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Alva isn’t Cong’s only headache

Senior congress leader Margaret Alva’s allegations of cash-for-tickets have deepened the divide in the faction-ridden party unit in her home state of Karnataka. BR Srikanth reports.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2008 00:42 IST
BR Srikanth

Senior congress leader Margaret Alva’s allegations of cash-for-tickets have deepened the divide in the faction-ridden party unit in her home state of Karnataka.

The party’s poor performance in the May assembly elections has come back to haunt the Congress even as an Alva loyalist claimed on Tuesday that he was refused a ticket for “monetary considerations”.

In almost a dozen assembly seats, mining and real estate magnates were favoured over local party leaders. The party had been selective in following no-tickets-to-relatives policy, Alva has alleged.

The split in the state unit is obvious. While leaders like Siddaramaiah and R.L. Jalappa, a four-time Lok Sabha member, are backing Alva, Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, who was heading the state unit at that time, and former CM N. Dharam Singh are livid. While Kharge refused to comment, Singh criticised Alva’s “hasty decision” to quit.

“She is a senior leader. Her views should be taken seriously by the high command,” Siddaramaiah, sidelined after the assembly polls, told mediapersons.

Interestingly, Jalappa, whose son Narasimhaswamy defected to the BJP a couple of months after he was elected on a Congress ticket, backed Alva. “I have some information about these transactions. If they (party leaders) are sensitive, they should investigate her complaint. Otherwise, let them go to hell,” Jalappa said.

Prithviraj Chavan and Digvijay Singh should be blamed for the party’s defeat, Alva loyalist Shivamurthy Nayak said. “I’ve handed over a letter to Sonia Gandhi about these leaders ruining the party’s chances.”

The party had announced his name but Kharge kept him waiting and the ticket was finally given to “rank outsider” Ramappa, “for monetary considerations”, he said. He claimed Alva protested but to no avail. She did not raise the issue because of her son but because many from weaker sections and minorities were denied ticket, he claimed.

CK Jaffer Sharief, who revolted after his grandsons were denied tickets, however, didn’t approve of Alva’s “emotional outburst”. She shouldn’t forget that she made it to national politics due to the proximity of her in-laws to Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.”