Too many cabinet hopefuls for Vasundhara’s comfort
The BJP might have scored a thumping victory with 162 seats but Rajasthan CM-in-waiting Vasundhara Raje's worries are far from over. With several stalwarts voted back to power this term and some popular faces making it to her team, she will struggle in deciding portfolios for them.
Outgoing chief minister Ashok Gehlot's team had a ministry of 26 including ministers of state, besides 13 parliamentary secretaries, and four legislators appointed speaker, deputy speaker, chief whip and deputy chief whip, taking the total number to 43 members, the largest possible size. Even if Raje were to stick to that maximum, there will be at least another 100 legislators upset at being ignored.
Bigwigs such as Gulab Chand Kataria and Ghanshyam Tiwari will expect to be accommodated on a priority. Also fancying their chances will be Rao Rajendra Singh, Prahlad Gunjal, Kalicharan Saraf, Vasudev Devnani, Laduram Bishnoi, Prabhulal Saini, Rajpal Singh, Narpat Singh Rajvi, Yunus Khan, Gajendra Khinvsar, all of whom have won comfortably.
Legislators Manvendra Singh of Sheo, Jagat Singh of Kaman, and royals Diya Kumari and Siddhi Kumari, who has come back for a second consecutive term, too will look forward to spots in Raje's cabinet. Diya's aides believe she makes for a strong candidate for minister of tourism, art and culture with her exposure to these fields owing to her work in the hospitality industry as part of managing the Jaipur royal family's properties. Also, Diya has been voted from Sawai Madhopur, the tiger town, already a tourist spot and with the potential of further development. In Raje's 2003 team, first-timer Usha Punia had been appointed minister of state for tourism.
Raje's 2003 team had Kataria as home minister, Ghanshyam Tiwari for education, Yunus Khan for transport, Sawarlal Jat for public health and education, Narpat Singh Rajvi for industries, Prabhulal Saini for agriculture, Pratap Singh Singhvi for urban development and housing, Gajendra Singh Khinvsar for energy, Surender Rathore for agriculture, Kalicharan Saraf for elementary education, and Kalulal Gujar for panchayati raj. All of them are back in their seats and will look forward to their original slots. Leaving out any of these heavyweights would mean drawing the ire of a large team and that could split the party into factions over the coming months, which could take a toll on the Lok Sabha elections next year.