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What is on Margaret's Alva's mind?

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | November 11, 2008 23:08 IST

The kid who cries loudest gets the milk. This seems to be the case of Margaret Alva, according to Congress insiders in Karnataka. So why has Alva gone on a tangent despite knowing fully well that she runs the risk of being expelled from the party without which she is a nobody in politics.

Congress insiders and political observers point out that her strategy could be two fold- one: strengthen her losing base within the party and secondly she may have made up her mind to join another political party.

Trouble started brewing the Alva camp ever since the Karnataka elections were announced. She fought hard to get her son, Nivedit Alva, a ticket but she was denied the same. She did raise a small hue and cry at that time, but it died down eventually along with the Congress debacle in the state.

While things seem to fall in place, the decision of the party high command to appoint, R V Deshpande as the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee did not go down too well with Alva. The rivalry between Deshpande and Alva is no secret. The two have been traditional rivals ever since the days of Deshpande in the Janata Dal (S). The duo shared a common stronghold in Haliyal, Karnataka until Deshpande overtook her in terms of the vote bank. Hence this outburst could also be seen as a mark of protest against making Deshpande the KPCC chief.

Sources in the Congress say that the mantle of the Karnataka Congress was handed over to Deshpande with an intention of strengthening the party and he has sworn that he will ensure that losing candidates do not get a ticket in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. This would mean that Deshpande would ensure that Margaret Alva is denied a ticket which in turn has got the madam all panicky.

A senior leader in the Congress asks, "What are her credentials in the party now apart from being close to the supremo. Her political innings is coming to an end and she realizes that she does not enjoy the clout that she had any longer. The turning point for her obviously was the denial of a ticket to her son to fight the assembly elections.'' However, she did not make such a hue and cry at that point of time keeping in mind her own interest in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Congress insiders say that it was definite that she would not be issued a ticket in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls and hence she decided to create a hue and cry.

It is a known fact that Alva is a nobody without the Congress and despite knowing this fact she has decided to go ahead and speak knowing fully well that she ran the risk of being expelled from the party. This was her second innings in the Congress and she too knows that. Some Congressmen say that she is a smart politician who has weighed her options very carefully. We are sure that she has been approached by another party. At this juncture it seems that both the BSP and the BJP will be only too happy to grab her into their fold.

The BSP is looking to improve its Southern base and the BJP is desperately looking for a Christian face in Karnataka in order to negate the bad publicity it got during the Church attacks. The Congress had honoured Alva all these days thinking that she would be the Christian face in Karnataka for the party but she was surprisingly silent during the Church attacks that took place in the state. Although the Congress does have Oscar Fernandes whose mass support is negligible, the party was seen bending towards BJP MP, H T Sangliana who made all the right noises during the Church attack case. Another reason why both these parties would like to have Alva on their side is because she could provide vital information regarding the Congress. Alva has been part of the Congress think tank and until the outburst she was privy to the entire election strategy of the Congress and this information could be vital to rival groups.

Congress sources say that Alva was aware of this fact too and realized that the last nail would be hammered by the Congress. With the hopes of promoting her son and also herself in the Congress in the coming days fading, she has decided to rake up this issue, Congress leaders say.

However, there is a big question mark on whether she would be expelled from the party. It seems unlikely that the Congress may take such a hasty decision and would prefer it if she left the party on her own. The Congress cannot afford a controversy now since from past experience they have realized that expelling people from the party when elections are round the corner has worked well for the candidate himself/herself.

The Congress finds itself in a difficult situation at the moment. If the party expels her, it could boost the chances of their rivals who have already started using this issue as a topic in the election campaign. If the party decides against expelling her then it would only give rise to more such voices in the party every time tickets are denied to them or their kith and kin.

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