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Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle put off again as Gehlot, Pilot stand off continues

Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken with Rajasthan Congress President Govind Singh Dotasra and KC Venugopal speak to media person at Pradesh Congress Committee Headquarter in Jaipur, Sunday, July 25, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The expectations of an early Cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan turned out to be a damp squib with senior Congress leaders on Sunday leaving the decision to the party’s central leadership. Two emissaries from New Delhi could not convince Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in favour of making an immediate power sharing arrangement with the rival faction.

AICC general secretaries Ajay Maken and K.C. Venugopal, who arrived here on Saturday to bring about reconciliation within the ruling party, left on Sunday afternoon after meeting the Pradesh Congress Committee office-bearers. In their interaction with Mr. Gehlot earlier, the latter reportedly refused to act under any pressure while making the political appointments.

An uneasy Mr. Maken told journalists outside the PCC headquarters that there was “no conflict” among the Congress leaders in the State and all of them had left the final decision about the Cabinet expansion to the party high command. Mr. Maken is scheduled to return to Jaipur on July 28 for a two-day meeting with party MLAs on the functioning of the government as well as the party organisation.

Former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, who along with 18 MLAs had staged a rebellion against Mr. Gehlot in July last year, was among the leaders who met the two AICC general secretaries at the PCC headquarters. A large number of Mr. Pilot’s supporters gathered outside the building and raised slogans in his support, besides demanding that the MLAs loyal to him be accommodated in the government.

The Pilot camp has been issuing statements demanding power sharing between Mr. Gehlot and the disgruntled group of MLAs. According to Congress insiders, Mr. Gehlot suggested to the two emissaries that they seek the opinion of all MLAs through a “broad consultation” about new appointments to the Council of Ministers and nominations to various boards and corporations.

Former Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot in his Assembly constituency, Tonk, after meeting the AICC leaders in Jaipur on Sunday.

Former Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot in his Assembly constituency, Tonk, after meeting the AICC leaders in Jaipur on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

 

Both Mr. Maken and Mr. Venugopal are members of a committee appointed by the AICC last year to address the issues raised by Mr. Pilot and evolve a compromise in the party's State unit. Mr. Venugopal is also a Rajya Sabha member elected from Rajasthan.

Mr. Pilot left for his Assembly constituency, Tonk, after meeting the two leaders and met a cross section of people in the town, situated 100 km away from Jaipur. Mr. Pilot refused to comment on the possible Cabinet expansion.

 

Mr. Pilot, who was sacked both as the Deputy CM and the PCC president during the political crisis, had recently indicated that he was in touch with the central leadership and was hopeful that the Congress would shortly take steps to address the issues raised by him. The MLAs of his camp have also been demanding that the party fulfil the promises made to him.

The State can have a maximum of 30 Ministers. There are at present 21 members in the Council of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, and nine slots are vacant.


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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 11:17:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-cabinet-reshuffle-put-off-again-as-gehlot-pilot-stand-off-continues/article35525943.ece

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