Rejig in Rajasthan cabinet on cards after CM Ashok Gehlot’s chat with Gandhi siblings

Top leaders remained tight-lipped. Congress’s Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken told the media after the meeting there was ‘nothing special’.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot (Photo | EPS)
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot (Photo | EPS)

JAIPUR:  Even though there is no official announcement, cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan is on the cards. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot held discussions with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken at Rahul Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi on Saturday night. On behalf of Rahul, instructions were given to Gehlot to complete the process at the earliest.

Top leaders remained tight-lipped. Congress’s Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken told the media after the meeting there was ‘nothing special’. But sources close to Gehlot said that the meeting lasted for over an hour and the chief minister presented a roadmap to Rahul and Priyanka. It is learnt that there was talk on caste and regional balance in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle and political appointments. The role of the Sachin Pilot camp was also discussed.

Sources said Gehlot spoke about shifting certain leaders from the governmental wing to the organisation. For instance, minister Harish Chaudhary is willing to move from the government to the organisation. Govind Singh Dotasra, who holds the post of state Congress president is also the education minister. Health minister Raghu Sharma has been given the additional responsibility of Gujarat in-charge. Both Dotasara and Sharma have given indications of leaving their ministerial posts.

The Pilot camp is also said to be demanding a cabinet reshuffle. A consensus is yet to be reached on inducting the Pilot supporters. On Friday, Gehlot met Sonia Gandhi’s advisor Ambika Soni but could not meet the Congress president. Although he was scheduled to stay in Delhi on Sunday, he returned to Jaipur on Saturday night. With bypolls going on in Rajasthan, a cabinet reshuffle is unlikely before the results are declared on November 2.

In July last year, Pilot and 18 MLAs camped in Delhi against the leadership of Gehlot. It was through the efforts of Priyanka that the crisis was resolved. Since then, Pilot has been asking the Gandhis to fulfil the demands of his supporters. With leaders from Rajasthan meeting the siblings instead of Sonia, observers feel these developments may have broader political implications.

There are 21 ministers in the Gehlot cabinet and nine more posts are vacant. If Dotasra and Sharma step down, there will be room for 11 new ministers. Gehlot is said to be keen on six MLAs who came to Congress from BSP, other than his 13 independent MLA supporters. The Pilot camp wants 4-6 ministerial posts from among the MLAs loyal to him.

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