All ministers of Gehlot cabinet resign ahead of Rajasthan Congress meeting on Sunday.
New Delhi: All ministers in the Rajasthan Council of Ministers tendered their resignations on Saturday. This came ahead of the meeting of the Rajasthan Congress on Sunday. Rajasthan Congress in-charge Ajay Maken on Friday had said that three ministers of the state Cabinet have written to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, expressing their desire to step down from their posts. These include state education minister Govind Singh Dotasra, Medical and Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma and Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary, he had said. Cabinet reshuffle in Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government is on the cards. The oath-taking ceremony of new ministers in the Rajasthan government will take place at the Governor’s house on Sunday at 4 pm, according to sources.
In the much-awaited cabinet rejig, Gehlot will try to ensure that MLAs, including independents who backed his government during the crisis, are not displeased and dissatisfied. While carrying out the cabinet rejig, the CM will keep in mind the Rajya Sabha election of next year and the Assembly polls of 2023. What has to be kept in mind is that for one Rajya Sabha seat next year, independent MLAs’ support will be needed for the Congress. So, that strategy will reflect in the reshuffle. Gehlot will also make long-pending political appointments. This is going to be the first rejig of Gehlot’s Cabinet after he came to power in December 2018.
The high command has already given him the green light for the exercise. However, it is also challenging for the Chief Minister to strike a balance while carrying out the reshuffle. Needless to say, the Congress cannot take the risk of displeasing the MLAs, particularly the BSP legislators who joined the party at a time when the Gehlot government was in crisis. The Congress knows how important the independent legislators will be during the next year’s Rajya Sabha election because the fate of one seat will depend on them. Four Rajya Sabha seats from Rajasthan quota will be among all 75 seats of around a dozen states for which elections will be held in 2022. What makes these elections quite significant is that the BJP’s seats are likely to reduce, while the Congress’ strength will increase. Hence, the BJP will be short of the majority mark in Rajya Sabha. With this situation in mind, the BJP will keep a close watch on every single state so as to manage some votes for its candidates. Rajasthan will be one of them. As per the strength in Assembly, Congress is set to get two seats, while the BJP has one seat in its kitty from Rajasthan. There will be a fight for one seat for which independents will play a crucial role. BJP will be facing losses in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The reason why the fight for Rajasthan’s one seat is important for Congress is that the BJP has allegedly been behind the move to destabilize the Gehlot government once, and the adversaries are still active and may be looking for an opportunity. So, the CM has not only the challenge of pleasing all but also to win that one RS seat. The term of several Congress stalwarts in RS is ending next year.
Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi are presently the Rajya Sabha members from Rajasthan quota. Rest of the seven seats from the state are held by the BJP. Congress will try to win three out of four seats falling vacant to take its strength to six. So, Gehlot’s strategy to win the legislators’ support will be watched out for.
Meanwhile, the faction of former Dy CM Sachin Pilot is also eyeing the cabinet berths. Only a few MLAs are left in the Sachin camp. But the Congress would not allow a situation to emerge where the BJP could get any chance. Observers believe that BJP may try to manage votes if it gets a chance during the Rajya Sabha polls. To recall, the attempts were made to topple the Gehlot government during the Rajya Sabha election of 2020. Though Gehlot managed to save his government, the tussle within the party is still on. But the opponents are not that strong now. With this in view, Gehlot is likely to give more importance to BSP MLAs who defected to Congress.
The Rajya Sabha election of next year will continue to be interesting. Senior Congress leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma are expecting to get Rajya Sabha berth from Rajasthan.
Leaders such as state in charge Ajay Maken and Randeep Singh Surjewala are also understood to be lobbying for the same.
There is also discussion to shift Sachin to central politics, but it will be interesting to see in what capacity he is moved. Another big name is that of former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar who also wants to be sent to RS from Rajasthan. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee wanted to allocate Rajya Sabha seat to Meira Kumar, but Rahul Gandhi did not allow that to happen. So, Meira Kumar is said to be a strong contender from Rajasthan.