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Monday, December 06, 2021

New-look Rajasthan Cabinet soon: Senior ministers to be out

'Almost half of the Cabinet will be new. It will be a major reshuffle,' a senior Congress functionary said. At present the Gehlot ministry has 21 ministers. Nine ministerial posts have been lying vacant.

Written by Hamza Khan , Manoj C G | Jaipur, New Delhi |
Updated: November 12, 2021 7:40:07 am
Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan cabinet reshuffle, Ashok Gehlot government, Ashok Gehlot Sonia Gandhi meeting, Congress leadersRajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Congress leader Sachin Pilot (File/Express photo by Rohit Jain)

The Congress central leadership has decided to implement the ‘one-man, one-post’ principle in Rajasthan which will see the exit of ministers Raghu Sharma, Harish Choudhary and Govind Singh Dotasra from the Ashok Gehlot government in the Cabinet reshuffle which will take place after November 14.

With the exit of the three, the Gehlot Cabinet will have 12 new faces. “Almost half of the Cabinet will be new. It will be a major reshuffle,” a senior Congress functionary said. At present the Gehlot ministry has 21 ministers. Nine ministerial posts have been lying vacant.

Chief Minister Gehlot met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on Thursday.

Dotasra, the Minister for School Education and Tourism, is president of the Rajasthan Congress unit. Health Minister Raghu Sharma was recently appointed AICC in-charge of Gujarat. Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary is in charge of the Punjab Congress.

Sources said the party central leadership has factored in the changed numerical situation as also the factional equations while finalising the reshuffle. Four to five of the new ministers could be those MLAs who are loyal to Sachin Pilot, a leader said.

By snatching a seat from the BJP and retaining the one that it had in the recent by-elections, the Congress has crossed the majority mark on its own in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly. The party now has 102 MLAs. Adding to that are the six BSP MLAs who had joined the party. The Gehlot government also has the support of 12 Independents.

Gehlot had met AICC general secretary in charge of organisation, K C Venugopal, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and AICC in-charge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken on Wednesday. Pilot had met Venugopal Wednesday.

After meeting Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot said, “The high command will decide as to when a reshuffle has to take place. We have left it up to the high command. Whatever was inquired from me about Rajasthan, I have briefed. Our general secretary Ajay Maken keeps visiting (Rajasthan) and he has all the (necessary) information. I hope that he talks with Congress president, with Rahul Gandhi…all the conversations that have taken place, they’ll make a decision on that basis and it will be acceptable to all of us.”

Following his meeting, Gehlot returned to Jaipur on Thursday afternoon.

About his Wednesday meeting with Gehlot, Venugopal and Priyanka, Maken had said that they discussed the “political situation and roadmap for the 2023 elections” in Rajasthan. Importantly, Maken also said that “confusion on a lot of issues has been cleared”. He, however, evaded a question on when the Cabinet expansion will be done.

After meeting Venugopal, Pilot had said that the Cabinet expansion should be done “very soon, as elections in the state are just 22-23 months away”.

“I kept my view on the political situation in the state (before Venugopal). We have been talking of change since the beginning, wherever necessary. And it has been about three years (since the formation of the Congress government). The workers who sacrificed everything for Congress, who played a important role in formation of government… I demanded that they be given respect,” Pilot said Wednesday.

On Thursday Pilot said he believes that decisions regarding “the organisation and the government will be taken very soon. The committee constituted by Sonia Gandhi ji about 1.25 years ago has completed its task and I believe we will soon be in a situation to make a decision.”

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