Gehlot reshuffles team, drops five ministers

Jaipur: With his government`s image taking a beating due to sleaze and corruption allegations, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has carried out a reshuffle of his ministerial team, dropping five ministers including Motor Garage Minister Bharosilal Jatav facing illegal mining charge.

However, Minister of State Amin Khan, who had caused considerable embarrassment by saying that President Pratibha Patil got the top post due to her proximity with Sonia Gandhi, has been rewarded with independent charge. Among the five shown the door last night were Ramlal Jat, who had resigned as Minister of State for Forest and Environment following allegation of being involved with a woman, Education Minister Bhanwarlal Meghawal who had made allegedly adverse comments about women and Jatav.

The resignation of Jat, who had put in his papers on Saturday last, was accepted by Gehlot, official sources said. The others sacked in the reshuffle exercise are Golma Devi and Pramod Jain Bhaya. Information and Public Relations Minister Ashok Bharwa has been elevated from MoS rank to the cabinet status while Birender Beinwal, Amin Khan and Dayaram Parmar have been made Ministers of State with independent charge.

Three new Ministers of State are Manju Meghawal, Naseem Akhtar and Vinod Chaudhary.Congress Chief Whip Raghu Sharma has been given a cabinet rank and his deputy Ratan Devasi the status of MoS. All the new ministers will be sworn in today. Gehlot had earlier secured the resignation of all his ministers in order to carry out the reshuffle.

However, Home Minister Shantilal Dhariwal, who had come under attack in the wake of the killing of ten people in police firing on rioters in Gopalgarh, managed to hold on in the cabinet although his portfolio may be changed.

The cabinet`s 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 nurse Bhanwari Devi, leading to the sacking of minister Mahipal Maderna, a key suspect in the case, and his suspension from Congress.