Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle: In balancing act, Congress to induct 12 new faces, including 5 from Pilot camp

Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle: In balancing act, Congress to induct 12 new faces, including 5 from Pilot camp

Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle: In balancing act, Congress to induct 12 new faces, including 5 from Pilot camp

The much-delayed Cabinet expansion and reshuffle of Ashok Gehlot-led Cabinet in Rajasthan is likely to be held on Sunday.

The oath-taking ceremony of new Rajasthan ministers will take place at the governor’s house on Sunday at 4 pm, news agency ANI quoted sources as saying.

All ministers in the Congress-ruled Rajasthan resigned during a meeting at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's residence in Jaipur on Saturday evening.

Later at night, the chief minister went to Raj Bhawan and held a meeting with Governor Kalraj Mishra in connection with the Cabinet reshuffle.

"All ministers resigned in the meeting," Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, who held the charge of the transport minister, told reporters here.

"We have been asked to go to the PCC office at 2 pm on Sunday where further instructions will be given by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, AICC general secretary Ajay Maken and PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasra," Khachariyawas said.

Khachariyawas said it is for the chief minister and the party high command to decide on reshuffling and it will be known tomorrow what instructions they give. "We will be reaching the PCC office tomorrow at 2 pm. We will be following further instructions given to us there," he said.

Congress leader and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot on Sunday said the Cabinet reshuffle initiated by the Ashok Gehlot government has sent a positive message across the state and denied any factionalism in the party.

Four Dalits have been included in the Cabinet. This is a big message. At the same time, the representation of tribals and women has been increased. This was a necessary step and the party and the government worked hard to take it forward," Pilot told reporters at his residence here ahead of the scheduled swearing-in of the new Cabinet.

Expressing satisfaction, he said the Cabinet reshuffle is a “big sign” that will benefit the Congress in the future. He exuded confidence that the party will again form the government in the state in 2023.

“This decision (reshuffle) has been taken in a very comprehensive, accurate and thoughtful manner. I am happy that the issues raised, including increasing representation of Dalits, have been addressed by the party leadership,” Pilot said.

"It has been tried that no one should be left out and the decision has been made keeping in view every section as well as from the regional point of view. The representation of SC and women has increased manifold. This in itself is very important which we all should welcome,” he said.

He said increasing women's percentage in the Cabinet could be seen as a reflection of what Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had said earlier that 40 percent tickets would be given to women candidates in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

“The work has been done to give representation, participation in proper proportion, to the section which has always stood with the Congress. For this, I thank Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Ajay Maken, Ashok Gehlot and Govind Singh Dotasra. They discussed with all the leaders and such a big reshuffle has been done in a very comprehensive approach and after taking feedback from all the leaders and workers,” Pilot said.
He said the committee which was formed last year to look into the issues raised by him has “delivered the first result” and more positive steps are expected when political appointments will take place. When asked about members from his group who have been given a place in the Cabinet, Pilot said there was no factionalism in the party and all will work unitedly to win the 2023 Assembly elections.

"There is only one faction -- the faction of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and we all are the members. It will be our endeavour to move forward collectively and win the next assembly elections," he said. He said the partymen are working under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.

Everyone collectively fought the 2018 assembly elections under the leadership of these leaders and the party came to power in the state winning 100 out of 200 seats. Pilot said that under the Cabinet reshuffle, the new government structure has been prepared keeping in view the regional and the social balance, which will benefit the Congress.

On a question about his role in the new setup, Pilot said that he will follow what the party decides for him.  “I have always talked about principles, SC/STs, OBCs and workers. My aim is to bring the party to power again in Rajasthan,” he said.

Why is this happening?

Three days ago, Gehlot had said that the cabinet restructuring would take place soon. At present, there are 21 members in the state Cabinet, including the chief minister.

Rajasthan, where the number of MLAs is 200, can have a maximum of 30 ministers, including the chief minister.

The clamour for Cabinet reshuffle had been growing for the past several months with a demand to accommodate supporters of CM Gehlot's former deputy Sachin Pilot, who had revolted against the chief minister last year. Pilot and 18 other MLAs had declared a revolt against the leadership of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot last year. Pilot has been categorical that the party should make changes and accommodate party workers so that they feel represented in the government.

Apart from the ruling party MLAs, independents who support the government and those who defected from the BSP to Congress also have expectations from the reshuffle.

The Rajasthan unit of the Congress has been facing turmoil with Pilot and Gehlot unable to see eye to eye on several matters.

Who are the new probables?

The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government will have a total of 30 ministers, including 18 who had resigned earlier.

Three ministers of state, all of whom are from the Scheduled Caste (SC) community, have been elevated to the cabinet rank, the sources said.

The new state cabinet will for the first time have four SC members, a step taken by the Congress after elevating a Dalit as the chief minister of Punjab.

There will be three ministers from the Scheduled Tribe (ST) community, the sources said, adding that the cabinet will also feature three women -- a Muslim, one from the SC community and a Gujjar.

Among the new ministers to take oath as cabinet ministers are Hemaram Chaudhary, Mahendrajit Singh Malviya, Ramlal Jat, Mahesh Joshi, Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Meena, Mamta Bhupesh Bhairwa, Bhajanlal Jatav, Tikaram Juli, Govind Ram Meghwal and Shakuntala Rawat.

Those who will take oath as the new ministers of state on Sunday are Zahida, Brijendra Singh Ola, Rajendra Durha and Muralilal Meena.

Among those from the Sachin Pilot camp who have been included in the ministry are Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Meena and Hemaram Chaudhary as cabinet ministers, besides Brijendra Ola and Murari Meena as ministers of state.

Two of them -- Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena -- were sacked as cabinet ministers during a political crisis in the state last year.

The three SC ministers who have been elevated to the cabinet rank are Bhajanlal Jatav, Mamta Bhupesh Bhairwa and Tikaram Juli.

"I have worked with honesty and dedication in the department of home guards and civil defence. I am thankful to the party high command and chief minister for recognising my work and promoting me,” Jatav told reporters. I will try my best to stand true to their expectations, he said.

Bhupesh said she worked to deliver good governance and fulfil the agenda of the government that has been recognised. "My agenda was to deliver good governance and to take the state government's policies and programmes to the people. People are happy with the Congress government's works and we are fully confident that the government will repeat (its victory in 2018 assembly polls) in the 2023 elections," she said.

Another SC member, former MP Govind Ram Meghwal, is a fresh face to be included in the refurbished cabinet.

Rajinder Guda, a former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA who later joined the Congress, has also been included as a minister.

Dotasra shared the list of the 15 ministers -- 11 cabinet ministers and four ministers of state -- to be sworn-in on Sunday on Twitter.

The sources said no independent MLA has been given a ministerial berth, while some of them would be included as parliamentary secretaries.

Some former BSP legislators would also be included as parliamentary secretaries, they said, adding that some senior MLAs would be made advisers to the chief minister.
After the recent bypolls, in which it snatched a seat from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling Congress has 102 MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly.

With inputs from agencies