Jaipur: By bringing his government out of turmoil, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has proved his political acumen of 40 years. The Bharatpur violence and the disappearance of a nurse, Bhanwari Devi, allegedly at the behest of one of the cabinet ministers, Mahipal Maderna, had turned controversial for the government. But his decision to seek resignations from all his cabinet colleagues even while expressing full confidence in the Chief Minister proved to be a master stroke.

Gopalgarh in Bharatpur was the epicentre of violence that erupted on September 14 when members of the Meo Muslim and Gujjar communities fought over public land. At least 10 people, mainly Muslims, were killed.

In the eyes of most analysts, Gehlot has not only been able to bring the government back on track but has also emerged from the crisis stronger.

“While all experts were of the view that Gehlot's political career was under the hammer and his days were numbered, he has come out stronger with the way he handled the crisis,” said a Congress party functionary.

The Chief Minister made all his cabinet colleagues resign.

“It was something new for the state. This in itself proves the political sharpness of the leader and his stature,” said SK Sharma, a keen watcher of Rajasthan's political issues.

Gehlot took no time to appoint his new cabinet team and show the door to five ministers, the majority of them tainted.

The ministers who lost their jobs included Ramlal Jat, Bhanwar Lal Meghwal and Bharonsilal Jatav.

Jat was recently in a controversy over hastening the autopsy of a woman who died under mysterious circumstances in Bhilwara district.

Jatav and his four sons landed in trouble for allegedly mining on forest land.

A court in Karauli district's Hindaun city ordered police to lodge an FIR against Jatav on October 1 for fraudulently changing the land use of forest land and getting nine mine leases allotted to his sons.

The idea behind Gehlot's move to drop a few of his cabinet colleagues was to prove that in his government, there is no place for controversial people.

“Though Gehlot took time to take action, in a way he has been successful in proving his point that he will not take things lightly and will take action against all erring members of his team,” said Sharma.

The Chief Minister has also hinted that if need be he may consider another reshuffle.

This is widely seen as a warning to his new team that if one does not perform or lands in controversy, then he or she should be prepared to lose the job.

Rajasthan goes to the polls in two years. His supporters say Gehlot does not want to leave any stone unturned to retain power.

Even in the reshuffle, the Chief Minister has kept caste combinations in mind.

“In the fresh line-up, Gehlot has inducted one Dalit minister and one Scheduled Tribe minister, two Jats and two Muslims, trying to give representations to the castes and communities which are traditionally Congress voters,” said another political analyst.

Another thing that benefits Gehlot is that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not been able to raise its voice on the episode involving the missing nurse.

Except for seeking Gehlot's resignation, the opposition party has not spoken a word against Maderna, a Jat leader, due to the danger of losing Jat community votes.

Jats are a dominating force in at least 40-50 constituencies, out of the 200 assembly constituencies in the state, and no political party wants to antagonize them.

But although Gehlot seems to be on a firm wicket as of now, voices of dissension over the reshuffle have started to surface in the Congress. But the worst seems to be over -- for now.

(Agencies)