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Ashok Gehlot simplifies sports minister Ashok Chandna's 'dishonourable' post

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Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday played down talk of discord in his government after sports minister Ashok Chandna asked to be removed from his 'dishonourable' post. Chandna claimed the CM's principal secretary, Kuldeep Ranka, was interfering in his work and called the officer 'minister of all the departments'. Gehlot told reporters 'he (the minister) is under a lot of pressure'. "He is under a lot of work pressure. He might have come under tension and made a statement, we should not take it seriously," Gehlot told reporters.

"I am yet to speak with him."

Chandna's cabinet colleague, Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, offered a similarly placatory tone and said he would talk to him. "I believe CM will talk about the matter. It is the party's responsibility to take Ashok Chandna's tweet seriously."

Chandna had tweeted: "Honourable Chief Minister, I have a personal request to you… free me from this cruel ministerial post. Charge of all my departments should be given to Shri Kuldeep Ranka ji, because anyway he is the minister of all the departments. Thank you." Ashok Chandna is the MLA from the Bundi constituency. Chandna's outburst is another distraction for Gehlot and the Congress ahead of elections to four Rajya Sabha seats next month and the assembly in 2023. The Congress should win two and the BJP one, leaving the fourth up for grabs.

Rajasthan is one of only a handful of states the party rules on its own and - after watching the AAP snatch Punjab - can ill-afford to lose another state with Lok Sabha polls in 2024. The Congress also remains alert over the finely balanced power struggle between Gehlot and his younger rival, Sachin Pilot.

Chandna's tweet has the BJP attacking, with state boss Satish Poonia leading the charge. "The ship is sinking... trends for 2023 have started," he tweeted. "This has a pattern. Earlier, Ganesh Ghoghra sent resignation and now Chandna has offered the resignation. This impacts governance," he said.

Last week, Ghogra resigned as the Dungarpur MLA after a case was registered against him for creating a ruckus. He claimed his voice was being suppressed by the local administration.


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