
Sangma invited further trouble when he made uncharitable remarks against the UPA leadership following his defeat. He even moved the Supreme Court challenging Mukherjee's election as the President of India. The NCP had hinted at dropping Agatha then as a retaliation against Sangma's 'uncharitable' move.
Congress sources said it was difficult to accommodate a senior leader like Anwar as a minister of state. The NCP has only 9 MPs and two Cabinet-rank ministers in Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel. There were talks that Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule could become a minister but Anwar could not be overlooked owing to his strong loyalty to Pawar.
The Congress also showed its inclination towards Anwar for the current government has no minister from Bihar. Anwar, 61, a Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra, has been a significant personality in Bihar politics. He won from the Katihar Lok Sabha constituency four times but lost to BJP's heavyweight Nikhil Kumar Choudhary for three consecutive times in 1999, 2004 and 2009. UPA sources believe providing a ministerial berth to Anwar will facilitate its cause in the state.