Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met with Congress president Sonia Gandhi today, reinforcing buzz that he will expand his cabinet to end a long-festering feud with rival Sachin Pilot. Yesterday, Congress leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had reportedly urged him to accommodate Sachin Pilot’s supporters in his ministry.
Mr Gehlot’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi was on “expanding the Rajasthan cabinet and appointing chairmen of state corporations”, said party leaders.
“The party high command will decide on the cabinet reshuffle in Rajasthan. Ajay Maken has all the information on it. We want good governance to continue in the state,” Mr Gehlot told reporters after the meeting, speaking mostly on fuel prices.
Sources said the Congress leadership wants the reshuffle to take place immediately, in keeping with a major promise to Mr Pilot when he agreed to drop his rebellion more than a year ago.
Besides Priyanka Gandhi, other Congress leaders like KC Venugopal and Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken were present at a meeting at Rahul Gandhi’s home in Delhi where Mr Gehlot was reminded about the long-delayed cabinet changes.
Rahul Gandhi was not in the meeting.
Last year, Mr Pilot camped in Delhi with 18 MLAs for weeks as he felt short-changed and sidelined by Mr Gehlot in the Rajasthan Congress.
In 2018, when the Congress won the Rajasthan election, Mr Pilot was credited with the party’s win but had to settle for the post of Mr Gehlot’s deputy.
His revolt brought Mr Gehlot’s government to a near-collapse and triggered an intense numbers game in which the Chief Minister sequestered MLAs loyal to him at a Jaipur hotel.
Amid rumours that he was in talks with the BJP and could follow the same route as Jyotiraditya Scindia – another Congress rebel who switched to the BJP last year — Mr Pilot pulled back from the brink after a meeting with all three Gandhis and accepted their offer of an improved share in the state government.
But his patience has been tested greatly with Mr Gehlot sitting on the suggested changes for a year.
In September this year, Mr Pilot — still keen on the top job in Rajasthan — had more meetings with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. The Gandhis reportedly also want Mr Pilot to take charge of Gujarat ahead of elections in the state next year.