The Congress government in Rajasthan has appointed two Bahujan Samaj Party-turned-Congress MLAs as heads of State bodies in a move perceived as an attempt to placate them ahead of the 2023 Assembly election. Discontent was brewing among the six MLAs elected in the 2018 Assembly poll on BSP ticket, who merged with the ruling Congress in 2019.
While Nagar (Bharatpur) MLA Wajib Ali was appointed chairperson of the State Food Commission, Tijara (Alwar) MLA Sandeep Yadav was appointed chairperson of the Bhiwadi Urban Infrastructure Development Board. The orders, issued late on Monday, stated that the new chairpersons would not get salary, allowances or pecuniary benefits.
The turncoat MLAs had been complaining for several months that the promises made to them were not fulfilled. The legislators had supported Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot during the political crisis in 2020 caused by the rebellion of then Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and voted for the Congress candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections held in June this year.
One of the six MLAs, Rajendra Gudha, was appointed a Minister of State during the Cabinet reshuffle in November 2021 and three others were accommodated in different Boards and Commissions. However, Mr. Ali and Mr. Yadav were not given any position either in the government or in any of the statutory bodies.
Mr. Ali had recently expressed his anguish against the Ministers and bureaucrats, while complaining that they were not accessible to the MLAs and the works of his constituency were not being done. Mr. Yadav shot off a letter to the Chief Minister, accusing the Congress of giving “step-motherly treatment” to the BSP-turned-Congress legislators.
Among the six MLAs, Deepchand Kheria was earlier made deputy chairperson of the Farmers’ Commission, Joginder Singh Awana chairperson of Devnarayan Board and Lakhan Singh Meena chairperson of Dang Development Board.
Minister of State for Soldiers’ Welfare Mr. Gudha, who is the most vocal among the BSP turncoats, had said that they did not fit in the Congress culture and the attitude of the Cabinet Ministers towards them was “unfair”, even though he had convinced his fellow legislators to join the Congress on behalf of Mr. Gehlot.
The latest round of political appointments will effectively remove discontent in the group of the six MLAs, which will benefit the ruling Congress in the run-up to the Assembly poll. It may also pave the way for appointments to the vacant posts in several boards, language akademis and Urban Improvement Trusts as well as the organisational posts in the Pradesh Congress.