EC’S ‘GABBAR STYLE’ CAMPAIGN
Taking a cue from Bollywood blockbuster film Sholay, the election commission (EC) is running an innovative campaign on social media to motivate the people of Punjab to cast their vote in the ensuing 2017 assembly polls. A 10-second animation video has Gabbar Singh asking an underling, Sambha, as to how many people voted in the 2012 assembly polls. “78% sardar,” pats comes the reply. “Bahut nainsaafi hai, es baar poora Punjab vote karega,” declares Gabbar. The clip has gone viral. Who is Gabbar in the poll panel – chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi or chief electoral officer, Punjab, VK Singh? A reporter of this newspaper put this query to Singh. “Let the people of Punjab decide this,” is what he said in response with a hearty laugh.
PUNJAB POLL DATES: CHAIWALA’ KNOWS MORE?
The poll dates for Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have been a subject of much speculation for the past several days. The questions everyone seems to be asking is: When are the state elections taking place? When is the model code of conduct being imposed? Asked if he has the answer, chief electoral officer, Punjab, VK Singh said he didn’t. “A chaiwala (tea vendor) outside the Election Commission of India’s office in Delhi knows more than anyone else,” he added. The poll dates are a well-kept secret.
BHATTAL’S LANGUAGE BARRIER
For Congress leader and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, English has been a big challenge. The veteran leader feels that had she been fluent in English, she would have been at a different level in politics. “The English language has been my weakness,” she told a reporter of this newspaper. But then her oratorical skills in her mother tongue, Punjabi, make up for it.
THE SAINI PHOBIA
The suspension of additional director general of police (ADGP) MK Tiwari, in the wake of Nabha jailbreak, woke up Sumedh Singh Saini, who was sleeping and snoozing ever since replaced as Punjab DGP by Suresh Arora in October 2015. Tiwari, an honest from the core cop, is a staunch Saini ‘bhakt’. Action against Tiwari, in police and in some Akali Dal circles, was seen as an attack on Saini too. Saini, the buzz is, summoned an aide of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and sent a ‘loaded’ message to Sukhbir. Soon, DGP Arora gave clean chit to Tiwari, who was reinstated within two weeks of suspension. The Saini phobia is such that when news of revoking ADGP Tiwari’s suspension was leaked to the Press, the government’s middlemen urged scribes to write that DGP Arora in his report had strongly defended ADGP Tiwari.
CONGRESS PLAYING NUMBERS GAME AGAIN?
After its defeat in 2012 Punjab polls, the one lesson Congress should have learnt was over-confidence can kill. During the ticket allocation, every party leader tried to ensure tickets for their kin and loyalists and later the team of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh too was trying to ensure only his “yes-men” win. The aspirants for ministerial berths too were trying to defeat each other as only 18 among them could become one. The tug-of-war between Amarinder, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s team and some party leaders during screening and election panel meetings has once again raised questions if the Congress was playing the number game again. Hopefully, to win and not lose the polls!
KEJRIWAL’S ‘TIJORI TOD BHANDA PHOD’ RALLY
After Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal decided to hold a rally against demonetisation in his home state of Haryana, his supporters have gone all-out to raise funds to make arrangements for the public meeting. The ‘Tijori Tod, Bhanda Phod’ rally will be held in Rohtak on January 1 to expose the BJP “conspiracy behind scrapping of high-value banknotes”. With only a few days left for the rally, AAP supporters have gone all-out to raise funds for the party, making innovative use of social media. “I will donate `5 per RT and `5 per follower to @HaryanaAap in nxt 24 hours (sic),” tweeted one of them. There are several others who have posted similar tweets for “honest politics”. But when Kejriwal holds his rally, most people would want to hear him on the river water row between Punjab and Haryana where he has been accused frequently shifting his position.
AGNIHOTRI’S SLIP OF TONGUE
Himachal Pradesh industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri, who was being cold shouldered by chief minister Virbhadra Singh for quite some time, heaped praise on ‘Raja Sahib’ the other day. “There is no bigger court than Raja ka darbar. I have learnt many things from him during my political career,” he said during a programme at Hotel Peterhoff in Shimla. But, then, in a slip of tongue, the minister said: “Humney file latkaney ka hunor insey seekha hai (I have learnt the art of delaying files from him”. He quickly realised his mistake. “Humney file niptaney ka hunor insey he seekha hai (I have learnt the art of processing files from him),” he said, making the correction.
WHEN SPEECH WAS CONSIDERED AS READ
hief minister Virbhadra Singh is known for his erudition. He usually speaks extempore when it comes to delivering speeches in English or Hindi. At a workshop on the state’s scheme for start-ups, the chief minister found it difficult to pronounce some ‘shudh (pure)’ Hindi words, though. He left his written speech midway, saying that it was lengthy and time taking. “The speech should be considered as read,” he told the audience.
THAKUR’S BJYM TENURE: KUDOS AND END
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah praised Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chairman Anurag Thakur at his Solan rally. Shah called Thakur the longest-serving chief of the party’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), much to the delight of his followers. But four days later, Poonam Mahajan, a young MP from Mumbai, replaced Thakur as president of BJYM, compelling his supporters to take the social media route to describe his tenure as “full of achievements”.
TOURISM BRAND AMBASSADOR OR IDEA DROPPED
The Himachal government spent three years to convince Bollywood ‘queen’ Kangana Ranaut to become brand ambassador of state’s tourism. But when she agreed, the idea was dropped. While the state government termed it a “costly affair”, Himachal Tourism Development Board Vijai Singh Mankotia attributed the failure to bureaucratic red-tapism. When asked whether the proposal would be reconsidered in future, Mankotia said the very idea of engaging a celebrity has been dropped. “I think the bureaucrats will not let it happen. May be they have dislike for Kangana or want someone else as brand ambassador,” he quipped.
(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Sukhdeep Kaur, Pawan Sharma, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)