Selja meets Gehlot, fuels speculation over Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle

Express News Service
JAIPUR:  AICC’s troubleshooter-in-chief D K Shivakumar landed in Jaipur on Tuesday to iron out the wrinkles in the Cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan. Sources said that the reshuffle slated for August 5 is likely to get delayed as Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is reluctant to induct Sachin Pilot supporters into the Cabinet at the expense of MLAs, who helped him blunt the Congress former state unit chief’s rebellion in 2019.

Sources said Shivakumar held a meeting with Gehlot and in the evening left for Delhi. He is likely to apprise the high command of the situation in Rajasthan on Wednesday. With several rounds of discussions continuing between both the camps, the rejig of the Gehlot cabinet is likely to take a little longer.

Karnataka Congress chief Shivakumar’s visit follows Kumari Selja’s brief trip to Jaipur over the weekend. It was during Selja’s visit that speculation on problems surrounding the reshuffle started emerging. 

Amid demand for plum posts by Sachin Pilot supporters, sources said Gehlot was not ready to reconstitute the Cabinet, but expand it. Instead of dropping any of his existing ministers, Gehlot wants to add new faces from the Pilot camp at a time when the high command wants to sack the non-perfomers. 

Breaking this impasse would be the main agenda in Shivakumar’s meeting with Gehlot, sources said. However, Shivkumar refused to give details on his visit, saying it was a personal trip. Congress insiders say that Gehlot is agreeable to taking three ministers from the Pilot camp, but there is a dispute over who those three should be.

Recently, AICC General secretary K C Venugopal and state in-charge Ajay Maken had come to resolve this dispute, but were unsuccessful. Shivakumar in expected to come up with a new formula to break the impasse, Congress insiders said.  

Meanwhile, Gehlot loyalist Shanti Dhariwal, considered the number-two in the Cabinet, said: “Who is making changes in Rajasthan? The only thing that counts here is the view of Ashok Gehlot.”  The statement was widely viewed as the indication of Gehlot loyalists strongly resisting a wide-ranging reshuffle. Sources said that the MLAs support Gehlot’s stand that there should not be any reshuffle but only an expansion.