"He must be at a resort looking after the flock", veteran politician Margaret Alva said at a graduation ceremony in Bangalore on Saturday, July 13.
Who was Ms Alva, the former Rajasthan Governor, referring to?
She was taking a dig at her fellow politician, the Union Chemical and Fertilisers Minister, D.V. Sadananda Gowda. Gowda, a former Chief Minister of Karnataka, was the invited chief guest but failed to turn up. She was also commenting on the political crisis in the state.
Ms Alva was addressing graduates of the Bangalore Civic Leadership Incubator Programme (B.CLIP) offered by the Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC). Incidentally, the senior Congress leader will be completing a half-century in politics this year. Things have changed for the worse, she observed. "I have won and lost elections in my time, but I was loyal to my party and principles," she stressed.
"Present-day MLAs have a caption 'MLAs for sale' once they win elections," she mocked referring to the unstable government in Karnataka. Further, talking about the current political crisis, she noted, "Politics has become a game of money power. But all political parties are the same behind the screen." Reflecting on the 50 years of her political journey, she pointed out that winning and losing is part of the game, as a peoples' representative. She had fought long and hard to uplift the 'Siddi' tribe of Uttara Kannada. They were given reservation, eventually. However, she lost the subsequent elections, she reminisced.
'Quality representatives' are the need of the hour, she emphasised urging the graduates to take up issues that affect people. For instance, Ms Alva stated that development in Bangalore is adversely affecting its heritage sites. "The Metro phase 2 work is weakening the foundation of the 150-year-old All Saint's Church," she said. There have been public protests too over this. She also highlighted the city's deplorable garbage management system.
B.CLIP is a unique programme offered by BPAC which concentrates on training those individuals who wish to transform their city by actively participating in urban local elections. The curriculum is set by Takshashila Institution, a centre for research on public policy, in consultation and coordination with BPAC. B.CLIP presently has a total of 268 participants from 126 wards of the city. Previous alumni of the programme include the Corporator of Vasanthnagar, Sampath Kumar, and the MLA of Jayanagar, Soumya Reddy. The participants in the programme come from diverse backgrounds. They are also members of various political parties. Hence the tagline: 'Divided by parties, United by BPAC'. There were 80 participants from B.CLIP batches four and five at the event.
Entrepreneur and co-founder of BPAC, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was also present along with the co-founder of Takshashila Institution, Nitin Pai.