Jaipur, Nov 15: The entire Rajasthan Cabinet resigned today to pave the way for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to carry out a reshuffle after the Congress government was hit by a series of controversies including the mysterious disappearance of nurse Bhanwari Devi.
The Ministers in the Gehlot government gave their collective resignation to the Chief Minister at a Cabinet meeting chaired by him.
“All the ministers took collective decision to submit resignation to show faith and express confidence in the leadership of Ashok Gehlot so that he can strongly can say before the party high command in New Delhi that his team is with him,” Shanti Dhariwal, who resigned as home minister, told reporters after the meeting.
He said there was no crisis on the government and Gehlot did not ask the cabinet to resign, but the decision taken by all the cabinet and state ministers was a collective one.
“For a long time, there was atmosphere of uncertainty in politics in the state and there were some directions from the party high command also so we found mass resignation an appropriate step to strengthen Gehlot,” Dhariwal said.
“Now cabinet reshuffle will take place in near future as per the direction of the high command,” he said. When asked what was the need for a mass resignation for a cabinet reshuffle, he said the ministers wanted to strengthen Gehlot's hands and express leadership in their leader (Gehlot) so this course of action was decided.
The emergency meeting was called by Gehlot to discuss the political situation in view of criticism over the alleged involvement of some Congress ministers in the disappearance of 36-year-old auxillary nurse Bhanwari Devi.
Sacked Minister Mahipal Maderna, a key suspect in the Bhanwari disappearance case, was suspended from the primary membership of Congress last Saturday.
The recent developments in the state has put the Congress on the back foot and a major ministerial reshuffle was on the cards to minimise the damage done to the party and the Gehlot government which came to power in Decemmber 2008.
Gehlot, who visited Delhi a few times in the recent weeks, is expected to make another trip to the Capital soon to discuss the reshuffle issue with the Congress leadership.
Minister of state for Environment and Forests Ramlal Jat resigned last Saturday in the wake of allegations against him over a mysterious death of Paras Devi, wife of the Bhilwara Dairy chairman.
Jat is the third minister in the Gehlot government to bow out of office this year after Maderna and Minister of State for Rural Development and Waqf Amin Khan, who resigned for his comments on President Pratibha Patil in February.
Recently, a video clip purportedly showing Maderna with Bhanwari in a compromising position came into public domain.
The Gehlot government also faced questions over the police firing during communal clashes in Gopalgarh in Bharatpur district in September in which 10 members of a minority community were killed.
The minority community also demanded the removal of Home Minister Dhariwal for alleged mishandling of the Gopalgarh incident.
Rajasthan has 12 cabinet ministers, 3 Minister of State holding independent charge and 10 Minister of State including Jat, whose resignation last week was not accepted.
Minister of state for Khandi Golma Devi, who is the wife of Dausa MP Kirori Meena, had also submitted her resignation to the chief minister over different issues three times in the past but it was never accepted.
At today's meeting, Tourism Minister Beena Kak, who is away from the state, Jat and Golma were not present.