Gehlot becomes Rajasthan chief minister, to form ministry next week (Lead)

December 13th, 2008 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyJaipur, Dec 13 (IANS) Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who was Saturday sworn in as the chief minister of Rajasthan, is likely to form his ministry next week, an aide said. Gehlot has drawn up a list of probable ministers and will travel to New Delhi to discuss the issue with the party’s leadership, a close aide of the chief minister told IANS.

Governor S.K. Singh administered the oath of office and secrecy to Gehlot earlier Saturday before a gathering that included former chief ministers Vasundhare Raje and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Congress activists cheered Gehlot and shouted slogans hailing him and party president Sonia Gandhi as he waved to them after taking oath.

This is the second time the 57-year-old Gehlot has become the chief minister. He earlier held the post 1998-2003.

After taking oath, Gehlot told reporters that his aim would be to provide a sensitive and transparent government.

“We will review the BJP government’s works and decisions. My priority would be to provide medical and health facilities to people living below the poverty line,” the chief minister said.

Gehlot is seen as the main architect of the Congress comeback in the state. The Congress wrested power from the BJP in assembly elections, winning 96 seats in the 200-member house.

Gehlot might not have a long list of ministers initially, but he will have to accommodate the seven Congress rebels who fought as independents and have offered support to the party.

In all, 11 independent legislators, including BJP rebel leader K.L. Meena, have offered their support to the Congress, which is four short of a majority in the house.

“Gehlot would have to keep the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and the caste factor in mind while selecting his team,” said political analyst Vijay Sharma.

A major problem for Gehlot is that all of his senior colleagues, including B.D. Kalla, C.P. Joshi, Pradhuman Singh and Harendra Mirdha, have lost the elections. However, the chief minister seems unfazed.

“Everything will be fine. The process to form a cabinet is underway and the final decision on appointing ministers would only be taken after approval from the central leadership,” Gehlot told reporters.

Congress sources said Gehlot will induct some leaders of the Jat community in his ministry and the names of Mahipal Maderna, Sonaram and Hemaram Chaudhary are under consideration.

Senior Jat leaders, including union minister Sis Ram Ola and Parasram Maderna, had openly opposed Gehlot’s appointment as the chief minister.

Other names being considered for cabinet berths include Bina Kak, Shanti Dhariwal, Deependra Singh Shekhawat, Jitendra Singh, Brajinder Ola, Rajendra Pareek, Parasadi Lal Meena, Raghuveer Meena and Aimaduddin alias Duru Miyan.

Duru Miyan might be made the speaker of the assembly, party sources said.

Meanwhile, talks on having two deputy chief ministers for the state have been postponed. Discussions on this will only be take place after the Lok Sabha polls, the sources added.

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