Jaipur: Seeking to balance caste and regional factors, the Rajasthan cabinet was on Monday expanded with as many as 23 ministers – 13 cabinet and 10 ministers of state – being sworn in, a week after chief minister Ashok Gehlot and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot took oath,
Eighteen legislators including Subhash Garg of RLD are first time ministers, while the other five have held ministerial posts earlier, as efforts were made to have a mix of young faces and experienced legislators from both Gehlot and Pilot camps.
The cabinet includes one woman, Mamta Bhupesh, and a Muslim face, Saleh Mohammad. Portfolios of the ministers are yet to be allotted. Pilot said the formation of the cabinet reflects a balance between age and experience, caste and different geographical regions.
“It is a balanced cabinet. We have a lot of people who are being given chance for the first time and also some who got experience in earlier Congress governments. So it is a balance between geographical regions, different communities, and between experience and age,” Pilot told PTI.
“It is a forward looking, fully charged energetic cabinet. We have added 23 ministers to our existing strength and the government is fully equipped to deal with the challenges and expectations people have from us, he said.
Of the 23 newly inducted ministers, Shanti Kumar Dhariwal, Master Bhanwar Lal Meghwal, Pramod Jain Bhaya and Parsadi Lal Meena were ministers in former Congress government (2008-13) while BD Kalla was the minister in Congress government (1998-2003).
Both these governments were led by Ashok Gehlot, who has now become the chief minister of the state for a third time.
Apart from the member of the erstwhile royal family of Bharatpur and influential Jat leader of eastern Rajasthan Vishvendra Singh, Harish Choudhary, Lalchand Kataria and Govind Singh Dotasara are Jat leaders who have found a place in the council of ministers.
Kataria, who won the 2009 Lok Sabha election, was a union minister of state while Govind Singh Dotasara was the chief whip of Congress during the previous BJP government’s tenure. There are two Brahmins, as many Rajputs, three from ST, four from SC and one minister from Gurjar community.
Pratap Singh Khachariyawas is one of the two Rajput leaders in the cabinet who as the Jaipur Congress president led many agitations here when the party was in opposition. He is one of many legislators considered close to Pilot.
The highest number of ministers (7) are from the Jaipur division followed by 4 from Bharatpur division, three each from Bikaner, Kota and Jodhpur division, two from Udaipur division and one minister from the Ajmer division.
The youngest among the ministers is Ashok Chandna, 34, who is also the Youth Congress state president, while the eldest is Shanti Kumar Dhariwal, 75, who was the home minister in former Congress government (2008-13). The average age of the ministers is 55 years.
The legislators who had also won during the 2013 assembly election despite the ‘Modi-wave’ include Ramesh Meena, Govind Dotasara, Bhanwar Singh Bhati, Sukhram Vishnoi and Ashok Chandna and were inducted in the council of ministers.
However, some of the prominent leaders and legislators like Parasram Mordia, Rajendra Pareek, CP Joshi, Mahesh Joshi, Jitendra Singh, Mahendra Singh Malviya and Brijendra Singh Ola did not find a place in the cabinet. The desert state which comprises of 7 divisions having 33 districts, has 200 assembly constituencies.
Out of the 199 seats for which elections were held on December 7, the Congress won 99 seats and its ally RLD one seat, giving the alliance a comfortable majority to form the government. The election to Alwar’s Ramgarh seat was cancelled due to the death of the BSP candidate.
With today’s expansion, the present strength of the council of ministers in the state, including the chief minister and deputy chief minister, stands at 25 and can go up to a maximum of 30.