New Delhi: Margaret Alva, as Vice President candidate, shows Congress and the opposition parties do not too many options to look for.
In 1996 when H D Deve Gowda was the Prime Minister and I K Gujral the foreign minister, Margaret Alva was Congress MP in Rajya Sabha.
Of course, the United Front government was then supported by the Left parties. Referring to then West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu holding talks with Bangladesh ‘on his own’ on sharing of water, she said could Chief Ministers do that: Whether Chief Ministers of border states would hold talks with neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
According to Margaret Alva’s interview given in 2016, as PM P V Narasimha Rao wanted to know from her what the ‘mood was’ at 10 Janpath. He did not want any clash – she had said. Opposition’s Vice-Presidential candidate Margaret Alva on Tuesday, July 19, filed her nomination papers at Parliament.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge & Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut were also present among others. In July 2016, Margaret Alva had accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi of insulting and ill-treating former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.
“Whatever the differences, he had been the Prime Minister, Congress President, Chief Minister and party’s General Secretary. He had done a wonderful job, except for the Babri Masjid and the mess up with it,” she had said.
“When a man is dead, you don’t treat him that way. And I was hurt. I have always regretted not walking away on that occasion but I did not want to insult his body by walking away,” Ms Alva said.
Margaret Alva was Minister in charge of CBI during PM Narasimha Rao’s tenure and it happened that, according to her – both (Rao and Sonia) started suspecting her on where did her loyalty lay.
In a video/TV interview she also said ‘tickets (Congress) were sold in Karnataka’….”I have proofs, people have written about it and that’s why we lost”.
In the interview talking about her meeting with Sonia Gandhi, she says in lighter vein that she felt like a “school girl summoned by the Head Mistress”. In the meeting between herself , Sonia Gandhi and A K Antony, she (Ms Alva) was also upset with Antony.
“I told him don’t come in between my relationship with Sonia ji”. Sonia then held Margaret Alva’s hands and said, “do not get upset”.
On her differences with A K Antony, she had suggested that Antony must have grievances because once he was replaced as Chief Minister (Sonia’s leadership) by Oomen Chandy. In the interview she had maintained that the decision to replace Antony was not hers.
Three leaders were sent as AICC observers – Ms Alva, Pranab Mukherjee and Ahmed Patel and there a decision was taken to replace Antony.
In the particular interview she sort of also complains that her appointment as Governor of Uttarakhand came as a shocker. She was told by Sonia Gandhi over phone that she would be deputed to one of the gubernatorial posts and she (Ms Alva) could not even ask Sonia – why.
“I did not want to go out of Delhi then,” she says – of course adding the decision to appoint her as Governor was finally of the government and of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
She says in 2016 interview even Sushil Kumar Shinde’s appointment as Andhra Pradesh Governor came as a surprise as both of them were having tea and then suddenly Shinde got the information that he has been appointed as the Governor.
In 1996 during the Rajya Sabha debate on foreign policy matters, Ms Alva had even asked, “Will Farooq Abdullah be sent to Pakistan for negotiation?”
The context of Jyoti Basu discussing with Bangladesh leadership on water share was particularly relevant as Margaret Alva knew very well that only a few weeks before Basu had missed the stint as Prime Minister after CPI-M politburo voted against CPI-M joining the ministry. Basu himself later called it ‘a historical blunder’.
Countering her question, of course External Affairs Minister I K Gujral had said, “there was no harm in such discussion (between Cm Basu and Bangladesh leadership)”. (Dec 8, 1996, Rajya Sabha proceedings). Gujral also had replied that it was Jawaharlal Nehru had himself sent Sheikh Abdullah to Pakistan for negotiations. So Basu discussing with Bangladesh was nothing erroneous as matters pertained to Calcutta Port. Of course, Gujral assured the House that any agreement with Bangladesh will be concluded by the central government.