JAIPUR: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot on Sunday said portfolios to his ministers will be given keeping next Assembly polls in mind and they will buck the trend of power alternately shifting between his party and the BJP in the state.
The assertion by the CM was backed by other party leaders, who also exuded the confidence of retaining power in the 2023 Assembly polls.
The Congress and the BJP are the two principal political parties in Rajasthan and for over two decades, they have come to power alternately as no other outfit has been able to form government since 1998.
Fifteen ministers were sworn-in on Sunday, in a much-awaited expansion of the council of ministers in the state.
Gehlot told reporters before the oath ceremony, "It is the commitment of the Congress Party to return to power in next Assembly elections. We will buck the trend."
The chief minister said in the restructuring of the council of ministers, representation has been given to all sections, be it SCs/STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
He said portfolios among the ministers will be given considering the Assembly elections.
"Our preparation for next Assembly elections has started today and portfolios will be allotted in that context.
We will fulfil expectations of people and form the next government in the state," he told reporters at Raj Bhawan after the oath ceremony.
Congress general secretary Ajay Maken, who is the incharge of Rajasthan affairs at the AICC, said party's national president Sonia Gandhi has given a very a good team for the development of Rajasthan.
"The Congress will return to power in the 2023 Assembly elections," he said.
State Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra, who was elevated to the Cabinet rank, also exuded confidence that the party will retain power.
"The enthusiasm among Congress workers reflects that the state government has done a good work in the past three years," he claimed.
"We are now going to hold 'jan sunwai' of ministers for party workers. The feedback from this exercise will be forwarded to the party high command and the government. We will be taking all steps and leave no stone unturned to make sure that the Congress forms the next government," he said.
Former deputy CM Sachin Pilot said the new Cabinet will help the Congress in future and the party will win the next elections.
Since the 1998 Assembly elections in Rajasthan, the Congress and BJP have ruled alternately.
While the Congress won in the 1998, 2008 and 2018 Assembly elections, the BJP came to power in 2003 and 2013.
It is the third tenure of Ashok Gehlot as the state chief minister.
He earlier became the CM from 1998-2003 and 2008-2013, whereas BJP's Vasundhara Raje was the chief minister of Rajasthan twice from 2003-2008 and 2013-18.
Congress and independent MLAs, who had expectations from the Rajasthan Cabinet expansion but were not accommodated in the reshuffle, would be adjusted through political appointments such as parliamentary secretaries, sources in the party said on Sunday.
Fifteen ministers, 11 cabinet and four ministers of state were sworn in on Sunday in Rajasthan, in a much-awaited expansion of the Gehlot ministry.
Addressing a press conference at the Congress office here, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that those who were expecting a ministerial berth but could not get one have no less roles.
The sources said that besides Congress MLAs, those independents who had supported Gehlot during the rebellion by deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs last year, had expectations from the cabinet reshuffle.
But no independent MLA has been inducted as minister, they said.
Quoting Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot said that those who keep patience get rewarded one day.
Some MLAs could not be made ministers but such legislators will be adjusted in political appointments, he said.
This was the first Cabinet reshuffle after the Congress came to power in December 2018 in the state and there is no place vacant in the council of ministers now with the induction of the 15 ministers.
The number in the council of ministers has increased to 30 now.
The Rajasthan Cabinet can have a maximum of 30 ministers, including the chief minister.
Following the swearing in ceremony at the Raj Bhawan here, the chief minister told reporters that those who did not get an opportunity, they will be adjusted in posts such as parliamentary secretary, adviser to the chief minister, and chairman of various boards and corporations.
The sources said that 15 parliamentary secretaries and seven advisers to the chief minister will be appointed.
This will accommodate 22 MLAs who had expectations that they would be made part of the government.
Those left out will be given other political appointments as chairperson of various boards and corporations, the Congress sources said.
All India Congress Committee general secretary Ajay Maken, however, indicated that it was not the last cabinet reshuffle by saying that new faces would be given the opportunity when some (present ministers) desire to work for the party.
Maken also appreciated Govind Singh Dotasra, Harish Chaudhary and Raghu Sharma, who quit as ministers, to work for the Congress.
Dotasra, Chaudhary and Sharma resigned on Friday from the council of ministers according to the Congress' "one man, one post" formula.
Sharma has been appointed as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Gujarat and Chaudhary as the AICC in-charge for Punjab, while Dotasra is the Rajasthan Congress chief.
Of 15 new ministers, five are believed to be from Sachin Pilot's camp, which had rebelled against Gehlot's leadership in 2020.
The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government had faced the political crisis in July last year after Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs took a rebellious stand.
Rest of the Congress MLAs, independent legislators who were supporting the government, MLAs who quit the BSP and joined the Congress had camped in hotels under the leadership of Gehlot.
The chief minister had assured all those who supported his government at the time of the crisis that he would work as their guardian.
Apart from them, the members of Pilot camp also had expectations from the expansion.
"The party high command and chief minister have taken a balanced stand. All regional and social equations have been considered in the cabinet reshuffle. Since there were limitations, it was not possible to accommodate everyone who had expectations. For this, 15 parliamentary secretaries and seven advisers to CM will be appointed, and other political appointments will also be made," a source said.
The Congress has 108 MLAs in the 200-member assembly.
It also has the support of 12 out of 13 independent MLAs.