New Delhi: Hours before Rajasthan sees a massive cabinet reshuffle, former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot this morning presented a united front as he stressed – “We have to fight the BJP together to win the 2023 elections. I am glad that the high command took note of various concerns in this cabinet revamp”. Mr Pilot’s assertion comes a year after his open rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had plunged the ruling party into a huge crisis.
“New ministers will be sworn in today. The step – taken by the party and the leadership after discussions – is sending a positive message across the state. We had raised this issue time and again. I’m happy that the party, the high command, and the state government took note of it,” the 44-year-old Congress leader told reporters.
The new state cabinet will have 15 new faces, four of whom will be junior ministers.
On being asked about his five loyalists being accommodated in the new cabinet, Mr Pilot, trying to clear the air, said: “Congress is working under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi. This thing that you guys keep talking about – yeh guth, wo guth … koi guth nahi hai (this group, that group… there is no group)… Yahan sirf Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi ka guth hai aur hum log members hain. There are no factions in the party. The decisions (of the cabinet reshuffle) have been taken together.”
“Change is constant and more changes are expected in near future. With elections just 22 months away, we have to galvanize people, bring new people on board. The BJP’s policies have been rejected by the people. We have seen the Prime Minister withdrawing the farm laws… this indicates the huge political pressure,” he added.
Four Dalit Ministers have been included in the new cabinet, he said, adding that “for a long time, there was no Dalit representation in our government.
In September, the Congress had picked Charanjit Channi as Punjab’s first Dalit Chief Minister.
Mr Pilot also said that the role of women will also be crucial in Rajasthan governance, praising Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for announcing that the party’s 40 per cent candidates contesting in Uttar Pradesh will be women.
It is unclear what role Sachin Pilot will be given today. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reportedly want Mr Pilot to take charge of party affairs in Gujarat ahead of crucial elections next year.
Sachin Pilot – seen as leading the party’s revival in Rajasthan – was a contender for the Chief Minister’s post after the Congress’ 2018 win. But he was persuaded by Rahul Gandhi to take the job of Mr Gehlot’s deputy instead.
Today’s move is aimed at putting differences to rest.