After 2 rounds of talks between chief minister Ashok Gehlot & AICC general secretary in-charge Ajay Maken, the countdown for Rajasthan Cabinet reshuffle has begun.

There are 21 ministers, including the chief minister, in the Cabinet which can accommodate up to 30 ministers.

People familiar with the development said Maken met AICC president Sonia Gandhi before coming to Jaipur on Tuesday. He will meet the party high command with the chief minister’s suggestions and return to the state next week.

The demands for political appointment and Cabinet reshuffle gained momentum after reports of resentment in the camp led by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who along with 18 MLAs rebelled against the leadership of Ashok Gehlot last year.

“The reshuffle is possible this month as the assembly session would begin next month. Earlier, the session was to be called this month but was postponed, possibly because of the reshuffle,” said a senior party leader.

On Tuesday, Maken made it clear that the meeting with the CM would focus on Cabinet reshuffle and political appointments. “The exercise on Cabinet reshuffle and political appointments in Rajasthan is a work in progress. It means that discussions with all are being held,” he said.

When former deputy CM Sachin Pilot was asked about the reshuffle on Wednesday, he said that Maken’s word should be taken seriously as he is the representative of Sonia Gandhi and general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan.

Sources claimed that Pilot and his supporters have conveyed that there would be no negotiations over what was promised to them. Last year’s patch-up between Gehlot and Pilot factions happened after assurances from the Congress’s central leadership that the latter’s supporters will be suitably accommodated.

A leader from the Pilot faction said this time it’s not about numbers in the Cabinet but power-sharing. “Eyeing assembly elections next year, the party want to douse all the small fires, be it in Punjab, Haryana or Rajasthan,”he said.

People close to Gehlot said their leader wants no faction in the party and the selection for the Cabinet should be on the basis of merit, social engineering, and regional representation.

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