Rajasthan: Ahead of Cabinet reshuffle, Bhaya meeting Pilot creates buzz
The infighting in Rajasthan Congress seems unending. After a Congress MLA wrote to chief minister Ashok Gehlot demanding removal of an unnamed corrupt minister from the Cabinet, mines minister Pramod Jain Bhaya met former state party chief Sachin Pilot and then Gehlot on Wednesday, leading to speculations that all was not well in the Cabinet which is expecting a reshuffle in some days.
Bhaya was believed to be made a minister from Pilot’s quota in Gehlot’s Cabinet but stayed with the latter even after Pilot’s rebellion along with 21 other MLAs.
On Wednesday morning, around 11.30 am, Bhaya reached Pilot’s residence in Civil Lines and had a closed-door meeting till 12.15pm. He is probably the first Cabinet minister, who met Pilot, after the Congress high command was able to end Pilot’s rebellion mid-August by assuring him that his concerns would be addressed.
Outside Pilot’s residence, Bhaya said he was visiting Pilot as he hadn’t met the leader for a long time. “When two politicians meet, they obviously talk politics,” he said.
Thereafter, Bhaya met Gehlot at his residence at around 2pm. The meeting lasted for about half an hour.
On September 14, a letter by Congress MLA Bharat Singh had circulated on social media, in which he demanded removal of a minister (without naming anyone), calling that minister a mafia of corruption. Singh, member of state wildlife board, is considered close to Gehlot.
A senior leader familiar with the development, requesting anonymity, said both the MLA and Bhaya come from Hadoti region of Rajasthan and have not been on the best of terms.
The leader said Bhaya’s meeting with Pilot should be seen in the light of Bharat Singh’s letter and that the minister’s performance was discussed at meetings with party high command recently.
“As a reshuffle is expected soon, Bhaya’s meeting the two leaders could save his ministerial berth,” the leader said.
Bhaya refused to comment on Singh’s letter, saying he was a senior and respectable leader. “He can have his personal opinion. I do not want to comment. In democracy, all are free to write,” he said.
A second Congress leader, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Certainly, the meeting has it political meanings, especially after the month-long political crisis. A clear line between Gehlot and Pilot camp is drawn, things might look settled but differences are very much there, and amid this, the meeting has created a buzz of reshuffle.”
Finding an opportunity to attack the Gehlot-led government, BJP leaders quoted Singh’s letter to claim that corruption was prevalent in his Cabinet. Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tweeted, “It seems that part-2 of the film nakara-nikama by the Chief Minister is going to be released soon.”
Reacting to Shekhawat’s tweet, Independent MLA and Gehlot loyalist Sanyam Lodha asked who the big brother had chosen for part two of film nakara-nikama. Naming three BJP leaders, he tweeted that they had played a key role in nakara-nikama part-I. “Now tell who the mota bhai (big brother) has chosen for part-II,” he tweeted.
Political analyst Narayan Bareth said Congress is one party that faces such issues whenever it is in power. Earlier, there were no challenges but they are a serious concern and they should keep their house in order. “In every party there are rivalries, in Congress, it is out in the open whereas in BJP, it is behind close doors. They haven’t learnt how to run an organisation, especially when they have an opponent like (PM) Modi,” he said.
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