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Strict action against Alva likely

A senior party leader, who didn't wish to be named, said it was for the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to decide on the quantum of punishment. Saroj Nagi reports.

delhi Updated: Nov 12, 2008 00:43 IST
Saroj Nagi

Sonia Gandhi is expected to take strict and immediate action against Margaret Alva.

A senior party leader, who didn't wish to be named, said it was for the Congress chief to decide on the quantum of punishment. “Much depends on whether she apologises,” the leader said, adding that she could be suspended and her resignation accepted.

Indications of strong action came after AK Antony, chairman of the party’s disciplinary action committee, met Sonia on the matter.

The former Union minister has publicly alleged party tickets were “sold” for the Karnataka elections.

“The Congress will definitely take disciplinary action against her,” spokes-man Veerappa Moily said shortly after Antony called on Sonia. “Sometimes only the chairman is asked to decide,” said Moily when asked why the full disciplinary panel didn't go into the issue.

Right through the day, there were indications of a tough stand against Alva. Moily indicated that her position as general secretary had become untenable even if her outbursts were considered “emotional”.

In the six months since the Karnataka polls, Alva did not flag her concern either to the Congress president or at any party fora. Instead, she came out in public at a critical time when the assembly elections are close, Moily said. “We don’t know whether it was voluntary, involuntary or deliberate. But the end result is the same — a gross violation of discipline.”

Was Alva then sabotaging the party’s poll prospects, particularly with the BJP making it an election issue? “It’s too premature to say that… but she must have,” he said.

Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi joined leaders like Digvijay Singh and Ashok Gehlot in refuting Alva’s charges. After a meeting of the party’s manifesto committee, he told reporters he was “not unhappy” with the ticket distribution. He added that as general secretary in charge of the Youth Congress, he had made some recommendations, but evaded queries on whether Alva had violated party discipline.

Alva, who remained incommunicado, got support from some quarters. Besides Yogendra Makwana from Gujarat, Siddaramaiah and RL Jalappa from her home state Karnataka and P. Shiv Shankar from Andhra Pradesh backed her. CK Jaffer Sharief seemed to agree with her but said she should have raised the issue at a party forum.

Meanwhile, a group of party workers from Tonk, Rajasthan, landed up echoing Alva’s charges.