Margaret Alva

The clap that ceased: Margaret Alva

Indian National Congress general secretary Margaret Alva’s allegation, before she was forced out of the post, would not shock many who are aware of the internal workings of the party. That she has chosen to make something known to those close to the Congress public does not boost the image of Ms. Alva. For, she is no whistle blower.

She blurted it out because her son failure to get a ticket for the Karnataka Assembly elections. Despite her closeness to the Congress high command (read Sonia Gandhi), her position (gratis the high command) as general secretary and member of the Central election committee, her son did not get a party ticket.

That kinship is a qualification for seats in the Congress is something that has been accepted and acted upon by even the Defence Minister and Disciplinary committee Chair A. K. Antony. (If you have forgotten all about that, recall how K. Karunakaran’s son K. Muraleedharan got his Lok Sabha ticket for the first time.) Still, Ms. Alva could not manage a ticket for her dear son. She has been outbid.

Ms. Alva’s present plight, however, need not be of much concern to the public. What is of concern is how our “would be” members of the Assembly are going to recover their investment. Already, they do all sorts of things to recover their election expenses. They will grant undue favours and pilfer public money. Now with their selectors also sharing booty, these activities will become a larger cooperative enterprise. The party will forfeit forever the right to question any member of the Assembly for amassing money. (I am not saying that the party does anything of sort even now. However, opponents within the party sometimes used such issues to their advantage, and that could rein some members.)

All these point to the need for internal democracy in the Congress if it is to retain semblance of a democratic party committed to people.

How far money influences selection of Congress candidates in the selection of party candidates in Kerala is not know. But we indeed know that this practice was prevailing in some smaller parties, especially the break-aways from the Congress. Even a leftist party had been forced to allocate seat to a leader repeatedly in the past, as he was a good fundraiser.