Government will complete five years, says Gehlot

Dismisses speculation of Punjab-style change of guard in Rajasthan

Facing demands from the rival faction in the ruling Congress for a power sharing arrangement, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday said his government would complete its full tenure of five years and he would be active for the next 15 to 20 years. Mr. Gehlot said all speculations doing rounds here after the change of guard in Punjab were “wrong and unfounded”.

Addressing a programme at his official residence here to launch two campaigns of administration, Mr. Gehlot said the Congress government would not only complete its five years but would also come back to power in the next State Assembly election. “There is no anti-incumbency factor against our government. We have obtained an authentic feedback from the people [on this],” he said.

His remarks about the government’s stability were apparently directed at both the Opposition BJP and the rival camp in Congress led by his former deputy Sachin Pilot.

Mr. Gehlot thanked the people of the State for sending their wishes and prayers when he underwent angioplasty recently and urged them to go for a heart check-up after their recovery from COVID-19 infection.

The Chief Minister also took a jibe at the BJP for questioning him on working from home during the pandemic. “We should follow all protocols because we are still living in the middle of a pandemic. The BJP lost its leader [Rajsamand MLA] Kiran Maheshwari to the virus infection, but they are still not willing to learn,” he remarked.

Mr. Gehlot, 70, underwent angioplasty at the Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital here on August 27 . He has had health issues since he recovered from COVID-19 in May.

The Chief Minister did not address the issue of the Cabinet expansion and reshuffle as well as political appointments, which have been inordinately delayed, in his speech. He holds as many as nine portfolios, including those of Home and Finance.

The Pilot camp has been anxiously waiting for inclusion in the Cabinet and political positions ever since an assurance was given by the Congress high command.

Mr. Pilot was sacked both as the Deputy CM and the Pradesh Congress president after he, along with 18 MLAs, staged a rebellion against Mr. Gehlot in July last year. While Mr. Gehlot’s loyalists have affirmed that the political situation in Rajasthan would not witness any major upheaval after the turmoil in Punjab, the Congress emissaries from New Delhi have been unable to convince him to carry out an early reshuffle.

The State can have a maximum of 30 Ministers. There are at present 21 members in the Council of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, and nine slots are vacant.

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