Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir
Badal’s media adviser takes on Kejriwal on Twitter
The media adviser to the Punjab chief minister had an interesting set of retorts to the three-part tweet of AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal on former MP Navjot Singh Sidhu. He picked up sentences from Kejriwal’s tweets and re-wrote them to give his take on what the AAP leader said and what he meant. Here is a sample:
Kejriwal: Navjot Sidhu is great person
What he meant: Brutus is an honorable man
Kejriwal: It is my duty to remove rumors about Navjot Sidhu joining AAP.
What he meant: These are just rumours.
Kejriwal: Navjot Sidhu has put forward no preconditions
What he meant: Just unconditional surrender
Kejriwal: I respect him a great cricketer
What he meant: But I am not making a cricket team here
Kejriwal: I will always respect Navjot Sidhu whether he joins AAP or not
What he meant: Let’s part as friends. Good bye and good luck
Booze odour becomes unbearable for Kejri
Telling a person about offensive breath is considered ‘bad manners’. But, the manners take a back seat if someone smells of alcohol at the break of the dawn. There is a buzz in political circles: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was touring Punjab. After Amritsar, the AAP boss reached Sangrur and it was early morning when he began his journey of the hinterland. An AAP leader also boarded the car dutifully to accompany him. The car was packed to capacity. The air inside the car was awful. Kejriwal began coughing and wheezing. Immediately, the windows were rolled down. But there was no respite. The Delhi CM lost patience and politeness. He wanted to know who the culprit was. The offender was soon identified without much investigation. The boss ordered him to get down and travel in another vehicle.
Himmat’s high-decibel address
It’s six months to go for Punjab assembly polls, but the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is already in election mode. Their press conferences are jampacked with supporters who are called to probably show media the party’s popularity. Hogging all the limelight is their leader Himmat Singh Shergill
who treats every press conference as a rally. He starts his statements at a “tolerable decibel” level, but within minutes he speaks as if he is giving a speech and addressing a huge gathering. By the end of it, he gets completely charged up.
Bajwa vs Bajwa
Though Charanjit Bajwa, wife of Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa, has not applied for a ticket from Qadian leaving the field open for brother-in-law Fateh Jang Bajwa, many in Congress believe the last on this seat is yet to be heard. A pocketborough of the Bajwas, it is a safe family seat and there is enough trust deficit between the two brothers to keep the suspense on. As for wives club, Preneet Kaur too has not staked a claim to a ticket letting husband Capt Amarinder Singh walk the talk on “one family, one ticket rule”. The dynasties are now trying for “one member in Parliament and one in state assembly” to keep the lineage.
Vij’s Rio junket woes
Haryana health and sports minister Anil Vij has had journalists eating out of his hand for a long time. But he faced criticism in the media last week for leading a state delegation of MLAs and bureaucrats to Rio for Olypmics 2016 on taxpayers’ money. The minister was not only at pains to justify his trip, but also blamed “defective thinking” for criticism. In a long Facebook post on Wednesday, Vij tried to explain how he had helped a boxer whose family was facing problems back home, his Rio visit was not a junket and his business class travel was as per official entitlement. “Junket toh khane peene vaalon ke liye hota hai. Hum to daal roti khane vale hain aur yahan to vo bhi sounds se bhi nhi mil rhi (sic),” he wrote. The sports minister then also posted a series of photographs and video clips of his interaction with the players.
Cell phone-phobic Haryana House
A piece of half-baked information received from the Haryana government left newspersons agape last week. It was about not allowing journalists to carry their mobile phones inside the Vidhan Sabha during the monsoon session scheduled to start on August 26. While several scribes did not believe it, others made frantic calls to officials, questioning the move. Their argument: mobile phones are a “rudimentary” professional requirement these days. Also, many felt the order was unnecessary when several MLAs, bureaucrats and assembly secretariat are allowed to carry their phones. The assembly then issued a clarification: “as per the past practice, use of mobile phone would not be allowed in the House or Press Gallery….if anyone requires to use mobile phone they can use the same in Press Room or premises of Haryana Vidhan Sabha Secretariat’’.
AAP’s ‘selfies with cows’ plan
It may not have much presence in Haryana, but the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is trying to make it presence felt by launching a ‘selfie with lawaris (abandoned) cows’’ campaign in the state. AAP leader Navin Jaihind made the announcement in a press statement on Saturday. “AAP workers have undertaken selfies with abandoned cows. They also took photos of cows eating plastic bags. All these photos would be posted on social media,” he said. The idea, according to him, is expose the state government’s false propaganda of welfare of cows. But what he didn’t explain is whether the party workers just took selfies or also stopped cows from eating plastic bags.
‘Badle (revenge) aur badliyon (transfers) ki sarkar’
The Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government is facing criticism for ‘badla’ (revenge) and ‘badliyan’ (transfers). While the government employees seem unhappy over frequent transfers, the opposition Congress is not happy about the probes ordered by the state government to look into the wrongdoings of the previous regimes. At a meeting with a deputy commissioner, a former Congress MLA, who is facing a CBI probe for allotment of an industrial plot by the previous Hooda government along with some others, remarked: “Yeh to badle aurbadliyon ki sarkar hai, aur iksa sara dhyan badle or badliyon par hi kendrit hai” (this is the government of revenge and transfers and their focus is only on these two things).
Virbhadra, Bali on sop spree
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and transport minister GS Bali seem to be competing with each other to gain popularity by announcing sops. While the chief minister announced 6% dearness allowance for government employees, Bali was not far behind. He declared 15% concession for government employees in buses of state-run Himachal Road Transport Corporation. The sop was given even though the corporation is heavily in the red.
In poll season, loyalties shift too
Kullu MLA Maheshwar Singh, who had quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the 2012 assembly elections to form his own political outfit, recently returned to the BJP. He merged his Himachal Lokhit Party with the BJP. When Singh went to HP Vidhan Sabha speaker Brij Behari Lal Butail to formally inform him about the merger, the latter welcome him by reciting a song from an old Hindi film, Chaudhvin Ka Chand. “Badle badle mere sarkar nazar aate hain” is how it went. The state assembly polls are due next year.
I-Day event: Bali dons Kashmiri attire
Transport minister GS Bali knows the art of drawing attention. After the Independence Day function at Dharamshala, Bali hogged the limelight on social media – nor for his speech or political manoeuvring, but his dress. Bali presided over the function in Kashmiri attire, a round neck coat and Karakul hat. Coincidentally, the open jeep atop which he stood and inspected the parade also had Jammu and Kashmir registration number. Soon, Bali, his Kashmiri dress and the J&K jeep started trending on social media.
Brother lends a helping hand
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Anurag Thakur, who also heads Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, has extended the term of his brother Arun Dhumal as director, HPCA. A clear indication that there is successor from the family in case Anurag has to leave the HPCA top post in the wake of recommendations of the Lodha Committee. A BJP MP, Anurag, who is former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son, got elected to the Lok Sabha in 2007 from a seat vacated by his father.
(Contributed by Chitleen K Sethi, Pawan Sharma, Sukhdeep Kaur, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Neeraj Mohan, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)