After Punjab crisis, Congress working on Rajasthan Cabinet expansion
Shortly after resolving the power tussle in Punjab, Congress is now stepping up efforts to put its house in order in Rajasthan. The party leadership on Saturday sent Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal and Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken to Jaipur ahead of a Cabinet expansion. The two leaders have reportedly met Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot.
According to ANI, Maken said after the meetings, "We're discussing the Cabinet expansion, appointments of district and block-level chiefs... appointments in boards and corporations... Everyone has said they would accept what the leadership decides." A decision on Cabinet expansion will be announced soon, he said. Rajasthan Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra also called a meeting of 25 MLAs on the matter this morning.
Factional infighting in Rajasthan Congress was bared to the public when Sachin Pilot revolted against Gehlot last year along with 18 MLAs. The Rajasthan Congress is now divided into two camps: Gehlot's followers and those loyal to Pilot. Earlier this week, Pilot had indicated that the Congress high command would take appropriate steps soon to address issues raised by him.
The demand for Cabinet expansion and political appointments gained momentum last month after the MLAs from Pilot's camp said that Congress should fulfill the promises made to Pilot. While Pilot's camp has been pushing for the Cabinet expansion to accommodate them in the government, repeated delay by Gehlot is reportedly complicating the process. Notably, nine slots are still vacant in Gehlot's Council of Ministers.
Last month, Sachin Pilot had expressed dissatisfaction with the Congress panel constituted by the party's high command for their failure to deliver on its promises. "It has now been 10 months. I was given to understand that there would be swift action by the committee, but now half of the term is done, and those issues haven't been resolved," Pilot had then said.