In a dismissive reaction to speculation that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is keen to appoint more deputies, Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said the state can have five of them as long as the law and order improves.
Gehlot and Pilot are often seen as rivals and the CM’s “plan” to appoint more deputy chief ministers is being seen as a move to cut his current deputy to size.
“If the law and order situation in the state can improve and the farm loan waiver can happen, then why only two? The state should have five deputy chief ministers,” Pilot said when asked that the CM is keen to appoint “one or two” more deputy chief ministers.
Pilot has remarked earlier as well on law and order in the state, and his comments have been seen as veiled criticism of the chief minister, who holds the home portfolio in his cabinet.
Pilot, who is the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president, however, said he does not know of any plan to appoint more deputy CMs.
“I am not aware of any such move in the Congress party. It depends on the party leadership,” he said.
“As a government, we ought to focus on delivering on the promises we made to the people of Rajasthan, and make that a priority, as we are accountable to the electorate,” he said.
There are reports that Gehlot could appoint two more deputy chief ministers in the state for balancing the caste arithmetic. But there is no official word on this from the government.
In the last year of his first term as chief minister, Gehlot had two deputy chief ministers — Kamla Beniwal from the influential Jat community and Banwarilal Bairwa from the Scheduled Castes.
There is some speculation that the Congress government could appoint a Jat leader as deputy chief minister ahead of the upcoming local bodies’ elections to counter the appointment of Satish Poonia as the state BJP president.
Gehlot and Pilot were locked in a contest for the post of chief minister in the state after assembly elections last year.