Vacant Rajasthan Congress unit posts: BJP says Gehlot-Pilot tussle still going on

6 months ago 29
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The opposition BJP has cited these vacant posts and the delay in constituting a fresh state executive to claim the tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Pilot is far from over. (Express photo by Rohit Jain Paras)

For nearly six months now, the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC) is functioning only with one office-bearer, its president Govind Singh Dotasra.

Dotasra — also the state’s Education Minister — was appointed as state unit’s president in July 2020 after the party removed former deputy chief minister and then state unit chief Sachin Pilot from his posts. At the time, the party had also dissolved the state executive, and other departments and cells at the time.

The opposition BJP has cited these vacant posts and the delay in constituting a fresh state executive to claim the tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Pilot is far from over, contrary to the official Congress leadership’s official stand — Party brass brokered a truce between the two in August last year, which ended the month-long political crisis in the state.

The ruling party however, maintains that a fresh state executive will be announced “very soon”.

In July 2020, after Pilot camped with his 18 loyalist MLAs in Haryana and Delhi the Congress and had also skipped Congress legislature party (CLP) meetings, the party had moved its MLAs to resorts and had replaced Pilot with Dotasra as the RPCC president. Even after the truce with Pilot in August, the party has not made any appointments. The majority of state commissions and boards are also functioning without any heads, with political appointments to these posts pending since more than two years.

“Even though the Congress says it is a democratic party it can never come out of its dynastic, casteist and appeasement politics. The fact that their organisational structure couldn’t be formed since the past several months reveals that the power struggle in the party is still going on. The public of Rajasthan is paying the price because of their tussle,” said BJP MLA from Chomu and chief spokesperson of the party’s state unit, Ramlal Sharma.

Congress MLA and government chief whip in the Rajasthan Assembly, Mahesh Joshi told The Indian Express that the state executive of the Congress is expected to be formed very soon — likely within the week. “The BJP has a habit of raising useless questions and trying to make issues out of non-issues. The state executive of the Congress is the concern of Congress leaders, high command and workers and not the BJP. The state executive is expected to be constituted very soon, possibly in the current week. The BJP should first answer why it took a long time to come up with its own executive,” said Joshi.

However, a senior Congress leader who did not want to be named attributed the delay in appointments to factions in the party. “In the past six months, a consensus couldn’t be reached on appointments in state executive and other office bearers primarily because of the disagreement between the Gehlot and Pilot factions — both want plum posts for their loyalists. This is one of those rare instances when the state executive hasn’t been formed for such a long time,” said the leader.

According to the leader, posts of at least 8 general secretaries, 8 vice presidents and 24 secretaries remain vacant in the RPCC.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday from the sidelines of a dharna in Jaipur, Pilot had said that reconsitution of the RPCC and the political appointments should be carried out within two months. He had also said that those who had helped the Congress come into power in the state should be included as stakeholders in the government.

Another Congres leader said the appointments to state commissions and boards are expected to be carried out after the state executive is formed. “Many MLAs are also eyeing political appointments and the government is expected to oblige them, because at the moment, the Gehlot faction is keen on keeping their MLAs satisfied so that there is no danger to the stability of the government.”

In 2018, when the BJP was in power in the state and Vasundhara Raje was the chief minister, the post of the state BJP chief had remained vacant for nearly two months because Raje was opposed to the appointment of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat — now Union Jal Shakti Minister.

However, present leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria, said the situation was different. “Even for that short time when we didn’t have a president, rest of the organisational structure was intact. But the entire organisational structure of the Congress is missing right now,” said Kataria.

“Despite their (Congress) accusations that we are trying to break the government, the truth is that due to their own lack of coordination, they will break. I feel that it is very difficult for this government to last for five years. We take collective decisions,” Kataria added.

“When the present state Congress president was appointed, it was at such a time when the Congress was divided in two factions. After the attempted truce, assurances were given. But now, it seems they are not being followed. It is because of this that their organisational structure is left in tatters. The fact that even the organisational structure couldn’t be formed, shows that the differences between the Chief Minister and Sachin Pilot are still there,” he reiterated.

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