Selja meets Gehlot, fuels speculation over Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle

Express News Service

JAIPUR: The long-pending demands of Cabinet reshuffle and political appointments in Rajasthan have turned into a major headache for the Congress high command as the final formula for the move is yet to be decided. 

The reshuffling in the Ashok Gehlot cabinet was widely expected to happen by August 15. The delay has led to unease and restlessness in both Sachin Pilot and Gehlot camps. Though Congress leaders are claiming that ‘all is well’ in the state unit, the cabinet reshuffle has become a really tough exercise for the party. 

Sources say that the Pilot camp has asked for six ministers to be made from the faction. They said besides the three ministers, who were ousted during the Pilot-led revolt last year, Sachin Pilot has demanded a total of six cabinet berths for his loyal MLAs. However, Gehlot is unwilling to oblige and has given his consent for only three berths to the Pilot lobby. 

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Ever since the revolt last year when Pilot and his 18 loyal MLAs had stayed in Haryana for almost a month, the political uncertainty in Rajasthan has been continuing. Given the huge crisis, even the Congress High Command is wary of taking any step that may aggravate the tension between the Gehlot-Pilot camps. While the top leadership is keen to live up to the promises made to Sachin Pilot, it also does not wish to do anything that may anger Gehlot and his loyalists. As they search for a middle path, the entire exercise is getting delayed further.   

Currently, CM Gehlot is said to be not in favour of a major reshuffle in his cabinet. Sources say that major changes may not be seen in the first cabinet reshuffle and a maximum of three to five ministers can be inducted. A senior minister in the Gehlot cabinet, on condition of anonymity,  revealed: “Gehlot will decide the exact number of MLAs from the Pilot camp to be taken into the Cabinet. It’s only Gehlow who will finalise the names of the MLAs to be given ministerial berths. The CM is a close confidante of the Gandhi family and the party is not at all keen to embarrass him in any way. The expansion/reshuffle is getting delayed because Gehlot is not in favour of accepting the unreasonable demands of the pilot camp.” 

Congress insiders say that the decision on cabinet expansion/reshuffle will soon be taken by the party High Command. Meanwhile, AICC general secretary The party incharge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken said that it is for the party high command to decide the date for the cabinet reshuffle. “Some may say it’s too late, but it is our party’s strategy. Soon the decision of the high command will be known to everyone,” he said. 

Maken claimed that everything is under control and work on the issue is under process. As Rajasthan is a major state, regional and caste balance has also to be seen, he added.