Rajasthan cabinet rejig only after nod from Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
Will former Congress president Rahul Gandhi make major changes in the party unit and cabinet in Rajasthan? The statements made recently by Ajay Maken, AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, have led to speculation that big changes may be carried out in the state.
The big question is whether this will happen in August or not. Earlier, cabinet reshuffle was expected in July, but it was deferred due to long sessions of consultation with legislators. Maken may have claimed that his decision will be final, but the green light from Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi is mandatory. Both the leaders do not take any decision in a hurry. Congress leadership takes a decision only when elections are near. Punjab and Uttarakhand are the latest glaring examples of this. Similarly, decisions regarding organizational matters for Gujarat are yet to be taken. Gujarat will be going to polls next year.
So, there are doubts about an early decision for Rajasthan as well. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has already said that a final call on reshuffle will be taken by Sonia Gandhi. What is suggested is that now a final decision regarding expansion could be taken only after Gehlot meets Sonia. Nobody knows when the meeting will take place. Maken will return to Delhi from Jaipur, where he will submit his report to the high command, and only then will come a decision. However, Maken has claimed that whatever he says will be final. Observers feel that it will be a new development if Maken could implement his decisions. What he did in Jaipur over the last three days was considered to be a new beginning. He consulted so many leaders and met 115 MLAs individually. Maken said that all were happy with the government’s performance. What the government in Rajasthan did in over two years was not done in the last 70 years, said Maken. Does it mean that there is no need for the party to do anything in Rajasthan if so much has already been done there? This is being asked after Maken’s comments.
Maken also said that several ministers have expressed desire to work for the party organisation. He gave his own example saying that Manmohan Singh had relieved him of ministry and given him party responsibility in 2013. What is reality is that leaders normally don’t prefer party posts over ministerial assignments.
Over a dozen independents and other legislators who defected from BSP to Congress are waiting for ministerial posts for over two years now. Several MLAs who are loyalists of Sachin Pilot are also expecting to be inducted in the cabinet. Over a dozen ministers will have to be removed if all these legislators have to be accommodated. But the task is difficult. Maken may have convinced some ministers to quit and join organizational posts, but some of them may express displeasure if asked to step down. Senior minister Raghu Sharma has already hinted at this, rejecting the media reports about his exit from the cabinet.
Meanwhile, Sachin Pilot, who played pressure politics seeking ministerial berths for his supporters, stayed away from Maken’s consultation process. However, Pilot is said to have met Maken in Delhi. Questions are being raised over Pilot distancing from Maken’s meetings with leaders in Jaipur, as the entire exercise was being seen as an attempt to strike a balance between the Gahlot and Pilot camps. Now, the schedule for the cabinet expansion and reshuffle in Rajasthan will depend on Maken’s report to be submitted to the Gandhis.