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Kailash Meghwal steps in as Speaker, paves way for Cabinet rejig

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 - 2:31pm IST | Place: Jaipur | Agency: DNA

Senior BJP legislator Kailash Meghwal’s nomination as Rajasthan Assembly Speaker has increased the chances of a Cabinet expansion in state thus bringing many MLAs in the race for ministers’ portfolio. Meghwal, who is the mines minister in Vasundhara Raje government, was elevated to the top post in the Vidhan Sabha after the BJP legislative council meet on Tuesday. He has resigned from the Cabinet to assume the new charge.

With Meghwal’s exit, Raje is expected to induct more ministers in her Cabinet, which party sources believe will likely happen before the Parliament elections. Already several senior leaders and many castes have been left unrepresented in the Cabinet. Raje could use the opportunity to ensure balance representation of regions which were left ‘untouched’ in the mini Cabinet. The question is not whether the reshuffle will take place. The question is when will it happen?

Talking to the media, Raje said that the reshuffling would not take place during the Assembly session. On being asked whether the expansion would take place after the Lok Sabha polls, she vaguely said ‘may be.’ 

Consider this: Not a single woman legislator has been made a minister in the existing Cabinet.

Thus, it is likely that one or two woman MLAs could be included in the next cabinet reshuffle. Kiran Maheshwari and royal family member Diya Kumari emerge as strong contenders. Bharatpur division has 7 districts, but none of the MLAs from this region are in the current Cabinet, so chances are bright for Diya Kumari who won her first elections against tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena.

Many Raje loyalists like Pratap Singh Singhvi and Bhawani Singh Rajawat who were ministers during Raje’s last tenure have been waiting in the wings for their shot at governance. These hail from Kota division from where there are maximum contenders.

One of them could be repeated in the event of a reshuffle as Prabhulal Saini has already got his share. He is the agriculture minister. However, the litmus test would be a decision on the names of MLAs Om Birla and Prahlad Gunjal who slayed former UDH minister Shanti Dhariwal in Kota city.

The reshuffle is needed to balance the caste equations as well. It is likely that share of ST and SC representation in the Cabinet will go up. One of two MLA from SC could be inducted as Meghwal was the only one representing the community. Nandlal Meena is the only minister from ST.

Besides this MLAs from Sindhi-Punjabi background, Vasundev Devnani, Ashok Parnami and Gyandev Ahuja are also likely to find a place in state Cabinet.

Ghanshyam Tiwari, Narpat Singh Rajvi and Rao Rajendra Singh who were the chief contenders for ministerial berths warm the benches as they eye a seat. Meanwhile, Kaluram Gurjar who is appointed as the chief whip by Raje is also in the race of being a minister. 

His nomination was proposed at the BJP Legislative council meeting chaired by the leader of the house and chief minister Raje. The proposal was supported by former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and leader of Opposition (Congress) Rameshwar Dudi during the nomination. He is likely to be elected as the speaker as BJP has got three-fourth strength (163 MLAs) in the 200-member house.

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