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CM saves Congress govt. in Rajasthan

Ashok-Gehlot 1_l

Prakash Bhandari/SATimes: Jaipur: Facing unprecedented controversies and political uncertainties, Rajasthan’s Congress government headed by Ashok Gehlot has managed to survive thanks to the deft handling of the situation by a resolute chief minister. Gehlot has now reshuffledhis cabinet by dropping six tainted ministers and inducting six new ministers and appointing seven new parliamentary secretaries.

The Gehlot government got mired in controversies over the involvement of minister Mahipal Maderna in a sex scandal and of another minister Ram Lal Jat in hastening the post mortem of a woman who died in mysterious circumstances. Both these ministers, belonging to the powerful Jat community, caused embarrassment to the Gehlot government. Maderna, facing a CBI inquiry, was dismissed. He was allegedly seen in a sleazy CD with a nurse named Bhanwari Devi who is missing. Ram Pal Jat resigned when media reports questioned the circumstances in which a woman named Paras Devi died at Bhilwara. This woman had intimate relationship with him.

Gehlot, who enjoys party chief Sonia Gandhi’s confidence, could not have managed to avert the fall of his government but for the exemplary unity of his 27 junior and senior ministers who resigned en masse to repose faith in his leadership.

Regrouping his team, Gehlot showed the door to six ministers, picked five new ones, promoted one to cabinet rank and reinducted another. While Manju Meghawal, Naseem Akhtar, Vinod Chaudhary, Virendra Beniwal and Dayaram Parmar are the new faces, Amin Khan has been retained and Ashok Bharwa elevated from minister of state to cabinet rank.

“It’s no secret that I am heading a sort of coalition government with the support of the independents and six BSP MLAs who crossed over and joined the Congress. Such reshuffle is not uncommon and there would still be some more changes in
future,” admitted Gehlot.

Vijay Bhandari, veteran journalist and former editor of Rajasthan’s leading Hindi daily, said, “Gehlot has emerged stronger after his ministers showed solidarity and resigned collectively to enable him to reshuffle the Cabinet. This also showed the command and respect Gehlot enjoyed. No other chief ministers in the past, not even late Bhairon Singh Shekhawat or Mohan Lal Sukhadia, enjoyed such a support and confidence of his ministers. I am sure he would lead the government to complete its five year tenure.”

Dhariwal, who as Home minister was blamed for the firing in Gopalgarh in Bharatpur district in September this year resulting in the killing of 10 Muslims, was retained as a minister in the reshuffle but stripped of the Home portfolio.

The chief minister has kept the Home department with him and changed the portfolios of several other ministers, including Babu Lal Nagar against whom there are corruption charges.
Nagar was allotted the low-key Khadi & Gramodyog and dairy.
Cabinet ministers AA Khan Durumiyan (Medical and health), Beena Kak (Tourism and Women and child development), Harji Ram Burdak (Agriculture) and Rajendra Pareek (Industries) retained their portfolios.