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Rajasthan CM’s advisers not to get ministerial status

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot   | Photo Credit: PTI

The ruling Congress in Rajasthan is finding it difficult to appoint MLAs as advisers to the Chief Minister as well as Parliamentary Secretaries after the Opposition BJP took the issue to the Raj Bhawan through a memorandum. Governor Kalraj Mishra has sought a clarification on the issue of “office of profit”.

The six advisers, appointed after the expansion and reshuffle of the Council of Ministers on November 21, and the Parliamentary Secretaries likely to be appointed shortly may neither get the Ministerial status nor any perks. With this, the Congress is set to face the ire of its legislators who could not be accommodated in the Cabinet expansion, which took it to its full strength of 30.

Those appointed to the position of Chief Minister’s advisers are Congress MLAs Jitendra Singh, Rajkumar Sharma and Danish Abrar, and independent MLAs Babulal Nagar, Sanyam Lodha and Ramkesh Meena. The Congress enjoys support of 12 out of the 13 independent legislators who had shown solidarity with the State Government during last year's political crisis.

The BJP has raised a strong objection to the appointments. Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore submitted a memorandum to the Governor last week alleging that the posts of advisers were unconstitutional as they were offices of profit.

In an attempt to avoid the charge of flouting the law on holding of office of profit and bypassing the constitutional provisions, the State Government has made up its mind not to give the perks of office to the MLAs. While Article 191(1)(a) of the Constitution provides for disqualification of legislators on holding any office of profit, a Supreme Court ruling also prohibits the MLAs from holding the offices of Ministerial status beyond the Cabinet strength.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said here on Sunday that he was only taking advice from the six MLAs without giving them any new status. “I can appoint an MLA, MP, journalist, intellectual or litterateur as my adviser. That is my prerogative... Nobody can question the CM for doing this,” he said.

Accusing the Opposition of raking up a “needless controversy”, Mr. Gehlot said the State Government had not issued any order granting any benefit to the Chief Minister's advisers and did not intend to do so if the Parliamentary Secretaries were appointed in the near future. “We are running a Government... We know what the Supreme Court has ruled,” he said.

In Jaya Bachchan vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court had held in 2006 that if the “pecuniary gain” was receivable in connection with an office, then it became an office of profit, irrespective of whether such pecuniary gain was actually received or not.

The controversy may also make an impact on the impending appointments to various boards, corporations and autonomous institutions in the State, in which a large number of posts are lying vacant. Besides, the Congress will be careful in carrying out reshuffle in the party organisation at the State and district levels, for which it will keep in mind the caste and regional equations.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 8:41:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-cms-advisers-not-to-get-ministerial-status/article37761293.ece

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