Rajasthan ministers Raghu Sharma, Harish Choudhry offer to quit to focus on organisation roles in party

Harish Chaudhary was recently made AICC in-charge of Punjab (Image credit: Social media)
Harish Chaudhary was recently made AICC in-charge of Punjab (Image credit: Social media)

Prakash Bhandari

Two of Ashok Gehlot’s Cabinet ministers, who have been entrusted with the responsibilities of two states that would go for Assembly polls next year, have offered to quit their posts as minister under the “one person-one post” norm.

Medical & Health Minister Raghu Sharma, had been made AICC in-charge of Gujarat, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, while Harish Choudhry, the Minister for Revenue has been made the in-charge for Punjab.

The AICC made a departure by appointing these two ministers from Rajasthan as in-charge of the two states though they are not AICC general secretaries.

Though the two ministers are still discharging their role in the state, they have already conveyed to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot that they would be too involved with their assignments in the two states.

The Gehlot Cabinet is likely to be expanded after the two Vidhan Sabha by-polls in the state in Vallabhnagar and at Dhariyawad. In all likelihood Gehlot would relieve the two ministers.

“I am grateful to Rahul Gandhi ji for entrusting me with the responsibility of Punjab where I would take the baton from Harish Rawat, who was the AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab. Rawat ji would be busy for the Uttrakhand Assembly elections and wanted to be relieved of his responsibility to work full time in his home state Uttarkhand. I am in Punjab and have taken up the job to ensure that the party retains power,” Choudhry said.

“I always preferred to work in organisation and when I was a member of Lok Sabha from Barmer I worked a secretary of the AICC. In 2018, I was asked to contest the Vidhan Sabha election and after the party came to power, I was made a minister by Ashok Gehlot ji. While serving as a minister, Rahul ji asked me to be a member of the three-member committee to look after Punjab affairs and I devoted myself fully to work with Harish Rawat ji following the party’s directions. I am sure the party, which is united today, would come back to power as the Opposition is a divided lot and the Congress would come back because of its policy on farmers and the good job done by the Congress government in the state,” he added.

Choudhry said that the party is getting rejuvenated and is equipping itself for the forthcoming electoral battle and the people of Punjab would collectively crush the designs of the Opposition.

Choudhry, as an observer, made personal contact with each party MLA to know their feedback. He got fully involved in his job and had to face the wrath of Capt Amarinder Singh. But Choudhry, who rose from student’s politics to first become a member of Lok Sabha and is known for his organisational skills, managed to team up well with Harish Rawat to find solution to the Punjab crisis.

“I am working in close association with both Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chief Minister Channi. I am sure our efforts would see the Congress retaining power. People are going to vote for Congress as only the Congress is in a position to give political stability. The farmers of Punjab are with the Congress and they have lauded the role the party played when it opposed the farm laws,” said Choudhry.

Raghu Sharma, who has played a very long innings in the Rajasthan Congress and has led various frontal organisations of the party, has a doctorate in management. He earned kudos for the state with his deft handling of the Corona pandemic, so much so that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the initiatives taken by the Rajasthan government to fight the pandemic on a war footing. If Rajasthan became a role model in that, it was because of the leadership provided by Raghu Sharma.

Like Harish Choudhry, Raghu Sharma also emerged as a leader after a stint in the politics of Rajasthan University.

“I was asked by the party to go to Gujarat and I had to obey the party’s order. I was called by Rahul ji to meet him and was asked to take up the Gujarat assignment. I dutifully accepted my leader’s orders. As far as my present position as state Health Minister, my preference would be to devote myself fully to the Gujarat affairs. A ministerial position has no meaning when given the organisational task. I have already met the grassroot level workers of the party and found that they are hell-bent for a change in Gujarat. Gujarat has been ruled by the BJP for the past 20 years. The people are looking for a change and change the rulers there as the BJP over the years have failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people. The ruling BJP is also facing an anti incumbency party,” he said.

“The Congress is not working on casteist politics and it would go and seek the support of each section of the society to overthrow the BJP government. I have received a wonderful response from the party cadre who have been telling me that the “BJP is beatable “. With this confidence, I would plan my strategy for Gujarat and am happy that Ashok Gehlot ji is going to guide me as he has played a key role in the last Assembly election when he served as the in-charge of the state.” said Raghu Sharma.

Interestingly, the BJP has made Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as the party’s in-charge for Punjab. Thus, two Marwaris – Choudhry and Shekhawat – would cross swords in Punjab.

Rajasthan is likely to witness cabinet expansion and the Minister of Education Govind Singh Dotasara, who is also the Pradesh Congress chief, in all likelihood, would be asked to continue in the latter position only.

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