After Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja, Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar on Tuesday met Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot here on Tuesday in the run-up to an expected reshuffle of the state Cabinet. The back-to-back visits have fuelled speculation over possible hiccups in the plan to expand the Gehlot Cabinet, in which MLAs loyal to former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot want a bigger representation.
He came from Bengaluru and held a meeting with the chief minister, which lasted for nearly an hour at the chief minister’s residence, a party leader said after Shivakumar’s visit. Shivakumar is expected to brief the party’s central leadership about this meeting at his scheduled interactions with AICC leaders in Delhi on Wednesday.
On Sunday night, Kumari Selja too had met Gehlot. There has been no official statement on the visits by Congress leaders to the state ruled by the party.
But Congress sources had said Selja came to convey a message from the party’s central leadership. She is considered close to both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Gehlot. Congress general secretary Ajay Maken, who is in-charge of Rajasthan at the AICC, last week held a series of meetings with party MLAs and state unit leaders in Jaipur.
He had said all leaders he met left the decision on the reshuffle to the high command. In a clear indication that some members of the Gehlot Cabinet may be dropped, Maken on Friday said a few ministers had expressed willingness to quit the state government and work for the organisation.
Including Gehlot, there are 21 members now in the Rajasthan ministry and up to nine more can be accommodated. Similarly, there are vacancies in party units at the district level. The Congress high command had brought about a truce in the Rajasthan unit after rebel MLAs led by Pilot appeared to bring the Gehlot government to the brink of collapse last year.
A three-member AICC committee was formed to look into the grievances of Pilot supporters. But they claim that this has not happened even months later and are seeking a bigger share of power.
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