JAIPUR: There is a buzz in the political circles of Rajasthan that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot may soon appoint two more deputy CMs. Congress sources say that two new deputy CMs may be appointed from the Jat and other Dalit communities as a counter to the BJP’s appointment of Jat leader Satish Poonia as state party president last month.
While it is clearly a move to woo the influential Jat community in the state, many say it is an attempt to cut the stature of Sachin Pilot, who is presently a deputy CM as well as chief of the Rajasthan State Congress Committee, and has had a long history of tension with Gehlot.
The speculations are that at least three out of six BSP MLA's who had recently joined congress could be adjusted in the cabinet reshuffle. The rumours are that the reshuffle can take place during Navratri also because the by-election for the two assembly seats of Mandawa and Kheenwsar are scheduled for 21st October and congress is serious about both the seats in the Jat belt of Jhunjhunu and Nagaur districts.
Party sources have revealed that Congress leadership in Rajasthan is currently considering how to improve the caste equations in the state.
The Jat community has traditionally been a major vote bank of the Congress party and in view of the upcoming panchayat and local body elections, this decision becomes important.
According to sources, discussions are also underway to see if another Deputy Chief Minister could be appointed from the SC or ST community.
While cabinet ministers Lal Chand Kataria (Agriculture) and Harish Chaudhary (Revenue) are the front runners from the Jat community for the post, Khiladi Lal Bairwa, an MLA from Baseri in Dholpur, is the favoured one for the post from the SC community. All the three are staunch supporters of the chief minister in the faction-ridden state Congress.
Earlier in 1998, Gehlot had two deputy CMs - Kamla Beniwal, who represented the Jats faction, and Banwarilal Bairwa, a representative of the SC community.
Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Reddy has appointed five Deputy CMs to maintain the caste affiliations and the trend seems to be catching on in Congress as well.
While there have been many speculations about Pilot’s future as State Congress Chief since he has completed five years of his term as President, State party in-charge Avinash Pande has made it clear that the upcoming Panchayat and local body elections would be fought under Pilot’s leadership.
Speculations are such that, keeping in view a full-time party president may be appointed from the Brahmin community after the local body elections.