New Delhi: The Congress government in Rajasthan seems to be in turmoil again, with a sitting minister slamming his own government Thursday.
Taking to Twitter, minister Ashok Chandna asked Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to relieve him from his “humiliating post”, and said his ministry should instead be handed over to Principal Secretary Kuldeep Ranka.
Chandna holds multiple portfolios in the Rajasthan government, including Sports and Youth Affairs and Skill Development, Employment and Entrepreneurship.
माननीय मुख्यमंत्री जी मेरा आपसे व्यक्तिगत अनुरोध है की मुझे इस ज़लालत भरे मंत्री पद से मुक्त कर मेरे सभी विभागों का चार्ज श्री कुलदीप रांका जी को दे दिया जाए, क्योंकि वैसे भी वो ही सभी विभागों के मंत्री है।
— Ashok Chandna (@AshokChandnaINC) May 26, 2022
Ranka, a 1994 batch IAS officer, is an influential bureaucrat in the Rajasthan government and is known to hold considerable sway in the CM’s office, said sources in the the state Congress.
In his Twitter post, Chandna — an MLA from Hindoli — attacked Ranka, alleging that “he is anyway minister of all departments”.
Speaking to the media Friday, CM Gehlot tried to play down the incident, citing work pressure as the probable cause of Chandna’s outburst. “He must have been tense when he made that statement. We should not take it seriously. I am yet to speak with him,” said the CM.
ThePrint reached Chandna over phone and WhatsApp messages, for further comments on the matter, but did not receive any response till the time of publication of this report.
With Thursday’s tweet, the minister joins a growing list of Congress MLAs who’ve mounted attacks on other leaders from the party, or members of the state bureaucracy, while their party is in power in the state.
The developments come at a time when the state’s former deputy CM, Sachin Pilot, has been putting pressure on the party high command for a change of guard in Rajasthan, ahead of the 2023 assembly elections.
Three others raise voice on same day
Earlier this month, Congress MLA from Osian, Divya Maderna, called the government’s Water Resources Minister, Mahesh Joshi, a “rubber stamp”, for his alleged failure to find solutions to the state’s water woes.
“I am warning you (Joshi). I have joined politics to serve people and if you continue to bulldoze water schemes, I will organise a public campaign against you,” Maderna had said during a debate in the state assembly.
Last week, Ganesh Ghogra, the Congress MLA from Dungarpur and president of Rajasthan Youth Congress, submitted his resignation to the CM after he was named in an FIR, with 60 others, for allegedly creating a ruckus and locking up a sub-divisional magistrate and other government officials.
In his letter, Ghogra wrote that his “voice is being suppressed by local administrative officers”.
Other MLAs have raised questions against the party’s legislative unit this week.
A video of Rajendra Singh Bidhuri, MLA from Begun, Chittorgarh, went viral on social media Wednesday. In the video Bidhuri can be heard alleging that CM Gehlot is scared of investigating the REET paper leak case, as it will send his own minister to jail.
Meanwhile, Sanyam Lodha, an independent MLA who’s considered an advisor to Gehlot, served a ‘breach of privilege notice’ against the home department and revenue department of the state. CM Gehlot holds the portfolio for the former. According to Lodha, the notice was served as the home department had failed to take action against “implicating an innocent person” in a case of alleged murder in Sirohi district.
The attack by its own MLAs, is likely to be a cause of worry for the Rajasthan Congress and CM Gehlot, especially as it comes ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled for 10 June, in which their votes will be crucial. Voting for four Rajya Sabha seats from Rajasthan are scheduled, with the Congress poised to win two and the BJP one. The battle for the fourth seat is said to be a close fight between the two parties, with thirteen independent MLAs in the state set to play a crucial role.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)