Rajasthan minister vs CM’s principal secy: Latest in Congress MLAs, babus face-off

In an move, Chandna took to Twitter Thursday to express his anguish, asking CM Gehlot to “free” him from his “humiliating post of a minister” and hand over his portfolios to Ranka, who, he said, was “the minister of all the departments anyways”.

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The CM said Friday that the minister’s tweet should not be taken seriously as he might be under pressure due to his workload. He told reporters that Chandna was going to organize a “Rural Olympics” in the state, adding “He (Chandna) has immense responsibility, so it is possible that he may have come under tension and commented. It shouldn’t be taken too seriously, (I) will talk to him.”

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While he is the first minister to openly take on a top state bureaucrat, Chandna has joined a growing list of the ruling Congress legislators, who have gone after the state bureaucracy and, by extension, their own party government. They include Divya Maderna, Ganesh Ghogra, Rajendra Singh Bidhuri and Ramlal Meena. This list also includes Sanyam Lodha, an Independent MLA, who is one of Gehlot’s advisors.

Following Chandna’s bid to take aim at the CM’s principal secretary, parallels have been drawn with a similar situation during the erstwhile BJP dispensation led by Vasundhara Raje, when the then top bureaucrat in the CM’s Office, Tanmay Kumar, also used to draw the ire of the saffron party legislators and ministers.

Here is a look at some legislators, mostly from the Congress, who have been up in arms against the Gehlot dispensation’s formidable bureaucracy for various reasons.

Divya Maderna, MLA

During a debate in the Assembly in March, Divya Maderna, who is a Congress MLA from Jodhpur’s Osian constituency, had said, “The whole department of PHED (public health engineering department) is run by its principal secretary.” Making a reference to PHED minister Mahesh Joshi, she said, “I am very sorry to say, ministers are just rubber stamps.”

Targeting the PHED officials, she said there had not been an improvement in the situation despite her best efforts. She said, “(Ex-CM) Raje was a good leader, her decision-making was good too…but who gave the slogan ‘Modi tujhse bair nahi, Vasundhara teri khair nahi’ (Modi, we don’t have grudges against you , but Vasundhara will not be spared),” accusing the “arrogant, ruthless and corrupt bureaucracy” of claim coming up with this slogan.

Osian MLA Divya Maderna. (Express photo)

She blamed the state bureaucracy for the Raje regime’s “ouster”, charging that bureaucrats were now trying to do the same vis-a-vis the Gehlot government.

Recently, after an FIR was registered by Delhi Police against minister Mahesh Joshi’s son Rohit for allegedly raping a woman, Maderna said, “I have serious questions for DGP regarding police administration. Why was the FIR not registered by Rajasthan Police? DGP must immediately direct… departmental inquiry against officers who refused to register FIR.”

When the Rajasthan Police replied to her tweet saying they did not receive any complaint, Maderna said this was an “unreasonable” reaction. The “officers who denied FIR will certainly not forward any such complaint either”, she added.

Sanyam Lodha, MLA

An Independent MLA from Sirohi district’s Sirohi constituency, Sanyam Lodha, who is close to Gehlot, has moved the breach-of-privilege motions against the home and the revenue departments for not taking action in various cases despite giving an assurance to the Assembly. Gehlot holds the home portfolio.

He said in response to a motion drawing attention to the lodging of an “innocent person” in jail in Sirohi, senior minister Shanti Dhariwal had assured the House that action will be taken within 15 days, but nothing has been done in over two months.

Lodha moved his second breach-of-privilege motion against the revenue department. In February 2020, he had raised the issue of an alleged land conversion scam in the House and was assured of action, which has not been taken so far.

Dheeraj Gurjar, former MLA

Gurjar is currently the Rajasthan Seeds Corporation chairman and is known to be close to top Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi. He said Wednesday, “Officers never belong to any government; they belong to power and themselves. And when they join hands with the Opposition parties to save their chair, then they are digging the grave of the government. If not identified in time, any government will have to face dire consequences.”

Ganesh Ghogra, MLA

A day after he was named in an FIR for allegedly locking up the SDM and other government officials, the Congress MLA from Dungarpur’s Dungarpur constituency, Ganesh Ghogra, who is also the Rajasthan Youth Congress president, submitted his resignation as a legislator to the CM last week.

In his resignation letter, Ghogra stated: “It is with regret that I have to say that I am a ruling party MLA yet it appears that the Rajasthan government is ignoring me… The officials in the local administration are not ready to listen to me either , while there is an attempt to stifle my voice which raises issues of my constituents.”

Ramlal Meena, MLA

After Ghogra shot off his resignation letter, Ramlal Me, a Congress MLA from the Pratapgarh constituency, came out in his support, saying that “stifling Ghogra’s voice means stifling the voice of the people. The MLA always wants that the work of the people is done in time. And one gets angry at laxity. Even in Pratapgarh, some police officials are looting…”

Rajendra Singh Bidhuri, MLA

For the last couple of days, a video has been doing the rounds, wherein Congress MLA from Chittorgarh’s Begun seat, Rajendra Singh Bidhuri, is purportedly saying at a public meeting that Gehlot was scared that his minister will go to jail, and hence was not opting for a CBI inquiry into the REET paper leak case.

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