Rajasthan missed out on a cabinet berth at the centre once again as Prime Minister Narendra Modi inducted two MPs as ministers of state on Sunday, drawing a sharp retort from the opposition Congress.
With the induction of Sanwar Lal Jat and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the state now has three ministers of state in Team Modi.
Union minister of state for chemicals and fertiliser Nihal Chand Meghwal – a four-time MP from Sri Ganganagar – was inducted into the ministry when Modi had assumed office in May.
Though the state BJP leadership was silent on its expectations, sources in the party said that there was hope that at least one of the new inductees would be given cabinet rank.
The feeling of being left out is more because the previous UPA government had four MPs from Rajasthan as cabinet ministers besides four as ministers of state, the sources added.
The opposition Congress was quick to the pounce on the “poor representation” of the state, finding a potent weapon to attack the ruling party.
“Despite winning all 25 Lok Sabha in Rajasthan none of the MPs has been given cabinet rank. During the previous UPA government, four MPs were given cabinet rank and four were made ministers of state from Rajasthan,” said Archana Sharma, the state Congress spokesperson.
“The BJP high command should have respected the mandate given by the people of Rajasthan”. During the tenure of UPA-II, the Congress had 20 Congress MPs from the state.
An aide of chief minister Vasundhara Raje said she was satisfied with state’s share in the expansion as the party high command was focusing on election-bound states.
Raje had reasons to feel satisfied with the elevation of Sanwar Lal Jat, 59, who was the minister of water resources minister before being elected to the Lok Sabha.
Sources said that Jat had contested the parliamentary polls at the insistence of Raje and gone on to defeat Congress stalwart and former Union minister Sachin Pilot from Ajmer.
Raje is understood to have pitched for Jat’s inclusion as he had sacrificed his ministerial berth in the state government.
On the other hand, Olympic silver medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, 44, was rewarded for his clean image and also for the fact that he too had defeated former Union minister CP Joshi from Jaipur rural.
Prof Narayan Bareth, the dean of faculties at the Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication, said that the BJP has tried to “balance caste equations by including a Dalit, Jat and Rajput each in the central ministry”.