Keen to meet Modi
Punjab industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal , who is travelling to attend the world’s largest industrial trade fair Hannover Messe 2015 in Germany, is more excited about bumping into Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to inaugurate it, than his state’s participation in the exhibition. “The tour is going to be beneficial because I hope to meet the top leader of the country and meeting a leader on a foreign land always helps,” said the thrilled Bharatiya Janata Party minister while talking about his foreign trip. When asked how his visit would help the state, Mittal was at a loss for words. “I am in-charge of the Punjab pavilion” was all the minister could say.
Trust deficit among babus
A few senior bureaucrats of Punjab have such a trust deficit among their own fraternity that even chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal does not want to believe them. In an official meeting last week, Kaushal told two IAS officers — MP Singh and Rakesh Verma — to get their pictures clicked along with the building on their official visits in connection with the skill development programme. “You will not only visit the institute, but will also get your picture clicked so that I can show to the chief minister that you guys had actually visited the place. It’s time you change your style of functioning. It’s not the governor house where you (MP Singh) remained posted for many years,” warned the chief secretary with a stern face.
Minister’s local connect
Union minister of state Piyush Goyal, who was in SAS Nagar on Sunday, was born in Mumbai. But he has a strong local connect. His father Ved Parkash Goyal, according to the minister, grew up in Ambala and studied under the streetlight about 70 years ago. Piyush, now the minister in-charge of power in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government, shared this bit while addressing students during the convocation of the Indian School of Business, to highlight his connect with the region.
Vij's Salman act on Twitter
Haryana health minister Anil Vij’s craftily-worded tweets may have flustered his colleagues and rivals, but the journalists seem to relish them. They don’t have to call up the minister or officials in his departments to find out about the decisions, as Vij@anilvijmantri routinely tweets about his official recommendations and decisions. When he proposed to change the name of a sports complex, the minister tweeted about it. After Vij backed IAS officer Ashok Khemka and promised to take up his transfer with chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar , his tweet, actually a dialogue from a Salman Khan action flick, was: “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di uske baad main apni bhi nahin sunta .” On Saturday, he tweeted on spying on Netaji’s family, suggesting “boycott” of all descendants of Jawaharlal Nehru. Congress leader Capt Ajay Singh Yadav demanded that the minister be sacked from the government. But Khattar, who likes to play safe on social media and otherwise, would probably want to say only this to his ‘adventuritter’ (an adventurous twitterer) colleague about his posts: NSFW AFAIK (Not safe for work as far as I know, in Twitter lingo).
No sweet pill for cane growers
Private sugar mill owners may have threatened to close their operations, but the state government does not seem keen to give them a hearing in a hurry. A proposal for imposing entry tax on sugar coming from other states to help the sugar industry is gathering dust in a government file. Asked to comment on the sugar industry’s plight, industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal was dismissive. “Nothing is going to happen to the sugarcane farmers and the sugar manufacturers. There is much time for the cane crop to arrive. Also, the state sugar industry is not producing much sugar,” said the minister, refusing to mouth sweet nothings.
Capt’s mail and Bajwa’s ‘new life’
A damning letter by former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to Congress chief Sonia
Gandhi could not stop her from appointing Partap Singh Bajwa as the party’s Punjab chief. But Congress circles are abuzz with rumours that a mail by Amarinder to Sonia, after news of Bajwa being replaced by senior MLA Lal Singh was “leaked”, has given his bête noire a new life. Amarinder is rumoured to have asked Sonia to define his role along with Lal Singh due to which the announcement was reportedly deferred. While Bajwa has since been gloating at having more lives than the cat’s nine, Amarinder has upped his stakes in the “old guard versus the new” battle within the party. He is now batting against the elevation of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to the top post. That Rahul had appointed Bajwa and thwarted his attempt to dislodge him is not the only provocation, the erstwhile Patiala royal is equally uneasy about taking orders from Rahul, who visited him as a school kid with his parents.
Admiring Shah’s accessibility
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah , in a communiqué sent to the party units across the country, has clarified that they do not need any prior appointments to see him. The communiqué from his office says he will be available at the party’s central office between 11am and 5pm on the first and third Monday of every month to meet the ‘karyakartas’ without prior appointment. The party workers from Punjab have posted the letter on WhatsApp groups and Facebook, admiring his “accessibility and openness”.
Penchant for ‘shayari’
After unseasonal spells of showers and hailstorm damaging crops across the state, the Haryana government ordered special girdawari (crop damage survey) and the revenue authorities promptly got going, asking the field officials to send their reports. A WhatsApp group was created for daily updates on crop damage. While the officers were told to only post girdawari-related messages on the group, not everyone heeded the advice. A few IAS officers found it hard to curb their penchant for shayari (poetry) on the social media and shared a few couplets. But the consolation was that sher-o-shayari did not catch on and most of the group members stuck to the job in hand.
The three-day state-level programme organised by the Haryana government for training of master trainers on the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign at Haryana Niwas in Chandigarh had some (un) invited guests last week — newspersons. The journalists were sent a written invite by the department of public relations. When the scribes reached the venue, they were not welcomed by the women and child welfare department officials. Inside the meeting hall, there were no seats for them, either. A few minutes later, the newspersons were told to return the folder containing the details of the three-day programme as well as the speakers. To top it all off, the event organisers still wanted media coverage after the goof up and kept sending their press notes through the PR department.
Mosquitoes vs crocodiles
The verbal duel between the Congress and the BJP has a new low in Haryana, with both sides calling each other names. In Rohtak to muster support for his party’s April 19 rally in Delhi to protest against the land acquisition ordinance, Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar described the BJP leaders as “machchar” (mosquitoes). “I will find a solution for BJP “machchars” and those weakening the Congress from within. “Unhone jitna khoon peena tha pee liya. Ab aur nahin,” he said. While his Congress detractors are silent, Manish Grover , BJP legislator from Rohtak, hit back by calling the Congress “magarmachhon ka dal (party of crocodiles)”. He alleged that when in power, the Congress had looted the people. “You can imagine who has sucked the blood of the people,” retorted the saffron party leader.
Red beacons atop heads
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) tried a novel way to protest against the “VIP culture” in Haryana the other day. Several party workers came to a meeting chaired by their leader Navin Jaihind wearing red beacons atop their heads with the help of rubber bands. When they reached the Raj Bhawan, they sought “special treatment and privilege” from the police and permission to go to the Haryana governor to submit a memorandum. Their logic: “We are VIPs with red beacons atop”. A few of them even made comical vocal sounds of hooters to symbolically show and sound the arrival of vehicles of VIP netas and babus. They kept the red beacons on their heads till the time they courted arrest. Mocking at the VIP culture, Jaihind was also heard telling his supporters: “If the bureaucrats and politicians are so keen on special privileges, why don’t they also wear red beacons atop their heads.”
Staying connected 24x7
Bureaucrats and others, who have their offices in the Haryana civil secretariats at Chandigarh, are cheerful. The reason: The state government has decided to provide Wi-Fi facility in the two buildings, besides Haryana Bhawan in Delhi. The facility will allow provide high-speed connectivity 24X7. The team, asked to install Wi-Fi, is in touch with their counterparts in the National Informatics Centre (NIC) at Delhi for security guidelines for the facility. Their past experience with internet in the government buildings has not been pleasant with some officials trying to access “restricted” websites sometimes.
Cricket on political turf
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal took personal digs at each other while discussing the sports bill. Virbhadra accused Dhumal of favouring his MP son Anurag Thakur -led Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA). “Zameen pita nay dee and putar nay lee (the father gave the land and the son accepted it),” he taunted Dhumal. The furious BJP leader hit back, accusing the CM of organi-sing sports tournament in memory of his father, Maharaja Padam Singh, and mother. Now it is Virbhadra’s turn to retort.
Smriti’s family outing
Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani recently travelled to Himachal Pradesh to inaugurate a central school at Una. During her four-day visit, the minister took some time off for her family and stayed at a private cottage in Palampur. She also went paragliding. In a tandem flight, the actor-turned-politician flew from Billing to Bir. Then, she dined with her family at a small café at Dharamkot village near McLeodganj, the abode of exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.
MLAs’ love for brooches
The MLAs target each other inside the House, but they have one thing in common: Their love for brooches. Dehra legislator and former irrigation minister Ravinder Singh Ravi , office-bearer of the Rajput Mahasabha, promoted the brooches bearing the swords and sun among the legislators of his community. While a number of MLAs sported brooches on their coats and jackets, the others got inquisitive, wanting to know more about insignias. Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal , Ravinder Singh Ravi, Bikram Singh Thakur, BK Chauhan and Baldev Tomar were among the BJP legislators who wore the brooches routinely. From the Congress side, Asha Kumari, Rohit Thakur, Sohan Lal Thakur, Ravi Thakur and Bhambur Thakur flaunted their brooches. Ravi even pinned one on CM Virbhadra Singh’s coat during the dinner hosted by him.
Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha speaker Brij Behari Lal Butail has always been courteous towards the opposition members in the House. However, he was targeted by the opposition legislators this time. They first staged a walkout against the speaker for his attitude and then gave a go by to the dinner hosted by him. Butail could not hide his pain and told the opposition MLAs they should have shed their acrimony inside the House. “The dinner was just a social gathering of legislators,” he said.
The ‘hulla-gulla’ CPS
He may be young and quiet, but chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) in the Himachal government Neeraj Bharti took his seniors by surprise towards the end of the assembly session when he turned aggressive and hit out at the opposition. He was seen vociferously taking on the rivals. Not that the opposition did not take note. “Yeh to CPS hulla-gulla hain (he has been appointed CPS for creating ruckus),” quipped former deputy speaker Rikhi Ram Kaundal.