Erstwhile Himachal royal settles for cabinet rank
Chandresh Kumari Katoch, one of the seven new ministers sworn in with cabinet rank Sunday, had earlier expressed keenness to return to Himachal Pradesh politics.
This Congress MP from Rajasthan is married into the erstwhile royal family of Katoch, which ruled Kangra in Himachal Pradesh.
The induction into the union cabinet comes almost as reward for sacrificing the ambition to return to Himachal Pradesh politics; the state is headed for polling Nov 4.
Elected to the Lok Sabha from Jodhpur in Rajasthan in 2009, Chandresh Kumari is not a new face in the politics.
She is a three-time legislator and two-time MP from Himachal Pradesh.
A senior Congress leader told IANS that Chandresh Kumari was keen to contest the forthcoming assembly elections in the state from Dharamsala, the seat she represented from 2003-07.
She was, he said, denied the ticket for two reasons: first, Himachal Pradesh Committee chief Virbhadra Singh lobbied for his close confidant Sudhir Sharma; second, the party was not keen to field her from Dharamsala, as her victory would have left the parliamentary seat vacant and result in the by-poll.
Before the list of Congress candidates for the assembly polls in Himachal was made known, Chandresh Kumari had been busy touring her constituency.
In 2007 assembly polls, she lost to BJP's Kishan Kapoor with a big margin.
Subsequently, she was elected to Lok Sabha for the second term from Jodhpur.
Chandresh Kumari, 68, was born in the erstwhile royal family of Jodhpur, and is married into the family of the erstwhile rulers of Kangra.
She won her first assembly elections from Bamsan in Hamirpur district, since scrapped after delimitation in 2008, in 1972.
She won the assembly polls in 1982 and 2003 and a Lok Sabha seat from Kangra in 1984. She was also member of the Rajya Sabha from 1996.
She was minister of state for tourism for nine months in 1984. She was elevated as health minister in the Virbhadra Singh cabinet from 2003-04.
Chandresh Kumari was also president of the All India Mahila Congress from 1999-2003.
"Her induction into the cabinet comes as a great honour for Himachal Pradesh, as she has her roots here," Congress spokesperson Kewal Pathania said.