Cabinet expansion is on the table in Rajasthan and Sachin Pilot faction is expected to get the place which it thinks it deserves.
Sachin-Gehlot towards Truce
By SOURAV SHARMA
Ever since the rebellion led by Sachin Pilot had struck the Rajasthan Congress, things have not been smooth for the party even after Pilot returned to the party fold. He and his team have been kept outside the corridors of power by the ruling dispensation in the state.
But not the circumstances look to be changing as Congress General Secretary and In-charge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken has said that the roadmap is ready for cabinet expansion and organisational rejig in the state. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has not been keeping well for the past few months. "If Ashok Gehlot had not fallen ill we would have done Cabinet expansion and the roadmap is ready for appointment at board corporations and district Presidents" Maken said at a press conference in Delhi.
It has been learnt that around five legislators from the Sachin Pilot camp will be accommodated in the Gehlot cabinet. Apart from these appointments for the posts of chairman of boards and corporations have also been finalised. While sources say that Ashok Gehlot is keen on cabinet expansion, the High Command actually wants a cabinet reshuffle to accommodate unhappy voices.
At the same time, sources have informed that friction between the two Congress groups in Rajasthan, led by Gehlot and former Deputy Chief Minister Pilot, continues as the Pilot camp insists that the issues raised by him last year have not yet been resolved in the party.
Gehlot’s health has been failing for months now. He recently underwent an angioplasty procedure in August and was looking to get back to work only on the advice of his doctors. Since then, he has been recovering from it. During the procedure, a stent was placed in one of Gehlot’s three main arteries that had 90 per cent blockage after he had complained about a severe chest pain late August.
Gehlot has been suffering from health issues after he had tested positive for the coronavirus disease in April this year. The 70-year-old senior Congress leader earlier said that he had been working without any rest after he had recovered from the viral disease.
Meanwhile Ajay Maken has held that Gehlot is still unwell and doing his work from home and as he gets well the first thing that is on table is Cabinet expansion. Maken, though, has refused to cause any speculation with regards to what role Sachin Pilot will play in near future. He said that this decision rests with the senior leadership of the party.
After the fall of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, credit to Jyotiradiya Scindia, Pilot along with his 18 loyalist MLAs staged a rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in July 2020. But this did not led to the fall of the Congress led government in the state as Ashok Gehlot displayed his strength by winning the confidence motion via voice vote in the assembly within a month from the rebellion.
Taking a strict action against Pilot, Gehlot removed Sachin Pilot as the deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan. Thereafter, he was removed from his position as the state unit chief and party spokesperson. Additionally, two of his loyalists and the then cabinet ministers, Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena were sacked from their posts by the Chief Minister. Pilot, who was the longest-serving president of the party unit in the state, was sacked by the party after he skipped the second round of meetings convened by Congress to discuss the political crisis in the state. Since then, the Pilot faction has been unhappy over the affairs of the Government and the State party unit.
Pilot Back to Work
After the return of Sachin Pilot in the folds of Congress last year, now it seems that the leader is eager to serve the party. Recently, Pilot was in Bengaluru and where he had held a press conference at Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee office along with KPCC President DK Shivakumar over the recently unveiled National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) policy of the Centre.
He also delved into political questions regarding the future of the party and Rajasthan politics. Pilot hinted at the possibility of Cabinet expansion and had said, "The Congress leadership is discussing the issue with the Chief Minister, who will do what will be decided by the leadership, but our goal is to bring back the Congress in 2023 and for this, everybody has to work together and implement the promises made in the manifesto."
He deposed all faith in the central leadership. "Who becomes what, who takes over what position, who is Minister, who is party president or the Chief Minister, that decision is taken by the party leadership in Delhi," he had said. But this does not mean that Pilot has given up on everything. He had recently raised the issue of the non-resolution of commitments that had been made, and leaders close to him had expressed frustration with the long wait for the resolution. Moreover, they said they are being pushed by Chief Minister Gehlot to leave the side of their leader.