New Raj cabinet takes oath, Pilot camp gains

Jaipur Rajasthan governor Kalraj Mishra administered on Sunday the oath of office to 15 lawmakers as ministers in the Ashok Gehlot-led state government, the first major overhaul of the cabinet, a month before the Congress completes three years in office
Rajasthan CM Ashok Ghelot and Governor Kalraj Mishra with new cabinet ministers.(PTI)
Rajasthan CM Ashok Ghelot and Governor Kalraj Mishra with new cabinet ministers.(PTI)
Updated on Nov 22, 2021 01:59 AM IST
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BySachin Saini, Hindustan Times, Jaipur

Rajasthan governor Kalraj Mishra administered on Sunday the oath of office to 15 lawmakers as ministers in the Ashok Gehlot-led state government, the first major overhaul of the cabinet, a month before the Congress completes three years in office.

Of the 15 MLAs administered oath, 12 are were not in the council that resigned on Friday and three have been elevated to cabinet rank. The 15 include five lawmakers considered close to former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who rebelled against CM Gehlot in July 2020 before an uneasy truce came into effect.

All 20 ministers in the Gehlot cabinet tendered resignations on Saturday to pave way for the reshuffle. On Sunday, only three were dropped as they were not eligible for cabinet positions. Education minister Govind Singh Dotasra is state party chief; health minister Raghu Sharma and revenue minister Harish Chaudhary were made state in-charges for Gujarat and Punjab, respectively.

Of the remaining 17 ministers, three were elevated to Cabinet rank and 14 were retained. With the induction, the Cabinet has reached its maximum strength of 30 for a 200-member state assembly. Among the inductees were five Pilot loyalists including -- Vishwendra Singh and Ramesh Meena --- who were sacked from the cabinet after Pilot’s rebellion last year. Other Pilot loyalists inducted are Murari Meena, Brajendra Ola and Hemaram Choudhary.

Mamta Bhupesh, Bhajan Lal Jatav and Tika Ram Julee were promoted to cabinet rank. Four new MLAs were inducted as ministers of state including BSP leader-turned-Congress MLA Rajendra Gudha, who is considered close to CM Gehlot. Other ministers of state were – Zahida Khan, Brajendra Ola and Murari Lal Meena.

Of the 30 ministers, nine are from reserved SC/ST category and there are ministers from all prominent communities such as Gujjars, Jats and Rajputs. However, there are 12 districts without a minister while 14 out of 30 ministers are from four districts – Jaipur, Bharatpur, Dausa and Bikaner.

None of the independents supporting the government have found a place in the cabinet.

Congress leaders, wary of unease within the state unit, said the chief minister will appoint 15 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries and another seven as his advisers in the coming weeks. Some others could be appointed as head of commissions and boards, people aware of the matter said. “Everyone would get some important position in the government or the party,” a senior Congress leader said, after the oath taking ceremony, asking not to be named.

Before the oath taking ceremony, Gehlot addressed MLAs at state party office and said those who could not become ministers have no less roles. All India Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi said that those who keep patience get rewarded one day, one of the leaders aware of the meeting said.

The CM said ministers should meet people every day and that they have responsibilities towards the entire state and not just towards their constituencies.

Congratulating the new ministers, Gehlot tweeted: “Best wishes to all the MLAs who took oath as ministers of Rajasthan government today. In the last 35 months, our government has done the work of giving sensitive, transparent and accountable good governance to the state. Despite all the adverse circumstances, our government have taken the state forward on the path of development.”

Pilot expressed satisfaction over the new face of the council of ministers and said the rejig was after much brainstorming and discussions. “I am happy that the issues raised including increasing representation of Dalits have been addressed by the party leadership,” said Pilot.

“It has been tried that no one should be left out and the decision has been made keeping in view every section and regional point of view. The representation of SCs, women has increased manifold. This in itself is very important which we all should welcome,” he said.

The clamour for Cabinet reshuffle was growing for the last several months with the Pilot camp demanding they be accommodated.

Political analyst Manish Godha said the reshuffle is a balancing act to settle the conflict within the state Congress. The party has come up with a formula in which the dissident faction got five and Gehlot’s got ten berths. The party high command has maintained the supremacy of the CM but Gehlot failed to get some independent MLAs inducted. For Pilot’s camp, the return of two leaders – Ramesh Meena and Vishwendar Singh -- is a key win.

“Overall it is a good act of balancing ahead of the assembly polls in 2023,” said Godha.

Congress has 108 MLAs in the 200-member assembly. It also has the support of 12 out of 13 independent MLAs.

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ram Lal Sharma said Congress leaders making statements of unity was just a front and there were many developments behind closed doors. He said the party will face resentment from senior MLAs, who are sidelined and not inducted in the cabinet.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021