Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir:
Captain by their side, Cong MLAs raring to go
When Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh joined his party MLAs outside chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s official residence in Chandigarh to demand action against senior police officers of Ludhiana for their high-handedness in the ‘Chitta Ravan’ row, they were thrilled. “Andar chalo Captain saab apaan hunn kabza lai laina CM di Kothi da (Captain Saab, let’s go inside and take possession of CM’s house right now),” said Tarlochan Singh Soondh. The PPCC chief, responding to the MLA’s suggestion, said the days of the SAD-BJP government are numbered. “Only a few months are left. We are going to take it over,” he said.
Bajwa’s ‘surgical strike’
What Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh did openly, his predecessor Partap Bajwa is doing through covert operations. The Rajya Sabha MP, who was lying low after Amarinder bulldozed his way to the state presidency, has been briefing the media in Delhi about getting cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu into the Congress. That Sidhu is trying to make Amarinder look as persona non grata in the negotiations shows Bajwa’s hand. As a former armyman, Amarinder knows how to fight a war, but ‘surgical strikes’ is new warfare. Both Captain and Navjot are temperamental and none is ready to blink first.
Pargat’s deft moves
Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh, who is playing a key role in talks former MP Navjot Singh Sidhu-led Aawaz-e-Punjab is having with other parties, often gets flooded with phone calls from curious journalists about their political moves. But he handles them deftly, speaking very little, and prefers to lend an ear to what the scribes have to say. When reporters try to grill the former India hockey captain, he dodges the queries. “Apan kal mil ke na gal kariye. Naale salah vi kar lange ki sanu ki karna chahida (Why don’t we sit together tomorrow and talk? We can also discuss what we should do),” he tells them.
Kolianwali & his tight security ring
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Dayal Singh Kolianwali, who was appointed chairman of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation a few months back, is a heavily guarded man. A dozen-odd policemen have been deployed with him by the Punjab government. His security guards accompany him to the PAIC office in Chandigarh, occupying all sofas in the lobby and leaving no space for visitors. A close associate of the Badals, Kolianwali has another set of cops deployed at his residence in his native village in the chief minister’s Muktsar district.
Keep me in loop, Karnal MP tells local officials
BJP MP from Karnal Ashwini Chopra, who often takes digs at chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, hit out at the state officials this time. Chopra, who was in Karnal the other day, said local officials do not inform him about the programmes of the state government. “They don’t give info on time and then call me just a few hours before the events,” he said on being asked about his absence from official programmes. The MP spared the state government though, saying it was working smoothly. On the recent transfer of HCS officers, he said the aim was to have them on a tight leash. “People used to say the chief minister cannot have a grip on the administration in 5 years. I am sure it will be done soon,” he said.
Be ‘appy’, Dushyant’s advice to partymen
Unlike most other leaders of his party, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MP from Hisar Dushyant Chautala is quite social media savvy. The 28-year-old four-generation neta not only regularly post his comments on political developments, he is also trying to popularise his party — whose core support base is in rural areas — online and percolate a social media culture. Dushyant has uploaded a video to request all his followers to download an android app of INLD. “I get several questions daily. I try and respond to each and every question. The app has info on our party, its programmes, and names and coordinates of party leaders. I will monitor it personally,” he said.
RSS’ short pants change colour, grow longer
Like previous years, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers in Himachal Pradesh held a march to mark Dussehra this time too. But there was a change. They marched wearing brown pants instead of their conventional uniform, the khaki knickers. But more elated than them were leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Party leaders, including former rural development minister Jai Ram Thakur, and MLAs Vikram Singh Jaryal and Hansraj, were quick to upload their pictures in new uniform on social media.
PM’s Mandi rally: Game of one-upmanship on
Leaders of the BJP are working overtime to try and make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Mandi successful. But there is one-upmanship at the same time. Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma and Jai Ram Thakur, close confidante of Union health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda, are both trying to steal the spotlight. Ram Swaroop was the first to tell reporters that Modi will visit Mandi, whereas BJP state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti held a press conference in Shimla. Nadda also first took stock of arrangements in Paddal ground and then held meetings in Sundernagar, Bilaspur and Kangra. Kangra MP Shanta Kumar, who skipped the party executive meeting, citing health reasons, accompanied Nadda in these meetings.
Rawat’s religious side
Like Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat is also a firm believer in deity culture. Rawat took time off to travel to the temple of Mahasu, a local deity, at Thangarh village in Shimla Chopal assembly constituency last week. The chief minister took a special helicopter flight for his short and quick trip.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Ravinder Vasudeva, Prabhjit Singh, Neeraj Mohan, Bhaskar Mukherjee, Gaurav Bisht)