New Delhi, July 17 : Former Congress leader Margaret Alva on Sunday said that according to the reports she got, her senior colleague A.K. Antony had recommended her expulsion from the party.
“I was told by people in the close circles, who said that he (Antony) had recommended my expulsion. But everybody that Mrs Gandhi (Sonia Gandhi) consulted said that I should not be removed recalling my years of unstinted service to the party. They said it would be wrong to remove me,” said Alva during an interview to Karan Thapar on India Today News.
In her just-released book “Courage & Commitment: An Autobiography”, Alva had suggested that Antony’s unhelpful behaviour during a meeting with Gandhi was because he wanted to take revenge, for her, for having played a critical role in his ouster as Kerala Chief Minister. He was replaced by Oomen Chandy.
Asked about this, she said: “It could be, but I did not take the decision. After the disaster in Kerala, where Congress lost every single seat in Parliamentary elections, we went there and met the leaders and gave a report saying that people wanted change of leadership. New leader was elected and Chandy became the Chief Minister.
“Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel and me were asked to take the next steps in the state. Antony held it against me and thought I had instigated the whole thing which is not true. But he got the better of me.”
On her reaction to the expulsion, she said: “I was hurt when I had to resign..I put my heart and soul into my work. I expected a bit of consultation or informing..”
Asked if she went to the media with certain revelations that led to her expulsion, she said: “I didn’t go to the media. There was a journalist who was close to the family whom I trusted, who walked into my sitting room uncalled for and brought a list of sons and daughters whom tickets have been given.”
“I never thought he had come there to gain career brownie points. I trusted him..I mentioned that so many children got tickets. And I did say that tickets were sold at the local level, that’s why we lost. That’s a fact,” clarified Alva.
“I didn’t go to the media. He came to me. I didn’t mean to go the press. I stood by what I said and still stand by it. It was the truth. Maybe, I shouldn’t have said it publicly but I trusted the person. I paid the price and I was prepared to,” she added.
Describing her meeting with Gandhi after the incident, Alva said: “A.K. Antony rang me up and said that he wanted to see me. He was put in charge of looking into the whole affair. So, I went to his house, he told me not to worry and it would be sorted out and gave me great assurance.”
“Then he told me Madam (Gandhi) wanted to meet..He also came to the meeting..As I entered I saw a grave-looking Sonia ji sitting. I told her I feel like a schoolgirl summoned by the head-mistress,” she recalled.
“She smiled and made me sit..And then the usual thing ‘why was it said during the elections’. She told me you are close to me, it has upset people and everyone around…
“So, I told her ‘if I have embarrassed you and and if you are upset, I’ll step down. You brought me to the AICC, I am grateful for that. I have done the best I could. I’ll go home and send you my letter and put it all down.
“Then Antony said ‘don’t write anything to upset the leader. To which I told him ‘you have no place in my relationship with Sonia ji..you stay out of it..’ Sonia ji held my hand and said ‘calm down, don’t get upset’..She said she would ring me up. That night I wrote the letter. Pressure on me was too much..”