Prabha Rau next Himachal Pradesh governor (Lead, Changing dateline)

July 8th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi/ Mumbai, July 8 (IANS) Prabha Rau, Maharashtra Congress chief, will be the next governor of Himachal Pradesh. President Pratibha Patil Tuesday appointed the senior Congress leader the governor of Himachal Pradesh, succeeding Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje.

The announcement came amid a full-scale political crisis at the centre, with the Left parties withdrawing support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, reducing it to minority in parliament.

A state Congress spokesman told IANS that Rau was yet to decide when she would assume her new charge.

Rau, 73, is considered a long-time bete noire of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

A well-placed state party leader said the party high command was upset over Rau’s “clean chit” to Revenue Minister Narayan Rane whose alleged supporters created an ugly ruckus at a party meeting Congress chief Sonia Gandhi addressed here June 19.

According to party sources, she is believed to have sent a report to the high command recently absolving Rane of any involvement in the fracas. In the presence of Sonia Gandhi, rival factions of party workers traded blows, raised slogans and flung chairs around. Deshmukh and other central and state leaders also were present.

However, the state Congress spokesman rubbished all speculation behind Rau being chosen for a gubernatorial post aand said Rau was “rewarded” for her good work as state unit chief for four years in the present tenure and three years earlier.

“She has a rich knowledge of the party and state politics and would be an asset in the gubernatorial position,” he said.

With Rau’s appointment, the stage is set for a long awaited reshuffle in the Maharashtra party set-up, the city party unit and other key party organisations, the source said.

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