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Alva stripped of all posts

Congress president Sonia Gandhi stripped Margaret Alva of all party positions and “temporarily” divided the responsibilities entrusted on her among four leaders, reports Saroj Nagi.

delhi Updated: Nov 13, 2008 00:30 IST
Saroj Nagi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday stripped Margaret Alva of all party positions and “temporarily” divided the responsibilities entrusted on her — of managing seven states — among four leaders. All four are Rajya Sabha members and known for their loyalty.

Alva got off comparatively lightly, without attracting suspension — following her allegation that party tickets were sold for the Karnataka assembly polls. Her work was distributed among Defence Minister and Disciplinary Action Committee head A.K. Antony (Maharashtra), AICC treasurer Motilal Vora (Haryana), Rajya Sabha MP Mohsina Kidwai (Punjab and Chandigarh) and Union minister Oscar Fernandes (Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram). While elections in Mizoram are scheduled for December 2, Maharashtra is due next year. Before that, there’s the Lok Sabha election.

A day after Antony submitted his report on Alva’s allegations, Sonia accepted her resignation as general secretary with “immediate effect”. She also “relieved” the 66-year-old from the party’s highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee, and the Central Election Committee.

Congress sources said no further action is being contemplated unless, of course, Alva renews her attack on the party. “She is under probation… Her behaviour is being watched,” said a senior leader.

For her part, Alva kept away from the media glare.

Party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed claimed Alva had resigned because she’d realised her mistake. He said her services would be used in the upcoming assembly polls. He was also confident the action taken against her would deter others from publicly expressing their grievances.

But the Congress’s problems don’t end with Alva’s resignation. Two questions remain unanswered: can the Congress undo the damage caused by Alva’s allegations, and has it not brushed these allegations under the carpet by rejecting them as “unfounded and imaginary”?