In a show of solidarity in these days of turbulence for the Government, all members of the Rajasthan Council of Ministers submitted their resignation on Tuesday to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. With changes in the Cabinet overdue after the recent dismissal of the controversial Minister Mahipal Maderna and the weekend's resignation by Minister of State for Forests Ramlal Jat, the move is meant to facilitate Mr. Gehlot carrying out a major revamp of his team.
In all, 12 Cabinet Ministers and 11 Ministers of State put in their papers during a meeting of the Council of Ministers presided over by Mr. Gehlot at the Chief Minister's Office.
Rajasthan has a total of 26 Ministers including the Chief Minister and the resignations of two Ministers of State, Golma Devi and Ramlal Jat, are pending. Mr. Maderna was asked to quit in October while a Minister of State Amin Khan was made to step down a year back.
Though not part of the Council, three of the six Parliamentary Secretaries -- Giriraj Malinga, Ramkesh Meena and Ramesh Meena -- too submitted their resignations. Tourism Minister Bina Kak did not attend the meeting as she was reportedly out of station.
The day's development will pave the way for the first major reshuffle of the Gehlot Ministry which completes three years in office in December.
While Mr. Gehlot was not available for comment, Minister for Home, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Shanti Dhariwal said the “collective action” by the Council of Ministers was an expression of confidence in the leadership of the Chief Minister. “This is for strengthening the hands of the Chief Minister. Now he will be free to carry out changes, be it expansion or reshuffle,” he said talking to newspersons after the meeting.
“We have done it to strengthen the hands of the Chief Minister,” Mr. Dhariwal said. Asked about the next step, he only said the changes would take place in the near future. “Now the Chief Minister is going to Jodhpur (to attend the funeral of senior leader Keth Singh Rathore who passed away in the morning),” Mr. Dhariwal informed. Prior to the handing over of the resignations, the Council of Ministers observed a two-minute silence paying homage to Mr. Rathore.
Mr. Dhariwal hinted that all of them had handed over their individual resignations. “I gave my resignation first and others followed. There is no crisis in the government. This is only a reiteration of our faith in Mr. Gehlot. He may drop some of the Ministers, may induct others and the like…” Mr. Dhariwal said.
Raje not impressed
However, the move did not seemingly impress former Chief Minister and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje. “This is nothing,” she said in Ajmer reacting to the development. Her hint was that it was Mr. Gehlot who should have submitted his resignation.
Though there was some talk about Mr. Gehlot proceeding to Delhi soon after for consultations with senior party leaders – the PCC president Chandra Bhan happens to be in Delhi -- he returned to the State Capital in the evening after attending the funeral.