The AICC has made is clear that CM Gehlot cannot delay indefinitely
The turmoil in the ruling Congress in Punjab, leading to the appointment of a new Chief Minister, has had a ripple effect in Rajasthan, where the promised Cabinet expansion and reshuffle as well as political appointments have been inordinately delayed. The rival factions in the Congress here expect that a power sharing arrangement will be worked out soon, after the Punjab episode.
The camps led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot have been at loggerheads for more than a year, though Mr. Gehlot seems to have control over the ruling party with the majority of MLAs being in his support. The Pilot camp, however, feeling more confident after the developments in Punjab, expects a decisive move by the high command in Rajasthan as well.
Also Read: Congress leadership working to unite rival Rajasthan factions
Mr. Gehlot, who has so far refused to act under any pressure for making the changes, is likely to soften his stance after an unambiguous statement made by AICC general secretary Ajay Maken that the roadmap in the State was ready. The delay in Cabinet expansion, in which Mr. Pilot’s supporters may be accommodated, was attributed to Mr. Gehlot’s ill health — he recently underwent an angioplasty.
Mr. Pilot, who was sacked both as the Deputy CM and the Pradesh Congress president after his rebellion in July last year, has been repeatedly expressing the hope that the party’s central leadership would take steps to address the issues raised by him. After the Punjab episode, the MLAs of his camp have once again raised the demand that the party fulfil the promises made to him.
Sachin meets Rahul
Mr. Pilot reportedly met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi over the week-end and had a detailed discussion. On the other hand, the State government’s decision to transfer 25 IAS officers, including two District Collectors, late on Saturday night was seen as a move for political management ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle.
Sikar-based political analyst Ashfaq Kayamkhani said on Monday that Mr. Gehlot would this time be forced to abide by the high command’s dictat, failing which a Punjab-style scenario could be repeated in Rajasthan.
“Mr. Gehlot cannot procrastinate indefinitely. He will have to act this time,” Mr. Kayamkhani said, adding that Mr. Maken’s role in Punjab was also meant to send across a message to Rajasthan, for which he was the AICC in-charge.
BJP State president Satish Poonia said Mr. Gehlot was worried about his own fate after Charanjit Singh Channi’s appointment as the Punjab Chief Minister. “Even the senior Congress leaders are disillusioned with the party. We don’t know whether the State Cabinet reshuffle will ever take place,” he said.
The State can have a maximum of 30 Ministers. There are at present 21 members in the Council of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, and nine slots are vacant.
Sunday’s resignation of the Chief Minister’s Officer on Special Duty Lokesh Sharma was also linked with the Punjab episode, as he had posted a tweet making an indirect criticism of the Congress high command over the change on leadership in the State. Mr. Sharma has been associated with Mr. Gehlot for over a decade and his resignation was yet to be accepted.
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