After resolving the infighting in its Punjab unit, the Congress party has now focussed to put its house in Rajasthan in order. The high command had sent KC Venugopal, General Secretary (Organisation) and state in-charge General Secretary Ajay Maken to Jaipur to meet all the factions and resolve the crisis in the party there. Maken and Venugopal, who came to Rajasthan on Saturday night, had a detailed meeting with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot that lasted almost till midnight.
On Sunday, state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra organised a meeting in which all the MLAs and party office-bearers were present. Before the start of the meeting, the supporters of former state Congress chief Sachin Pilot raised slogans demanding his anointment as the next CM of Rajasthan in the presence of Maken and Venugopal.
The call for the meeting, which was given late on Saturday night, had created a stir as it was not decided earlier and had also intensified speculations of a big decision on Sunday morning but later on it was clarified byDotasra that this is a meeting just to welcome Venugopal as he had come to PCC office for the first time after his election as Rajay Sabha MP from Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, addressing the MLAs, Maken said, "I will be coming to Rajasthan for two days on July 28 and 29. I will talk to each Congress MLA. We feel that the AICC should also know the opinion of the MLAs as to who all are being made the district presidents, block presidents etc."
Asked when the Cabinet expansion will take place in the state, Maken said, "We cannot bound ourselves to take this big decision on a particular date. The Congress leaders have expressed their faith in the central leadership; everything has been decided mutually," he said.
"All the Congress workers have said in one voice that they shall abide by what the Congress high command says. We are discussing the Cabinet expansion and appointments at different levels," he added.
Meanwhile, Maken and Venugopal left Jaipur soon after the meeting, reportedly taking along a proposed list of candidates who can be elevated to different posts, both in the organisation and the state government.
For the unversed, the demands for Cabinet expansion and other political appointments have gained momentum after reports of resentment in the camp led by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who along with 18 MLAs had rebelled against the leadership of Gehlot last year.
Three days back, Pilot had indicated that the Congress would take suitable steps soon to address issues raised by him.
He had said that he is in touch with the party high command over the issues raised by him and hoped that the required steps would be taken soon.
Pilot was sacked as the deputy chief minister and Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief in July last year after he rebelled against the leadership of Gehlot. After a one-month-long political crisis, the party high command had announced to form a three-member committee to look into the issues raised by him.
Last month, MLAs from the Pilot camp said that the party should fulfill the promises made to Pilot last month, following which the demand for Cabinet expansion and political appointments gained momentum.
At present, there are 21 members in the council of ministers, including the chief minister, and nine slots are vacant.
Rajasthan can have a maximum of 30 ministers.
(With PTI and IANS inputs)
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