15 New Ministers To Take Oath Today In Ashok Gehlot’s Balancing Act

Ashok Gehlot’s cabinet currently has 20 ministers and there is room for 10 more (File)

Jaipur:
Five Sachin Pilot loyalists will be among the 30 ministers in Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s refreshed cabinet, it was revealed Saturday night. Mr Gehlot’s new-look cabinet will also have 15 new faces, four of whom will be junior ministers.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Of the five MLAs loyal to former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot – whose rebellion last year almost cost the Congress its government – Hemaram Choudhary, Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena will be sworn in as ministers. Brijendra Singh Ola and Murari Lal Meena will be sworn in as Ministers of State.

  2. Vishvendra Singh – a two-time MLA from Deeg-Kumher – and Ramesh Meena – the MLA from Sapotra – make a triumphant return to the Rajasthan cabinet after being sacked by Chief Minister Gehlot in July last year, along with Sachin Pilot. Mr Singh held the Tourism and Devasthan ministries and Mr Meena the Food and Consumer Affairs departments. Hemaram Choudhary is a six-term MLA from Gudamalani, and former Revenue Minister.

  3. The other new faces will be Mahendrajit Singh Malviya, Ramlal Jat, Mahesh Joshi, Mamta Bhupesh, Tikaram Julie, Bhajan Lal Jatav, Govind Ram Meghwal and Shakuntala Rawat. Zahida Khan and Rajendra Singh Gudha will be made Ministers of State.

  4. It is unclear what role Sachin Pilot will be given after the cabinet reshuffle. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reportedly want Mr Pilot to take charge of party affairs in Gujarat, ahead of elections in Prime Minister Modi’s home state next year. However, sources said Mr Pilot remains focused on Rajasthan, where he hopes to be made Chief Minister.

  5. The countdown to today’s reshuffle began with meetings between Mr Pilot and senior Congress leaders in Delhi, including Mr Gandhi, Mrs Gandhi Vadra and party chief Sonia Gandhi. Earlier this week Mr Pilot said he would like to see a mix of youth and experience – in the government and party leadership. Asked about his ambitions, he said he would do what the party asked.

  6. Meetings were also held between Chief Minister Gehlot and the party’s senior leaders. Mrs Gandhi Vadra was present at a meeting last week (Mr Gandhi was not) and the issue of a cabinet reshuffle and appointments to state corporations was high on the agenda, sources said.

  7. Mr Pilot – who led the rebellion against Mr Gehlot – has been waiting since then for the Chief Minister to accommodate his supporters in a revised cabinet. This was part of the deal struck by the Congress to avoid losing yet another state.

  8. Ahead of the announcement of the new names, three ministers set the ball rolling by submitting their resignations to Mr Gehlot. They were Harish Chaudhary, Raghu Sharma and Govind Dotsara. All three held cabinet posts and had organizational duties.

  9. All three quit citing the Congress’ ‘ek pad, ek vyakti’, or ‘one position, one person’, rule. Mr Chaudhary was Revenue minister and had been made party-in-charge for Punjab. Mr Sharma held multiple ministerial posts and had been made Gujarat-in-charge. Mr Dotasra was the Education Minister as well las the party’s state unit chief.

  10. Sachin Pilot – seen as leading the party’s revival in Rajasthan – was a contender for the Chief Minister’s post after the Congress’ 2018 win. But he was persuaded by Rahul Gandhi to take the job of Mr Gehlot’s deputy instead. The friction has continued since, and exploded last year after Mr Pilot and 18 MLAs broke ranks and camped out in Delhi.

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