Jaipur: With Mahipal Maderana sacked from the Rajasthan cabinet over his alleged involvement in the disappearance of nurse Bhanwari Devi, at least three other ministers are also likely to be axed or their portfolios changed in the near future.
Maderana`s ouster Sunday is one of the steps taken by Congress Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to help his government wriggle out of controversies surrounding his ministers. A clean-up seems imminent.
Water resources minister Maderana allegedly features in a CD showing him in a compromising position with the missing nurse, who it is widely believed may have been murdered.
Other factors, including the displeasure of the minority community after Bharatpur`s Gopalgarh violence and some ministers` involvement in corruption, have also forced the Congress leadership in New Delhi to put things in order before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next year.
Party sources say a cabinet reshuffle is likely.
The ministers in the line of fire are Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal, Food and Civil Supply Minister Babulal Naagar, Agriculture Minister Bharosi Lal Jatav and possibly Minister for Mining and Environment Ramlal Jaat.
Dhariwal is being directly targeted by the Meo Muslim community here after the Gopalgarh violence that claimed 10 lives, the majority of them Muslims, and left 21 injured Sep 14.
The Meos are demanding his resignation. "Dhariwal is likely to be replaced. It is possible he will continue to hold the urban development and housing portfolio," said a source.
A lower court in Jaipur recently ordered police to lodge an FIR against Nagar and some policemen on charges of threatening, thrashing and keeping a man in illegal custody.
Rameshwar Lal Chaudhary, an ex-sarpanch, had also lodged a complaint some months back with the state`s anti-corruption bureau (ACB) against Nagar for alleged corruption. He alleged that minister attempted to hush him up.
Jaatav and his four sons have landed in trouble for mining on forest land.
As for Jaat, hastening the postmortem of a woman who died under mysterious circumstances proved costly for him.
While he was allegedly present at the mortuary at a hospital in Bhilwara, the district collector gave special permission for the autopsy to be conducted at 2 a.m. Sep 29.
The woman, Parsi Devi, was the wife of Bhilwara Dairy`s president Ratan Lal Choudhary.
"In the cabinet reshuffle, the focus will be on possible damage to the Congress` Jat vote bank done by Maderana`s outster. He and his father Parasram Maderana hold sway over the Jat community which are a dominant force in 40-50 assembly constituencies," said a senior Congress leader.
He added that Maderana was likely to be succeeded by some other prominent Jat leader. Four-time legislator Shravan Kumar is one of the frontrunners.
"The names which are doing the rounds for ministerial berths include Ramnarayan Meena and Shravan Kumar, Bhagwan Sahay Saini and present assembly speaker Dipendra Singh Shekhwat," said the Congerss leader.
He added that the legislator from Srimadhopur constituency Dipendra Singh has been lobbying for a cabinet berth for a long time as he is not happy with his present responsibility.