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Prabha Rau was an athlete, trained musician


Mumbai : A soft-spoken and quiet person, Rajasthan Governor Prabha Rau, who died Monday, was an athlete in her school and college days and had represented Maharashtra in several sporting events.

Rau was born March 4, 1935, in Khandwa, now in Madhya Pradesh, in the well-known Wasu family of freedom fighters and social reformers from Wardha district in eastern Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

A good athlete, Rau represented the state in long jump, high jump, hurdles, running and discus throw. Ironically, she lost her life after a fall in the bathroom at the Jodhpur House guesthouse of Rajasthan in Delhi, followed by a heart attack. She was 74.

Her mother, Manubai Wasu, was a government medico who left her job to work with Mahatma Gandhi and served in far off rural areas among the poorest of poor.

Her father, an engineer trained in Britain, had joined the freedom struggle and donated a hospital for the benefit of the Dalits and other downtrodden communities in the backward regions of eastern Maharashtra.

Prabha Rau imbibed her parents’ spirit of public service, and she joined social service. She graduated to politics over the years, along with her husband, the late S. Anand Rau.

She did a Master’s in political science and was a post-graduate diploma holder in Indian classical music. As a student, Rau represented India twice abroad as leader and member of her university athletic and cultural delegations.

Rau joined politics in the early 1960s and was elected to the Maharashtra legislative assembly in 1972 for the first time.

She was made a minister and held various portfolios during her six stints as a legislator in the state. She travelled widely around the world, representing the state and the country at various important international events.

Rau also functioned as Leader of Opposition in 1979 and was elected for one term to the Lok Sabha in 1999. Besides, she served as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president twice – from 1984-1989 and 2004-2008, followed by a stint as general secretary of AICC in New Delhi.

In July 2008, Rau was made governor of Himachal Pradesh and in January this year she was transferred as Rajasthan governor – a post she held till her untimely demise Monday.

Rau is survived two daughters – Sanyogita Kamlesh Morarji, living in Mumbai, and Charulata Khajan Singh Tokas, who lives in New Delhi.