Capt’s timing for spilling the beans
Why would Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh reveal at a recent TV show that he was all set to quit the party when the Congress high command let Partap Bajwa stay on. A restless Amarinder had then revealed as much to a few, but never on record. Party insiders see the timing as Amarinder again getting uneasy over him not being announced as the CM face even as he is braving the heat and dust of Punjab months before the elections. Though Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has come twice to Punjab in recent months, he has chosen to skip the much-awaited announcement. So as Amarinder works and Rahul holidays, the former Patiala royal wants some solace for the long hours of hard work!
Aam aadmi no more ‘khas’?
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was “khas” when it came to getting space in newspapers, many in the ruling SAD-BJP and the Congress would rue. That was till AAP decided to trumpet its “achievements” through full- page ads. The overdose has had its side effects. Also, the party courted controversies that questioned its very premise of “politics with ethics”. Now it is the AAP which is complaining that the Congress is getting undue publicity in newspapers. Has the media changed its stripes or the Congress beaten the AAP in creating buzz about its campaign sans the ads? After all, the AAP can’t be grudging Congress making headlines over appointment of Punjab in-charge!
Behind-the-scenes drama goes on
Punjab BJP chief Vijay Sampla and Congress MP from Ludhiana Ravneet Bittu shared the dais at a camp on Tibba road in Ludhiana last week. The two leaders, who distributed aids to persons with disabilities, were all smiles and exchanged pleasantries. Behind the scenes, their supporters were locked in a war over hoardings. Seeing that Congress supporters had put their hoardings at the entry gate to welcome Bittu, sloganeering BJP activists got perturbed. They immediately removed them and put their own hoardings.
Moral lessons in Haryana schools
Governments never cease to amaze. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana will launch its moral education books for students of classes 6 to 12 in government schools across the state on July 5. Haryana and Punjab governor Kaptan Singh Solanki and Himachal Pradesh governor Acharya Dev Vrat are among those expected to attend the state-level event. But the launch programme is being held a tad late, though. The moral education books of most classes have already been delivered to children in schools in the past three months. The books developed by State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) have Saraswati Vandana (prayer) as the opening chapter and contain separate chapters on yoga, ‘shlokas’ from Vedas and Bhagvad Gita, freedom fighters, ancient Indian scientists, festivals and motivational stories or poems. Also, the books contain quotes from Bible, Quran and Guru Granth Sahib. In the foreword, gratitude has been expressed to Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas chief Dinanath Batra, a one-time RSS pracharak, for guidance given by him in development of these books.
As political parties targeted each other on the land deals inquiry report in Haryana last week, the Congress scored a self goal. The party, in its eagerness to defend Sonia Gandhi’s businessman son-in-law Robert Vadra, fielded former minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav. The irrepressible leader, who participated in a debate on a popular television channel, quickly lost his cool, going on the offensive from the word go. Yadav levelled allegations against the retired judge probing the irregularities in land transactions, but could not produce evidence. When confronted by others, he repeatedly used words like “liar” and “blackmailer” for one panellist. At one point, the anchor had to even ask him: “Who are you calling liar now?” Later, a reference to late Indira Gandhi enraged the Congress leader further. “Tu chup kar,” he told another panellist. And, stunned panellists did not know how to respond.
Haryana’s ‘Twitter mantri’
Since Haryana health minister Anil Vij is always eager and quick to air his feelings on Twitter, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Naveen Jaihind chose to repeatedly call him “Twitter mantri’’ at a media interaction in Chandigarh a few days ago. He accused the minister of being silent on serious issues such as unemployment. Vij, however, does not seem bothered and continues to take digs at whoever and whenever he chooses. The latest being Congress leader Randeep Surjewala who spoke out against the very constitution of the Dhingra commission of inquiry into dubious land deals, describing it as being “against norms”. “Jis aadmi ko Rajya Sabha chunav mein apni vote dalni nahi aati voh Surjewala, Dhingra ayog cabinet mein paas kiye bina banaya ka jhoota prachar kar raha hai,’’ Vij said meaning that Surjewala, who did not even know how to vote for Rajya Sabha election, was spreading lies about Dhingra commission. “Congress ko jhuth bolna ab chhod dena chahiye. Janata ki yadgar bhi hai aur voh ab samajhdar bhi hai (Congress should now stop lying to people as their memory is good and they understand everything),” he tweeted.
Virbhadra wooing the young
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh recently held a public meeting at Kumarsain, home turf of octogenarian irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes, after a gap of almost two decades. Virbhadra was accompanied by his son, Himachal Youth Congess president Vikramaditya Singh, which fuelled speculation about the Congress fielding the latter from Kumarsain. Vikramaditya also told the crowd that young voters hold the key to elections since they constitute a substantial segment of electorate. His emphasis on youth power left everyone wondering about his future plans.
Dhumal’s takes couplet route to slam CM
BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal does not miss any opportunity to hit out at chief minister Virbhadra Singh. This time, he has criticised the CM for not being thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his benevolence towards the state. The former CM had also recently issued a statement loaded with couplets to hit out at at the chief minister. “Jawani mein chahe josh na ho, baaton me chaahe hosh na ho laakh nuks bhale ho insaan mein par vo ahsaan faramosh na ho,” he said.
Bali’s witty side
Political manoeuvring is not the only trait of firebrand transport minister GS Bali. He has a witty side too and occasionally laughs his heart out, but it is overshadowed by his flamboyance. The other day, Bali was narrating a recent incident where he slipped and hurt his limbs, suffering minor bruises. When asked whether he fell while showing off his cricketing skills that he had shown at the inauguration ceremony of a local tournament recently, the minister gave a witty response. “Oh! It was a nullah (drain). I can never fall in cricket and politics,” he said with a smile. “I am heavyweight. If I fall someday, it would only be under my own weight.”
Free for all at HP project launch
Himachal politicians seem to have found new things to carry on their battles. Having put real issues on the back burner, leaders of the Congress and the BJP are fighting over inauguration of small projects, flexing their muscles and even exchanging blows. When Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (HPSPCB) chairman Kuldeep Singh Pathania was inaugurating a primary health centre (PHC) on his home turf, Bhatiyat in Chamba district, BJP supporters led by local MLA Vikram Singh Jaryal stopped him. In no time, the PHC compound was turned into kickboxing ring as a brawl ensued between supporters of the two groups. They traded solid blows. Pathania, it is learnt, was on losing side.
HP guv’s kitchen garden Governor Acharya Dev Vrat
is known for his liking for farming and allied activities. The governor, after rearing cows in Governor House, has now set up a kitchen garden in Barnes’ court for growing organic vegetables. The governor was on a private visit to Mauritius where also he promoted the concept of ‘zero-budget farming’.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Aneesha Sareen, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)