Monday, Jun 28, 2004
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By Arunkumar Bhatt
MUMBAI, JUNE 27. The appointment of the former All India Congress Committee general secretary, Prabha Rau, as the new Maharashtra Congress president is being seen as a signal from the high command to the party leaders in the State that it will brook no groupism in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
"I will try to prove myself worthy of the trust that our leader, Sonia Gandhi, has reposed in a small party worker like me and I will make efforts to meet her expectations by keeping together all the leaders in the State and understanding their viewpoints," Ms. Rau told The Hindu after her appointment.
The party high command turned down other aspirants such as the former Chief Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, the former Minister, Rajni Patel, and the Agriculture Minister and former State unit chief, Govindrao Adik. At the same time, it also took the wind out of the sails of the sacked president, Ranjit Deshmukh, who could have played the Vidarbha card.
After he was dropped from the Vilasrao Deshmukh Government, Mr. Ranjit Deshmukh had sought the separation of Vidarbha from the State on the ground that the region had been neglected. Now, even that card will not work as Ms. Rau also hails from Vidarbha.
Ms. Rau's defeat in the recent elections from Wardha in Vidarbha was dismissed by the high command as "a small matter" in the words of the AICC general secretary in-charge of the State, Vayalar Ravi.
Mr. Ranjit Deshmukh had been made the State unit chief to check factionalism. However, he allegedly encouraged it using his position to create problems for the Chief Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, who chose not to include him in his Cabinet.
Having failed to get the party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha election, Mr. Ranjit Deshmukh virtually dissociated himself from the Congress campaign in the State, adding to Mr. Shinde's woes. He also blamed Mr. Ravi and Mr. Shinde for the party's poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections and was said to have run a campaign for Mr. Ravi's removal from his post.
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