Flattering the CM
Akali leaders compete with one another to be in the good books of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. The practice was earlier restricted to celebrating his birthday. But many senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) tried to make the most of the opportunity when the Padma Vibhushan was conferred on the veteran leader. While former cabinet minister Hira Singh Gabria and SAD’s Ludhiana district president Madan Lal Bagga distributed laddoos, irrigation minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon went a step ahead by urging the BJP government at the Centre to name the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to be set up in the state after Badal. Each one of them took turns issuing press statements to make sure their efforts did not go unnoticed by the chief minister.
Amritsar cops never miss an opportunity to get publicity. Be it a small recovery or any arrest, they are always eager to advertise their “achievements”. But the high-profile cable operator’s suicide case has got them ducking. When they made the arrests, the city cops were first reluctant to get the photographs of suspects done. Then, the police officials tried to dodge the media queries. Usually, the conference hall used by the police for press conferences gets jam-packed with cops struggling to find space. They put an extra row of chairs to accommodate their men. But the same enthusiasm was missing during the press meet on the suicide case. While top cops tried to stay away, others were not too keen either.
Keeping friendship aside
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who was in Chandigarh on Saturday as part of the party’s plans to oppose the land acquisition bill, candidly took questions on his friendly ties with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. The CM is a senior leader, but had taken the wrong stance on the bill, the former Union minister told reporters at his press conference. Jairam said he had had discussions on the bill with the Akali MPs while having coffee with them in Parliament. Asked what the SAD members’ response was to his views on the bill, the Congress leader sighed: “Dosti dosti reh gayee, coffee coffee reh gayee, par unhone bill par hara button daba diya”, meaning that his friendship with Akali MPs remained aloof like his coffee sessions with them as they preferred to press the green button in support of the bill at the end.
Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh showed his witty side during his brief interaction with reporters the other day. Though he flatly refused to answer questions on AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the former minister was bombarded with questions on the leader missing in action for over a month. He took the shield of humour, speaking with his twisted lips, facial expressions and gestures to avoid them. When nothing worked, he took a dig at reporters, saying “Aap ghumaa phiraa ke phir iss swal pe aa jaate hain” (you tend to return to the same question time and again). Jairam also dodged questions on bickering in the party units in Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, saying he was just a small soldier of the party and only state in-charge Shakeel Ahmad should be asked about these things.
Ruffling the govt
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his ministerial colleagues have repeatedly talked about setting up a commission of inquiry to look into the DLF-Robert Vadra land deals. The result: some BJP leaders have started believing that such an inquiry panel has been set up. The other day, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy @Swamy39 even tweeted to express his happiness. “Happy that the Haryana government has appointed a commission into CAG findings on Vadra,” he posted. Only to be repudiated by ‘whistleblower’ IAS officer Ashok Khemka. “No commission of inquiry has been appointed so far,” the bureaucrat tweeted in response within hours. There is no dearth of those who believe that the IAS officer’s tweets also upset the powers that be in the state.
Not relying on Internet
HP social justice minister Dhani Ram Shandil struggled in the Vidhan Sabha when BJP legislators, one after the other, wanted to know details of social security pensions during the Question Hour. Shandil advised former deputy speaker Rikhi Ram Kaundal to check the department website. “Agar saarey jawab Internet se hi aaney hain, phir hum Vidhan Sabha mein sawal kyon karen (If we have to get all answers from Internet, then why should we ask questions in the state assembly,” replied Kaundal.
Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh has had a long innings in politics, but he is not so tech-savvy. When the CM launched the e-Vidhan application for mobile phones the other day, Vidhan Sabha speaker Brij Bihari Butail struggled to explain to him the use of Wi-Fi dongles distributed to legislators free. “Yeh kya hota hai, yeh to bahut chhota hai (What is this? This is too small),” asked the chief minister. Dalhousie legislator Asha Kumari, who is active on social networking sites, quickly took out her tablet to acquaint Virbhadra with the functioning of the Wi-Fi device.
There appears to be no end in sight for the ongoing fight between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP to take credit for development works. During his visit to Paonta Sahib (Sirmaur) recently, chief minister Virbhadra Singh laid the foundation of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM). While local legislator Karnesh Jung installed hoardings to express gratitude to the CM for the premier institute, former BJP MLA Sukhram Chaudhary also put up posters and hoardings, crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the management institute.
CM Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditiya Singh, head of Himachal Youth Congress, was seen in the visitors’ gallery in the Vidhan Sabha along with his “boss”, All-India Youth Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, during the budget session. While the ruling Congress members were seen trying to impress Warring, who is considered close to AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Vikramaditya kept on chewing gum throughout, much to the surprise of the party legislators.