As many as 12 new ministers have been added to the Gehlot ministry and the Congress has filled all the existing vacancies in the council of ministers. A list of 15 ministers who will take oath on Sunday, including three promotions from the “minister of state” rank, has been sent to the governor.
The key feature of the expansion is that while a new cabinet minister from the SC community is being inducted, three Dalit “ministers of state” are being promoted to the cabinet rank. Also, there are three tribal ministers and three women in the new additions.
The presence of four Dalit cabinet ministers in the council of 30 is a big representation to the community and appears in line with the social justice push of the Congress leadership seen earlier in Punjab. It is also being said to be a first in the state.
According to sources, five of the new ministers belong to the Sachin Pilot camp. It is a big leg up for the leader who was sacked as deputy chief minister and state president after he rebelled against the state government with a band of MLAs last year. Three ministers including Pilot were removed from the Gehlot government then. The pilot has been demanding a rejig for a long time.
Interestingly, no independent MLA out of 13 supporting the government has found a place in the new reshuffle, while just one BSP MLA out of six who merged with the Congress has been inducted.
Sources said this is a sign of confidence that the party has found after the recent by-election victories which took its tally to 102, giving Congress a majority of its own.
Well-placed sources said that there will be a major reshuffle of portfolios following the oath of new ministers on Sunday.
Earlier, following a cabinet meeting, all the ministers tendered their resignation to chief minister Ashok Gehlot, out of which only three resignations were accepted on the principle of “one man one post“.
The 3 to resign are state president Govind Dotasra, recently appointed AICC in-charge of Punjab Harish Choudhary, and new AICC Gujarat in-charge Raghu Sharma. Gehlot and AICC Rajasthan in charge Ajay Maken held a couple of meetings to discuss the nitty-gritty of the changes and, sources said, the list of the new ministers was sent to the governor late at night.