In a bid to improve the sagging image of his government, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot dropped five tainted ministers and inducted six new ministers on Wednesday.
Analysts say Gehlot resorted to social engineering keeping 2013 assembly polls in mind.
The much-awaited cabinet expansion is also being seen as the by-product of the Bhanwari Devi abduction case, which has fuelled oust-Gehlot cries from the BJP; and the Gopalgarh communal violence in September that left 10 people of the Meo (Muslim) community dead.
Gehlot inducted two Muslims, raising their strength by one in his team of 27. The CM, however, denied the shuffle was to appease any community.
“I have not tried to focus on any community and induction of ministers should not be linked with any incidents,” he said.
Reacting on the change, former CM and leader of opposition BJP’s Vasundhara Raje said, “Nothing will happen with the resignations of a few tainted ministers. Whole of Gehlot government should go.”
The interests of the Jat community have been protected, as the number of Jat ministers has gone up from three to six. The sacking of Mahipal Maderna, an accused in the Bhanwari Devi case; and resignation of Ramlal Jat, allegedly involved in the death of Bhilwara Dairy chairman’s wife, had created resentment in the community.
The removal of the five ministers — BL Meghwal, Pramod Jain Bhaya, Ramlal Jat, BL Jatav and Golma Devi — was on the cards, but retention of others has not gone down well. Home minister Shanti Dhariwal, food and civil supplies minister
Babulal Nagar and cooperatives minister Parsadi Lal Meena have become embarrassments for the state government.