Friday, June 14, 2024

Chaos in Rajasthan


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The Congress cabinet in Rajasthan under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been disbanded. Gehlot has to start afresh. The disbanding of the cabinet was due to the resignation of two ministers-Ram Lal Jat and Mahipal Maderna-over separate scandals. But behind it is a long period of drift and ineptitude. In three years, Gehlot has spoilt all the political advantage which his party enjoyed. In 2009, he started with a decisive mandate. The Opposition was divided and delegitimised. He personally had a high profile for administrative efficiency. But he erred by vacillating over the resignation of the two ministers who represent the Jat community. The Jats have a big say in Rajasthan politics. Gehlot obviously did not wish to antagonise them. Now that the two of them have resigned, the Jats have been finally alienated. Gehlot has lost the caste battle. In September, his government hit a major low with the Bharatpur killings. Both the National Minorities Panel and the Congress high command held the government responsible for administrative excesses. The cabinet was beset with a host of corruption cases. The power sector is in the doldrums. The Rajasthan High Court accused the government of inefficiency when it dragged its feet over arbitrary caste-based promotions.

The fall of the Gehlot cabinet is a setback for the Congress countrywide. It was a feather in its cap when it wrested the government from the BJP. In recent months however it antagonised Muslims and Jats who tilted the balance against it. Rajasthan has long been noted for administrative competence but in the last few months, its political image has collapsed. The UPA is in trouble in Delhi. The Jaipur gloom adds to it.

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