JAIPUR: With what appears to be an eye on the next assembly elections, albeit two years away, Rajasthan Chief minister Ashok Gehlot has gone in for a cabinet expansion inducting five ministers considered close to younger Congress leader from the state, Sachin Pilot.
According to party leaders, the new Cabinet will include five ministers from the Pilot camp, namely, MLAs Hemaram Choudhary, Vishvendra Singh, Murari Lal Meena, Ramesh Meena and Brijendra Ola. Also Read: ‘If Your Intentions Are Clean, Don’t Share Dais With MoS Teni’: Priyanka Gandhi Writes To PM Modi
Pilot had staged a tour de force of sorts against his own party last year, when he openly rebelled against his chief minister for being sidelined in the state. Though he did not quit the party, he had made his stance as well as his dissent clear to the Congress party leaders. The current expansion is seen as the party’s effort to bridge the differences between the two factions.
Speaking to media here, Pilot expressed his satisfaction over the induction of new ministers in the Cabinet and said that the inclusion of four Dalit MLAs in the new Cabinet shows that Congress and the state government wants greater representation for scheduled castes, backward and poor.
“The changes are being made by the party and leadership after discussions. I’m happy that the party high command and state government have taken cognizance of our concerns of representation in the state. The decision will send a positive message across the state,” said Pilot.
Underplaying the reports of factionalism, Pilot said that Congress is working under the leadership of party interim chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Earlier, Pilot had met Sonia Gandhi in the national capital to discuss the Cabinet expansion in the state. Gehlot, too, had met Sonia Gandhi to discuss the new Cabinet.
To a question about his future role in the party, the Congress leader said,
We discussed a lot of issues when I met party president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. I can only say that I have carried out all responsibilities given to me by the party in the last 20 years, with dedication. And will continue to do so in the capacity of a party member — in whatever position assigned to me.