‘Much-awaited cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan delayed further’: Congress leaders

Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Jaipur | ByAurangzeb Naqshbandi, Sachin Saini
Dec 23, 2020 08:01 PM IST

The fragile truce between warring chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot may have given some respite to the Congress leadership but the infighting in the state unit is far from over.

The much-awaited cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan will take place only after the ruling Congress makes changes in the organisational structure and fills the vacancies in boards and corporations by January-end, people familiar with the development said.

File photo: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.(HT Photo)
File photo: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.(HT Photo)

A weak organisation on the ground was identified as one of the key reasons for the ruling party’s unimpressive show in the recent local bodies’ elections, a party leader said. Delay in political appointments and cabinet expansion were said to be the other factors, he added.

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The fragile truce between warring chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot may have given some respite to the Congress leadership but the infighting in the state unit is far from over.

On August 16, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appointed senior leader Ajay Maken as party general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan in place of Avinash Pande - one of the key demands of former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 rebel Congress legislators who protested Gehlot’s style of functioning.

She had also named Maken, Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal as members of a party panel formed to look into issues raised by Pilot.

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However, the panel could meet only a few times before Patel’s death on November 25 and had not made much progress in its assigned task.

“That is possibly the reason why the cabinet reshuffle is getting delayed. The high command wants to avoid any further escalation of tensions in the state and for that, it will have to strike a fine balance between Gehlot and Pilot camps,” said another Congress leader.

To ensure peace, Congress general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken has formulated a strategy. According to a party functionary, he has suggested that organisational restructuring should take place before the appointments in boards and corporations and the changes in the government.

After several rounds of discussions in Jaipur and Delhi, Rajasthan Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra, who replaced Pilot after his rebellion, is likely to submit his list of the state executive this week to Maken for approval.

After the upcoming local bodies’ elections, changes in the party at district and block levels will be announced. Dotasra has so far been functioning without a team.

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“All the political appointments will also be announced from January in phases and the reshuffle in the state cabinet will happen only after the budget session,” the functionary quoted above said.

The appointments are pending in over 50 government bodies such as women, finance and minority commissions.

The state government has so far made appointments in the Rajasthan public service commission (chairperson and members); Rajasthan state information commission (CIC and commissioners); and Rajasthan state commission for protection of child rights.

These selections had not gone down well with many Congress leaders who conveyed their displeasure to the leadership.

“There has already been much delay in political appointments but a few people appointed recently are not from the Congress and that has caused a lot of resentment within the rank and file,” said a Rajasthan Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.

“Those who have made no contribution to the party and society were picked for these posts,” he added.

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