A FREE SMARTPHONE FOR Mr SIDHU!
When the Captain Amarinder Singh government fulfills its promise of free 50 lakh smartphones to youth, it should provide one to tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who told mediapersons that he has no mobile phone and will soon get three phones and numbers, one each for his constituency, media and department. The meditation-loving politician likes to stay away from technology and had no internet at home. So far, he needed just the stars (astrology) for luck! But Sidhu’s participation in a comedy show as minister is already raising questions of propriety and conflict of interest. When in power, Sidhu will know it is not easy to have the cake and eat it too!
SUKHBIR PUTS UP A BRAVE FACE
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has issued a dictate to party men, asking them not to give ‘siropas’ at party meetings. “Stop the culture of giving siropas to everybody. People take our siropas and work for others,” the former deputy chief minister has been telling party supporters in thanksgiving meetings at different places in Punjab after the March 11 verdict. The SAD leader, whose party was at number three, then also tries to boost their morale. “No reason to feel down. Our party is out for five years to take rest. I think after running the government for 10 years everyone needed a rest,” he says, describing the regime change as “temporary charge” to the Congress for five years. “We have fed more to the people - grid, grants, schemes… tey ohna ney ulti kar ditti (and they have thrown up). Now people will see how the Congress government pulls back everything. Only Badal saab can help the people in true spirit (sic),” he then tells them.
A BADAL’S DISCONNECT WITH THE BADALS
A day after taking oath, newly appointed finance minister Manpreet Badal spoke on his disconnect with the Badal clan. “Manpreet, Badal parivaar vastey marr chukka hai” (Manpreet is dead for the Badal family),” he had told a news website while responding to query about his relations with his uncle Parkash Singh Badal and cousin Sukhbir Singh Badal. Manpreet had broken away from the Shiromani Akali Dal in 2011, quitting the party’s government in which he was finance minister. Is it political posturing or has he really severed ties with his beloved uncle? “I have not said hello to Sukhbir in six years,” he said.
CAPT BIOGRAPHY’S SALE SOARS
Capt Amarinder Singh’s ascendancy to the Punjab chief minister’s chair last week has had a welcome sideeffect. His biography, ‘The People’s Maharaja’ by Khushwant Singh that was released on February 21, has seen a spurt in sale so much so that a reprint has been ordered. Writer Khushwant is all smiles as the Captain’s elevation has triggered renewed interest in the book. “The feedback is that it’s an objective account. So everyone wants to know more about Amarinder’s life and times,” he says. A timely release, indeed
WOMAN POWER TO FORE
Women empowerment wasn’t quite on Punjab Congress’ manifesto but Amarinder Singh looks determined to make it happen this time. That’s the impression you get by looking at the new list of deputy commissioners. Five of the deputy commissioners are women. Gurpreet Sapra (SAS Nagar), Gurneet Tej (Rupnagar), Kanwalpreet Brar (Fatehgarh Sahib), Sonali Giri (Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar) and Neelima (Pathankot) all replaced male incumbents within hours of the new CM taking oath.
KHATTAR’S VICTORY JIG
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is seen as a calm and disciplined person. A video on social media showing Khattar dancing fervently on the massive victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh took all and sundry by surprise last week. There was also a buzz for days together that it was probably some lookalike, and not Khattar, in the video, but a senior party leader confirmed that it was indeed Khattar dancing with party office-bearers in Karnal. And, it was probably the scale of the party’s victory in UP that compelled the chief minister to dance.
VIRBHADRA’S SABRE LOVE
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, scion of erstwhile royal state of Rampur Bushahr, is fond of brandishing swords. The Students Association from Nankhari presented a sword to him the other day. Virbhadra, often addressed as ‘Raja Sahab’ by his underlings, put the sword back in the scabbard, but not before brandishing it. The students loudly cheered him.
HP BJP LEGISLATOR STUMPED
Seraj legislator Jai Ram Thakur got the taste of his own medicine when he hit out at the ruling Congress after the party’s dismal show in the Uttar Pradesh elections. The BJP MLA, who was participating in a discussion in the state assembly on the state budget, told the members that the Congress numbers were so low in UP that its MLAs could travel in a seven-seater vehicle. “The number of BJP legislators in Punjab is just two-three. They can ride a twowheeler,” pat came the reply from the treasury benches. The House broke into laughter.
ARKI MLAs ANGRY SIDE
Known for his cool demeanour, BJP legislator from Arki Govind Ram Sharma got infuriated when a ruling party leader made a remark against Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj. Chief parliamentary secretary Jagjivan Pal had made the remark, accusing Bhardwaj of praising the British. Sharma took offence to the remark, asking the CPS to withdraw it. Later, Bhardwaj also objected and speaker BBL Butail expunged the comment. However, the members were surprised to see Sharma’s angry side.
(CONTRIBUTED BY SUKHDEEP KAUR, GURPREET SINGH NIBBER, YOJANA YADAV, ARVIND CHHABRA, RAJESH MOUDGIL, GAURAV BISHT)