A book that is making the news even before it has hit the stands, Courage and Commitment, by Margaret Alva, the book speaks about many issues which have not been in public light before. A promised ‘tell-all,’ it mentions all the times and incidents that led this fierce Gandhi family loyalist turn into a Sonia Gandhi critic.
Alva, has served as governors of states like Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, and is in a panel to enhance Congress prospects in Karnataka. She has worked with governments led by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi. The focus point of the book is the letter she wrote to Sonia when she was forced to resign as the AICC general secretary in 2008. The resignation came after Alva leveled allegations that tickets for Karnataka elections were being sold. She also speaks about a particular incident where when the Rajiv Gandhi government brought in a law to nullify the judgment taken by Supreme Court in the Shah Bano case, Alva marks Congress’s “slide” and said that, everyone “expected him (Rajiv) to take a stand,” but “he gave in”.
The book offers insights into the maneuverings of 10 Janpath – the home of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and attacks her on various fronts. She indicates lack of transparency, faulty manner of functioning and her habit of surrounding herself with few loyalists. On recent accusation against the PV Narsimha Rao government keeping tabs on senior leaders including Sonia, Alva said: “It came as a revelation…I worked so closely with him. That’s why probably he didn’t give me a cabinet rank…I don’t think anybody suspected him.”
She also delves a lot into the way Congress has treated Rao, and on the cold relationship shared by Rao and Sonia. The book talks about an incident when the Rao government appealed against Delhi High Court’s decision to quash complaints in Bofors case. “What does the Prime Minister want to do? Send me to jail?” Sonia had asked Alva. The book quotes Sonia as saying, “What has the Congress government done for me? This house was allotted to me by the Chandra Shekhar government”.
It also shows Alva’s displeasure at Rao’s body not being placed in AICC headquarters. “He was a Congress president. He should have got his due in his death.”