Express News Service
JAIPUR: After settling the rift in the Punjab unit, the Congress High Command is all set to resolve the tussle in the Rajasthan Congress. AICC general secretaries K C Venugopal and Ajay Maken who visited the Rajasthan Congress office on Sunday clearly signalled that the issue of cabinet reshuffle and political appointments in the state would soon be decided by the party’s central leadership.
Venugopal and Maken held a meeting with PCC president Govind Sigh Dotasra state ministers, MLAs and office bearers of the party in Jaipur. The meeting was also atteded by former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and his group of MLAs who demanded that they be accommodated in the government and various party positions. A number of Pilot supporters also shouted sloans outside the PCC office while the meeting was underway forcing the former deputy chief minister to send out some of his leaders to pacify them.
While the workers outside seemed in an aggressive mood, AICC general secretary Maken said all the leaders inside have unanimously left the decision of the cabinet reshuffle to the party high command. Though Maken did not disclose a date of the cabinet expansion, he told reporters, “I can say that there is no contradiction among the party leaders and they all have left the final decision about the cabinet expansion to the party high command.”
Venugopal, Maken and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot reportedly held detailed discussions about the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle and other political appointments, according to party sources. “We’re discussing the cabinet expansion, appointment of district and block-level chiefs of Congress and appointments in boards and corporations with our leaders. Everyone has said they would accept what leadership decides,” Maken told the media in Jaipur.
The’AICC general secretary incharge for Rajasthan also confirmed that he will be back later this month to take first-hand feedback from party MLAs. All Congress MLAs have been asked to be in Jaipur on July 28 and 29 for these one-on-one meetings with Maken and other senior leaders.
The Rajasthan impasse has been continuing ever since Sachin Pilot, along with 18 MLAs, had rebelled against the leadership of CM Ashok Gehlot last July. Though Pilot had returned to the party fold after Priyanka Gandhi’s intervention, his demands have been pending for almost a year. Last month, some MLAs from Pilot camp had said that the party should fulfil the promises made to Pilot. And in recent days, the demand for cabinet expansion and political appointments has gained considerable momentum.
The Rajasthan cabinet can have a maximum of 30 ministers but currently it has 21 members in the council of ministers, including the Chief Minister. Besides the nine slots that are vacant in the Gehlot ministry, several key appointments of office bearers in the state and district Congress units are also pending for a long time.