Rane in Delhi, Congress hopes to placate him

August 7th, 2008 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi/Nagpur, Aug 7 (IANS) A day after threatening to quit the party over his differences with Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane arrived in New Delhi to meet the Congress leaders. Rane, who has publicly criticised the cabinet decision to allot Navi Mumbai’s CIDCO land to Videocon at a hugely subsidised rate, is expected to meet Congress general secretary Margarat Alva and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmad Patel.

“No decision can be taken until the Congress president returns from Beijing,” Alva told reporters in the national capital. Gandhi and her family have left for Beijing to take part in the inaugural ceremony of the Olympic games Thursday.

Talking to reporters in Nagpur Wednesday evening, Rane said it was futile to remain in the cabinet because the government was “inactive and working against the interests of the people in the state”.

Rane, who left the Shiv Sena to join Congress, said he wanted to inform the party leadership about the Videocon deal.

While dubbing the land allotment to Videocon a ’sellout’, Rane defended his earlier decisions as revenue minister to allot land to Sahara City, Mukand Iron and Panjarpol.

After joining the Congress, Rane, who enjoys strong influence in the Konkan region, had indicated that he wanted to be the chief minister. He had rebelled against Deshmukh earlier also.

Rane had been backed by then state Congress president Prabha Rau, now the governor of Himachal Pradesh, as well as Alva.

However, the Congress leadership does not favour changing Deshmukh, a confidante of Sonia Gandhi. He played a key role in getting two Maharashtra opposition MPs to abstain from the July 22 trust vote that the Congress-led government won.

Congress sources said the leadership did not want to antagonize Rane and was likely to offer him some other posts if he still wants to quit the state cabinet.

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