163 legislators and a dozen ministers later, the buck for good governance stops with chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Call it a move to keep the flock of BJP legislators together, or a premeditated decision aimed at gleaning the maximum out of the government ahead of the general elections, Raje has decided to keep two-thirds of the major departments with herself.
Yes, two thirds!
After the distribution of portfolios to newly appointed Cabinet ministers and ministers of state, Raje has preferred to retain as many as 46 out of 72 departments with her. The two most important departments—finance and home—will be functioning under the directions of the chief minister’s office (CMO). Likewise, departments critical to public welfare like the Urban Development and Housing (UDH), tourism, industries, revenue, youth and sports, transport, women and child development and others are also with Vasundhara Raje.
This clearly indicates that the many of her favourites and senior leaders left out in the first round of Cabinet expansion would sooner, than later, make an entry in the decision-making process of the government. At present, the Cabinet comprises of 12 ministers. Raje can include more 17 ministers in the Cabinet rounding off the number of ministers to the permitted 30 (including herself).
In the previous tenure Raje had given home department to Gulab Chand Kataria but this time she preferred to keep it with her like her predecessor Ashok Gehlot who took matters in his hands after Gopalgarh riots shook the foundations of his government. Gehlot, who didn’t keep any portfolio with him in his first stint as chief minister, went on to head around 16 departments including home and finance with him in his last tenure.
In Raje’s new team, several of the old faces return to head the same portfolios they manned in the previous Raje government. Sanwarlal Jat (water resources), Gajendra Singh Khinwsar (power), Prabhulal Saini (Agriculture) and Kalicharan Saraf (Education) were in charge of the same departments in their previous stints as ministers. Kataria gets rural development while Raje’s aide Rajendra Rathore will head the health department. Younus Khan who was the sports minister, gets Public Works Department, which was headed in the previous BJP government by Rathore.
Sources informed that till Lok Sabha election Raje may keep home department with her as law and order was a big issue in previous government and Raje do not want to take any risk.
Highly placed sources informed that she may also go the Gehlot’s way by appointing new MoS and keep the department with her.
Speculations are rife that Cabinet expansion may take place only after Lok Sabha elections to adopt a carrot and stick approach and avoid any possibility of dissidence in the party.