Channi’s astro connect
How do you explain the mercurial rise of Congress Legislature Party leader Charanjit Singh Channi? One of course is his diligence in adding more educational qualifications to his political profile. After he completes his MA in political science, he will be MA-MBA-LLB Channi. But few know the leader also heeds astrological advice and one of his soothsayers has predicted his further rise in the Congress as stars of some senior leaders are not shining bright. But that was before removal of All India Congress Commitee (AICC) general secretary Shakeel Ahmad as Punjab in-charge who was seen as Channi’s mentor. Now both would need a fresh set of astrologers to tide over bad tidings.
How they hate to love the media
Political parties love to hate the media or hate to love it. Both are equally true. No wonder Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal, who infamously accused the media of doing the bidding of the Narendra Modi government, now has many former journalists in his team. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal, too, often takes a dig at the media and believes allotting houses before elections could do the trick. The Congress, which at least avoids open barbs at the fraternity, was unnerved by Sukhbir’s largesse. So the ‘Punjab Da Captain’ team, comprising young enthusiasts from Prashant Kishor’s IPAC, circulated a “creative” showing Sukhbir trying to lure the media “hounds” with money. Only, it rubbed the bruised egos of many scribes and the team had to withdraw it with an apology. Though many in Congress are themselves critical of media, they were the first ones to point out the faux pas of Kishor’s team!
Keeping all at bay
Wielding bamboo sticks, self-styled patriots from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had assembled at Gurdaspur for their annual ‘shivir’ recently. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat spent three days with his swayamsevaks inside the sprawling campus of a private engineering institute, away from public gaze. A three-tier security cover was thrown around the camp venue. Inside the camp, Punjab police cops were kept at safe distance. The swayamsevaks, especially those managing programmes of Bhagwat, turned out to be self-centred. They sought every help from the district administration. When senior cops, including a DIG-rank officer, and civil officers sought appointment to call on Bhagwat, the ‘sanghis’ refused. A leading scientist and known RSS activist, who otherwise has direct access to Bhagwat, was also refused access to RSS boss. And, the media was also kept at a safe distance.
Dramatic Haryana RS polls
There cannot be a more bizarre “whodunit” story than the recent Rajya Sabha election in Haryana in which BJP candidate and Union rural development minister Birender Singh and Independent candidate, media baron Subhash Chandra, who was also backed by the ruling party, were elected on June 11. Another Independent candidate, advocate RK Anand, whose win was otherwise certain with the backing of the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), lost the race. It is not the pen or the ink or who voted whom, but who is saying what that has left almost all across the parties and observers appalled. Right from day one, all parties have been blaming each other for the “conspiracy’’, Anand, who first blamed a powerful group in the Congress for his defeat, gave a clean chit to Congress legislators. They, he said in his complaint to Chandigarh police, acted in most bona fide manner without having knowledge that the pen had been replaced. However, political circles are still buzzing with talk of a Congress MLA who left his ballot unmarked and also Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, known for his knowledge of rules and procedures, showing his ballot to an “unauthorised person”.
Royal’s b’day and a noble gesture
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh kept his wife, former MP Pratibha Singh’s birthday celebrations a simple affair. The chief minister’s supporters thronged the couple’s private residence, Holy Lodge, with cakes to wish the former MP. A small cake-cutting ceremony was also organised at the entrance of Holy Lodge where the couple offered cake to each other. In the evening, Virbhadra and his wife distributed “langar” (community food) at a canteen, run by non-government organisation Almighty Blessings, at the Indira Gandhi Medical College’s cancer hospital. An elated CM later announced that he, too, would celebrate his birthday with cancer patients.
Bali’s emotional message
Transport minister GS Bali has become very active on the social media to connect with the public. The minister regularly apprises people of steps taken by his department, but it was a different message he conveyed the other day. When the Himachal Pradesh high court asked the department to act against state transport corporation employees who went on strike despite the court’s order, Bali was quick to vent his feelings on Facebook. In an emotional post on his FB page, Bali wrote: “HRTC is like my family. I am pained to take action against my family members, but am feeling helpless.” The minister added that had some employees not resorted to blackmailing tactic, this day would never have come.
Sukhu’s meeting with Sonia
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made a three-day private trip to Shimla last week to inspect the latter’s under-construction cottage at Chharabra. While the visit was strictly under wraps owing to security reasons, Himachal Congress president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, considered close to AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, did get a chance to meet the Congress president to discuss party affairs in the state. An unscheduled meeting between Sonia Gandhi and irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes, an old loyalist of Gandhi family, was also a talking point in political circles.
Uproar over Priyanka’s cottage
BJP legislator from Shimla Suresh Bhardwaj caused ripples in the state politics when he shot off a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, urging him that permission granted to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for construction of a house near the Presidential Retreat in Shimla should be revoked. The President’s summer retreat was a “high security zone” and the cottage should not have been allowed, according to him. The Shimla MLA’s sudden salvo against Priyanka has bewildered most politicians, including some of those in his own party, as permission for purchasing the land was granted during the BJP regime in 2007.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Pawan Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)