Taking digs at SAD
The horrific bus incident in Moga has given the political parties a chance to go after the ruling SAD. In the midst of dharnas, politicians are enjoying taking digs at deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, whose party held a protest at Baghapurana, said that having seized transport business among others, Sukhbir had started taking 50% share from samosa-walas as had happened in Patiala. “Pappu samose-wala din di kamai Rs 5,000 si par Sukhbirji nu samose khila ke te uhna naal photo khichwa ke Rs 2,500 reh gayi (Pappu samosa-wala’s income dropped from Rs 5,000 to 2,500 after he made Sukhbir taste his samosas and got a picture clicked).” Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, who also staged a dharna, took a jibe as his mike was silenced by power outage. “Lagda hei saadi awaaz lokan ton dur rakhan layi pehla cable gayab kitta, hun bijli hi gayab kar ditti taki mike ton lokan tak awaaz na pahunche (Having blacked out cable network so that people are not able to see protests against the Badals, now the power supply has been disrupted so that our voice does not reach the people).”
Politicians sometimes use phrases and jargons that rhyme well or get them space in the papers, irrespective of whether their audiences comprehend them or not. When he met the farmers whose wheat produce had not been lifted by the procurement agencies in Khanna grain market the other day, Congress leader Sunil Jakhar, also leader of opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, said the NDA’s (National Democratic Alliance) DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) was not made for the farmers. The jargon was beyond the comprehension of most farmers, their leaders and commission agents. DNA carries hereditary material in the nucleus of the cells of living organisms. While his words made a good sound, Jakhar should have explained the meaning to the awestruck farmers.
All about timing
Politics is all about timing. Congress leader and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh came in support of “Bains brothers” – Independent MLAs Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains — from Ludhiana. The two brothers, who have been speaking against illegal sand mining, were booked and sent to jail. “Poor guys are bearing the brunt,” the Congress leader told reporters in Khanna, expressing his support. The Bains brothers once gave outside support to the SAD-BJP coalition government and were even considered close to the top brass of the SAD.
CM asserts himself
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is no “super boss”, but he does appear to be trying, albeit slowly, to assert his position. Revenue and disaster management minister Capt Abhimanyu had scheduled a press conference last week to share information on compensation to farmers for crop damage. The public relations department sent out invites on April 27 for the press meet. A few hours later, fresh invites were mailed, stating that the CM would also address the conference. The chief minister’s office sent messages to some top officers late in the night, asking them to come prepared. Besides Khattar and Capt Abhimanyu, agriculture minister OP Dhankar also showed up at the press conference. While Khattar did most of the talking, the revenue minister, who was to address the journalists as per the original plan, did not speak much.
Making staff learn
Bureaucrats in Haryana often gripe about the lack of capability of their junior staff, blaming recruitments made during successive regimes, but they do little about it. A picture of a revenue department file, containing the leave request by a clerk, went viral on WhatsApp last week. “I have go to Delhi attend the maries Cajun Brooder. You are requested to grant me three days causal leave,” he wrote. His boss – a secretaryrank IAS officer – ignored the request and instructed the clerk to “write five times - marriage of cousin brother”, instead. The clerk was also asked to send a fresh leave request thereafter. The picture had gone viral after it first surfaced on the IAS officers’ group on the messaging app. Though the government offices are no classrooms, this is perhaps the only way to make the staff learn.
Taking a cue from the BJPled National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, the saffron party’s government in Haryana also launched on Saturday the Aadhaar-based biometric attendance system in select offices. The plan is to install small biometric devices in all offices across the state by July. Though the muchneeded initiative is aimed at accountability and transparency, besides checking absenteeism, many employees are upset, fearing it to become a nightmare.
Their grouse is the refusal of some bosses to stick to office timings (9 am to 5 pm) or work schedules and tendency to operate in fits and starts. “I come at 9 am, but cannot leave before 7 pm and have to stay back till 9 pm sometimes. We had to come to office last weekend to prepare a list of the government’s achievements in first six months,” grumbled an officer. To make matters worse, a few bosses prefer to spend their day in office even on weekends and national holidays rather than staying at home, forcing the staff to do so as well.
Journos kept waiting
The BJP government in Haryana, which harps on culture and traditions, deviated from its favourite sermon the other day when CM ML Khattar held a press conference in Chandigarh to spell out the achievements of his six-month rule. Like his predecessors, Khattar, who wound up his interaction with the newspersons quickly, was expected to join them at lunch hosted by him. But neither Khattar, nor any of half-a-dozen top officials accompanying him were seen there, much to the distaste of some journalists. A few journalists left the spot after waiting for the hosts. The CM and his team came after about 15 minutes and had lunch with the remaining scribes.
Joys and sorrows
Abdul Gaffar Qureshi, newly-appointed chairman of the Haryana Congress’ Minorities Cell, had brought laddoos at his press conference at the HPCC office in Chandigarh last week to announce his coronation. At the press briefing, he also observed two-minute silence, mourning the demise of the mother of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the deaths due to the earthquake in Nepal. Once the press briefing was over, his associates asked the reporters not to forget the laddoos and tea kept for them in the courtyard. Joys and sorrows, they say, come together.
Better late than never
The first-time BJP government in Haryana initially appeared to be remarkably conscious about punctuality. The chief minister, ministers and most other leaders were dot on time, be it an official function or a press conference. Such was their respect for timekeeping that in case ML Khattar was not able to be there in time, he would send a cabinet colleague of his. But it’s not the same any longer. While agriculture minister OP Dhankar has arrived late at his recent press conferences more than once, finance minister Capt Abhimanyu was late for a poetry book release function by half an hour. Khattar himself came more than 20 minutes late to a press conference he had convened to list out achievements of his government.
The tweet war between health minister health minister Anil Vij and Congress leader Capt Ajay Singh Yadav may not be of much political consequence, but it is surely getting foul and furious. On April 28, Vij tweeted: “Rahul Gandhi ke railgadi mein sehme hue, darre hue bacche ke tarah baithe hue ki samachar patron mein tasveer dekh kar aisa laga jaise koi bachcha ghar se bhaag aya ho (Seeing in newspapers picture of Rahul Gandhi sitting in a train like a scared child I felt as if some child had run away from home).” The nasty dig at Rahul, who undertook the train journey to meet the Punjab farmers, infuriated Yadav. “Anil Vij before using unkind words about Rahul should realise that he looks like a beggar who needs few coins and immediate bath (sic),” he retorted on Twitter. On Sunday, Vij made a post (without naming anyone) that he did not have to respond to everything. “If a mad dog bites a man, it is not necessary the score get settled only when the man bites the dog,” he added. All eyes are now on how long their parties would allow such ugly spats on social media.
The state executive of Himachal BJP met at a time when equations within the party are changing rapidly following Jagat Prakash Nadda’s induction into the union cabinet as health minister. New permutations and combinations are taking place in the party, dominated by former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal hitherto, sensing the mood of the party bigwigs. Nadda’s proximity to national president Amit Shah, who referred to the health minister as his closest friend, is no secret. What showed their strong bonding is that Shah took Nadda along when he went to pay obeisance at the Chamunda temple near Dharamsala. Shanta Kumar and Dhumal were present in the hill town, but Shah preferred the company of his pal.
Lessons from Gujarat
Himachal Tourism Promotion Board vice-chairman(retd) seems impressed with Gujarat’s tourism and civil aviation minister Saurabh Bhai Patel. The minister holds the charge of as many as seven departments — finance, energy and petrochemicals, mines, cottage industries, salt industries, printing and stationery and planning. Mankotia, who has held the tourism portfolio in the past and authored several books, had gone to Gujarat for a tieup for promotion of temple tourism in the state, but has come back full of praise for the minister. “The meeting was a learning experience. I learnt so much from him. I wish we had some ministers like him in Himachal,” says the 1962 war veteran.
Resorting to wit
When top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh were huddled together during their two-day state executive meeting, one of them drew state unit chief Satpal Satti’s attention towards the absence of a senior leader from the crucial meets of the party, especially the ones held in the state capital, Shimla. The witty young leader, who loves to quote Punjabi and Himachali proverbs, quipped: “Budhon ko sab maaf hota hai. Baarat teh jawana naal hi hundi hai,” (The mistakes of elders are always forgiven. It’s the young who make the party lively). The senior leader had also been conspicuous by his absence from the function held to crown Satti as the Himachal BJP chief three years ago.
CS set to return
Chief secretary P Mitra is on medical leave for three weeks after he suffered brain haemorrhage. The IAS officer was first hospitalised at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, and then went to Delhi for recuperation. While his phone has not stopped ringing with friends and well-wishers calling up to enquire about his well-being and expressing a desire to visit him, Mitra has been telling them not to waste time in calling up or travelling all the way to visit him as it would affect the government’s efficiency. Though CM Virbhadra Singh seems mighty impressed with the functioning of officiating chief secretary Vineet Chaudhary, Mitra is expected to return to work this week.
Banking on controversy
Kangra Central Co-operative Bank, the biggest bank in rural areas of the state, has had its share of controversy. The cooperative bank was again in the news when its managing director Rakhil Kahlon imposed a gag order on the staff, directing them to desist from talking to journalists. Kahlon has been known to be against her subordinates “mixing with” mediapersons, but what raised everyone’s hackles was that her orders went online and were even uploaded on the bank’s website.