The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Discontent in Rajasthan Cong

Jaipur, Jan. 18: Amid reports that state Congress chief Girija Vyas is being replaced while chief minister Ashok Gehlot is likely to survive, three senior party leaders have said such cosmetic changes will not help the party.

Former chief ministers Shiv Charan Mathur and Heera Lal Deopura and former AICC general secretary Nawal Kishore Sharma are sceptical of the possible revamp of the ministry. Mathur is leaving for New Delhi tonight or tomorrow morning to meet party president Sonia Gandhi who is reportedly returning to Delhi from Amethi tonight.

He said the Congress was turning a blind eye to the real problems it is facing by blaming the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) alone for the drubbing in the recent Assembly bypolls.

The former chief minister was referring to newspaper reports suggesting that Vyas would be axed and certain changes in the ministry, including appointment of one or two deputy chief ministers, effected in the state.

The actual problem was much deeper, he said, adding that an introspection was needed. The onus of the defeat in the recent bypolls was on the government, its functioning, policies and programmes and their implementation and not the PCC, which for all practical purposes was subservient to the government, he claimed.

Mathur admitted that the organisation would have to be toned up and should work on improving coordination with the government, but to say the PCC was solely responsible for the electoral outcome was not putting facts in the right perspective.

“I have sought an appointment with the party president to put forward my views and those of my colleagues,” Mathur told The Telegraph. He was told by Sonia’s office that as she was returning from Amethi tonight, she would not be available tomorrow and a meeting was possible only on Monday.

Replying to a question, Mathur said he would be failing in his duty if he did not apprise the party president of the correct perspective and ground realities.

Deopura, at whose residence the three leaders met in the past two days, said replacing the PCC chief was unlikely to make much of a difference.

Turning the heat on Gehlot, he said the chief minister as head of policymaking and implementation could not be absolved of his responsibilities.

Deopura also wondered how appointing one or two deputy chief ministers on caste lines or reshuffling the portfolios of ministers would bring about a change in the governance.

Sharma, a party veteran, echoed the two leaders, saying merely replacing the PCC chief would not be of any use unless corrective measures were introduced. These measures were required immediately after the party’s defeat last year, he added.

The chief minister’s camp is visibly jubilant. A member of the camp said Gehlot had not only survived the crisis but was also going to get rid of Vyas who had been posing problems for him.

The Gehlot camp is hopeful that the new PCC chief and the likely deputy chief minister would be of his choice.

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