GEHLOT UPSTAGES RIVALS, EMERGES STRONGER AFTER CABINET REJIG - The Daily Guardian
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GEHLOT UPSTAGES RIVALS, EMERGES STRONGER AFTER CABINET REJIG

15 ministers inducted; Gandhi family gave free hand to CM; Pilot ‘sidelined’.

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Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot

In what was a clear message to his rival camp, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s stamp was obvious on the much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle that took place on Sunday in Rajasthan. Two important messages were loud and clear. One, Ashok Gehlot is the strongest leader of the Congress in the state. Two, the Gandhi family continues to trust Ashok Gehlot just as earlier.

In the reshuffled Cabinet, Gehlot has given ministerial berths only to those leaders who stood by his government at the time of crisis last year, whether they belong to his rival camp or his group. Media speculation that the Congress’ Delhi leadership had played a decisive role in the selection of ministers and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had dictated the high command’s wish-list to the CM turned out to be untrue. After the ministers’ names were announced, it became clear that the high command had reposed their trust in the Chief Minister, giving him a free hand to pick and drop leaders for the rejig.

The internal tussle of the Congress party delayed the Cabinet expansion-reshuffle. Chief Minister Gehlot carried out the exercise in such a way that there could not be any controversy. He also ensured that nobody was displeased.

However, former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot appears to have been isolated in state politics, no matter what claims he makes after the reshuffle. That Sachin will be given any other responsibility is also doubtful. In fact, Gehlot through his trademark politics upstaged his rivals completely. That all went well peacefully is attributable to the CM’s effective coordination with the state in-charge Ajay Maken and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Govind Singh Dotasra. To recall last year’s development, Gehlot had emerged stronger sailing through the crisis resulting from the revolt by around a dozen MLAs under Pilot’s leadership. They tried to topple the government allegedly with the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party. CM Gehlot not only saved his government but also tightened his hold on the party thereafter. He was given more importance during various consultations within the party. It was Gehlot who defended the Gandhi family when the disgruntled leaders targeted them in the past. But his detractors used the media to allege that he was in trouble. Attempts were made to destabilize Gehlot even during the Punjab crisis. The high command did not, however, heed all that misinformation campaign. Rather, evidence of bargaining for dislodging the government was sent to the high command. Subsequently, the high command gave Gehlot a free hand to tackle the situation. After recovering from Covid, Gehlot started taking significant decisions. He led the party to victory in the recently held byelections. For the first time, the BJP faced such a terrible defeat in the state, coming to third and fourth position. Gehlot gained political strength from all this.

Working on another strategy, Gehlot then reined in his rivals, and started attacking the BJP and the Central government. He remained aggressive against the Narendra Modi government. He also hit the streets as part of the party programme highlighting the issues of price rise, farmers’ problems, etc.

After consultation with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot with her consent carried out the reshuffle and made political appointments. He accommodated everyone representing all significant sections, keeping in view the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. He also adjusted leaders from the Dalit, Backward, Jat and Brahmin communities. He gave opportunities to women as well. All this was done by the CM as part of his strategy for the 2023 Assembly elections in Rajasthan. The Congress will fight the next elections with the team in place.

15 MINISTERS INDUCTED

In the Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle, as many as 15 ministers—11 of Cabinet rank and four Ministers of State—were inducted on Sunday afternoon.

The ministers were administered the oath of office by Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra at the Raj Bhavan in Jaipur. The 11 Cabinet ministers are Hemaram Choudhary, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, Ramlal Jat, Mahesh Joshi, Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Meena, Mamta Bhupesh Bairwa, Bhajanlal Jatav, Tikaram Juli, Govind Ram Meghwal and Shakuntala Rawat. The Ministers of State are Zahida Khan, Brijendra Singh Ola, Rajendra Gudda and Murari Lal Meena.

The cabinet reshuffle took place after a series of high-level meetings of Gehlot and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot with the Congress high command in the national capital in the past few weeks.

Notably, Sachin Pilot’s “loyalist” MLAs, Hemaram Choudhary, Murari Lal Meena, Zahida Khan, Rajendra Gudda, and Brijendra Singh Ola have been accommodated in the Gehlot Cabinet.

Rajasthan Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra on Saturday shared a list of 15 MLAs who will take oath on Sunday and informed that three ministers of state will be elevated to cabinet rank.

Pilot expressed his satisfaction over the move and stated that the inclusion of four Dalit ministers in the Cabinet has sent out a positive message about the party and the state government.

He also asserted that “there are no factions in the party and the decision of Cabinet reshuffle has been taken together.”

Ahead of the reshuffle, all ministers of Rajasthan submitted their resignations to the Chief Minister on Saturday. The cabinet reshuffle was expected for a long time after Pilot had rebelled against Gehlot in July last year. Following the rebellion, Sachin Pilot was stripped of the posts of state Deputy Chief Minister and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief. His loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena were also removed from their ministerial posts. After the Gandhi family’s intervention, Pilot agreed to work for the party. A committee was also set up under state Congress in-charge Ajay Maken to look into the issues raised by Pilot and his camp.

This is the first Cabinet reshuffle of the Gehlot government since it came to power in December 2018. Rajasthan will go for the Assembly polls in 2023.

Also on Sunday, Gehlot said that the Congress party would once again emerge victorious in the 2023 Assembly polls in Rajasthan and form government. “We will all unite and take the policy, ideology and programmes of Congress to the common people under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and win the 2023 assembly polls on the issue of development and form the government again,” Gehlot tweeted.

In another tweet, he wished all the MLAs taking oath as ministers and said that the government has provided sensitive, transparent, accountable governance to the people and has taken the state to the path of development despite the adverse circumstances. “During our term, people have put a stamp of approval on our governance by giving victory to the Congress party in various by-elections and local bodies elections. We all have to maintain this trust of the public in the times to come. For this, the work has to be continued with full hard work and dedication,” he added in another tweet.

WITH AGENCY INPUTS

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