NEW DELHI: After settling the Punjab leadership tussle, the Congress leadership seems to have turned its focus to Rajasthan. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday met Sachin Pilot with cabinet expansion in the state on the cards.
During the meeting, sources said there was a discussion on pending cabinet expansion in Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot government and induction of MLAs from Pilot camp, as was promised to him after he was wooed back to party following his rebellion last year.
Pilot, who was removed as deputy chief minister and state Congress chief after the rebellion, is also demanding inclusion of his people in various boards, corporations and other political positions. The meeting, second within a week’s time, comes close on the heels of the party going for leadership change in Punjab and getting a new chief minister by replacing party veteran Amarinder Singh ahead of assembly polls in the state.
Sources said that as of now, leadership change in the state is unlikely but ahead of Rajasthan assembly election in 2023, the party may bring him at the helm of affairs and project as the face of the party. “The situation in Punjab and Rajasthan is different as Captain (Amarinder Singh) lost the faith of the majority of the MLAs while Gehlot enjoys the support of most legislators. Moreover, the party as of now would not want to take chances, giving the BJP any opportunity to destablise the government,” they added.
The party has officially maintained that the cabinet expansion has been delayed due to ill-health of Gehlot but a senior leader said that the chief minister is not agreeing to the formula worked out by party high command. “Pilot has been assured cabinet expansion as soon as early next month and he has also been offered a key role in the AICC,” said sources, adding that earlier he had turned down central position on ground that he would want to focus on Rajasthan.
There were reports that the party wants him to take charge of election-bound Gujarat as the party is looking to appoint AICC incharge for the state, a post that fell vacant following the demise of Rajeev Satav.
No official word on discussion
Though there was no official word on what transpired at the meeting, sources said the impending cabinet expansion and organisational rejig were discussed. Pilot has been pushing for Cabinet expansion for long.