New Delhi: The MLAs’ wait for “sporting red beacons” on their vehicles is getting longer, with the cabinet expansion in Rajasthan continuing to be in limbo. AICC general secretary Ajay Maken, who returned from Jaipur with leaders’ views, is still waiting to meet the Congress high command.
Interestingly, Maken, who had given the leaders in Rajasthan the impression that his say will be final, has ended up waiting for an appointment with Rahul Gandhi in Delhi. The former Congress boss is said to be busy in what is his priority—national politics. There are some factors in Rajasthan which indicate that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will not carry out the cabinet expansion anytime soon. Announcement of panchayat elections in six districts, preparation for by-elections in two Assembly seats and the risk of a third wave of Covid-19 are some of these factors.
However, CM Gehlot may carry out a reshuffle whenever he wishes to, for panchayat elections and bypolls make no difference to the same technically. But it seems that the CM wants reshuffle to be done after by-elections.
Gehlot is believed to have a plan to announce his expanded team all of a sudden like what he had done in his second term. One of the reasons for this is that Gehlot has to remove some of the ministers. In view of the intense internal fight in Congress in Rajasthan, it will be a difficult task for Gehlot to axe some of the ministers. On being shown the exit door, these ministers may create problems. Some of them were said to be with Sachin Pilot earlier.
To recall, Gehlot had surprised everyone by taking resignation of all the ministers in the third year of his second term as Chief Minister. National media was flooded with reports speculating one thing or the other about Gehlot being summoned by Sonia Gandhi at that point of time. But the speculation turned out to be far from reality. The same night, Gehlot released a list of new ministers after reshuffle, removing six ministers. Ministers like Ramlal Jat and Pramod Jain Bhaya had been axed then. Raghu Sharma, who is quite a popular minister presently, was given promotion during that reshuffle. To the surprise of one and all, Gehlot had done it without making any visit to Delhi. The situation in Rajasthan is just like that. If cabinet expansion does not happen now, then it will be deferred till November. Panchayat polls will take place by the end of this month. If Assembly bypolls are announced, then the expansion may be postponed till October. In fact, the CM is finding it difficult to zero in on the names that could either be removed from or included in the team. Sources say that complaints of corruption and misbehaviour against some ministers have reached the high command. The complaints against the sons of a couple of ministers are also there. Recently, Maken spent three days in Jaipur, trying to create a positive atmosphere. He kindled hopes among some leaders who are seeking to be ministers. But their wait is getting longer with every passing day.