Jaipur: Fifteen ministers – 11 cabinet and four ministers of state – were sworn in Sunday in Rajasthan, in a much-awaited expansion of the Ashok Gehlot ministry.
Governor Kalraj Mishra administered the oath of office to the new ministers.
Of them, five are believed to be from Congress leader and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot’s camp, which had rebelled against Gehlot’s leadership in 2020.
Chief Minister Gehlot told reporters after the oath taking ceremony that representation has been given to all, be it scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, backward classes or minorities.
He said that portfolios will be allotted while keeping in mind preparations for the assembly elections in 2023.
Pilot, who along with 18 other Congress MLAs had rebelled, expressed satisfaction over the new council of ministers, saying it has been done with a comprehensive approach and will send a good message across the state.
The 11 cabinet ministers include three – Mamta Bhupesh, Bhajan Lal Jatav and Tikaram Jully– who have been elevated from minister of state (MoS) to cabinet rank, while two — Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena — are those who were sacked last year for rebelling and have been reinducted as cabinet ministers.
Hemaram Choudhary, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, Ramlal Jat, Mahesh Joshi, Govindram Meghwal and Shakuntla Rawat were also sworn in as cabinet ministers.
Zahida, Brijendra Singh Ola, Rajendra Gudha and Murari Lal Meena were sworn in as ministers of state.
The council of ministers in the Congress government in Rajasthan now has 19 cabinet ministers and 10 minister of state, apart from the chief minister.
Chief Minister Gehlot and members of his council of ministers were among those present at the oath taking ceremony at the Raj Bhawan.
The number in the council of ministers in the state has increased to 30 now. The Rajasthan Cabinet can have a maximum of 30 ministers, including the chief minister.
In the cabinet expansion and reshuffle process, three ministers –- Govind Singh Dotasra, Harish Chaudhary and Raghu Sharma — were dropped.
The resignations of Sharma, Chaudhary and Dotasra were accepted according to the “one man, one post” formula of the Congress. They all hold positions in the party.
Sharma has been appointed as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Gujarat and Chaudhary as the AICC in-charge for Punjab, while Dotasra is the Rajasthan Congress chief.
Chaudhary and Sharma were cabinet ministers and Dotasra was a MoS.
Dotasra, Chaudhary and Sharma resigned on Friday from the council of ministers, while other members of the previous Gehlot Cabinet resigned in a meeting on Saturday to make way for the expansion.
After the swearing in ceremony, Gehlot also said some of the MLAs could not be given an opportunity but they will be adjusted in posts such as parliamentary secretary, adviser to the chief minister, and chairman of various boards and corporations.
Besides Congress MLAs, those independents who had supported the government at the time of the 2019 political crisis too had expectations from the cabinet reshuffle, but no independent MLA has been inducted as minister.
Former deputy chief minister Pilot said representation of Dalits, tribal and women has increased in the cabinet which is a welcome move.
The Congress leader said in this reshuffle and expansion, the government structure has been prepared in a new form with regional and social balance, which will benefit the party.
After the induction of ministers, four cabinet ministers will be from the Dalit community. Of them, three are those who were elevated from MoS to cabinet rank and one –Govindram Meghwal — is a new face.
The expanded Cabinet has three women ministers. Two are cabinet ministers — Mamta Bhupesh and Shakuntala Rawat — and one is an MoS – Zahida.
Cabinet minister Mahesh Joshi is also chief whip while MoS Brijendra Ola is the son of former Union minister Sisram Ola.
MoS Rajendra Gudha is one of the six MLAs who defected from BSP to the Congress.
Among the 15 ministers who took oath on Sunday, Hemaram Choudhary is the senior-most MLA. He is a six time MLA.
Ramlal Jat is a four-time MLA; Mahendra Jeet Singh Malviya, Vishvendra Singh, Ramesh Meena, Brijendra Ola and Murari Meena are three-time MLAs, while rest of the ministers who took oath are two-time MLAs.