Nearly two years after the Congress government in Rajasthan came into power, political appointments to the posts of heads or members of various boards, commissions or corporations continue to remain stuck.
While the opposition BJP has alleged that the tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot is responsible for the delay in appointments, several such bodies continue to function without any head or chairperson. In most cases, bureaucrats have been given additional charge of such bodies.
Earlier this month, during their Rajasthan visit, members of the National Commission for Women (NCW) had launched a scathing attack on the Gehlot government and had said that despite being directed by the NCW last year to constitute the state women’s commission, the Rajasthan government has not done so.
At present, four posts including that of the chairperson and three members in the Rajasthan State Commission for Women (RSCW) are lying vacant. The tenure of the last chairperson expired in October 2018. Despite the Congress being voted to power in December 2018, no appointments have been made to the posts.
Apart from the RSCW, some of the other major such bodies where political appointments are yet to be made include the state finance commission, minorities commission, SC commission and Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC).
“There are more than 30 such boards, commissions and corporations in the state where the posts of head and members are political in nature. But at present most of them are vacant. Generally, such appointments are those leaders in the party who couldn’t become MLA/MPs but nevertheless are dedicated workers or subscribe to the party ideology. But it is important to at least fill vacancies in crucial bodies such as the women’s commission which have judicial powers and ensures effective monitoring of cases pertaining to crime against women,” said a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
Suman Sharma, BJP leader and former chairperson of RSCW said that in absence of a chairperson, the functioning of the commission is affected, compromising the monitoring of issues affecting women in the state.
“The Gehlot government has been incomplete since day one. Due to infighting between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, the women of Rajasthan are suffering…Political appointments in many boards and commissions are stuck because the government never came into work mode and has been busy in infighting. Neither factions could agree on one candidate,” said Sharma.
“My tenure came to an end in October 2018 and since then the RSCW has been functioning without a chairperson. As a result, the working of the commission is severely affected as one can’t issue summons properly or take cognizance of a case unless without the full quorum of the chairperson and members,” she added.
However, a senior leader close to the Gehlot camp who didn’t wish to be named said that it has been a tradition in Rajasthan by subsequent governments to make the political appointments in the their second or third year as some of these posts have a term of three years, which would mean that the tenure of the head would run concurrently with the term of the government by the time it completes five years.
“There are many such posts, from small to large which are presently vacant. When a party forms the government, its workers have the hope that they will be rewarded. Whoever is appointed should be deserving of the post. One of our demands because of which we went (to Delhi) was that the people who stood by the party when it was in opposition, because of whom the government could be formed, should be rewarded. If such people don’t have power then how will they connect more workers? I hope that the political appointments are filled soon,” said Congress MLA from Vallabnagar, Udaipur, Gajendra Singh Shaktawat, one of the 18 Pilot loyalist legislators, who had sided with the former deputy chief minister during the political crisis in Rajasthan earlier this year.
Congress leaders termed the infighting allegations as baseless.
“The BJP should tell that during their tenure how many appointments took place and when. It is a matter of strategy when appointments are to be made or not. Several boards were not even constituted during their time. It takes time because there is a system in place for this wherein the high command is also involved along with the state leadership and workers. A coordination is needed to be achieved for this. We have to ensure representation of all areas and sections and leaders can’t be ignored. The allegations of infighting are baseless,” said Congress MLA and Chief Whip in the Assembly Mahesh Joshi , who is known to be close to Chief Minister Gehlot.
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