AAP press meet ends with ‘sense of rumour’
The youth wing of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) held a press conference in the lawns of the Chandigarh Press Club the other day. Minutes after the conference ended and journalists and AAP leaders moved towards another corner of the lawn to have tea, honeybees struck the unsuspecting gathering. Several stings later, however, someone got his “sense of rumour” back. And, he suggested that the honeybees could have been sent by the Akalis to disrupt the AAP press conference and scare them off.
Warring’s sorry video
He thundered and roared in the Punjab assembly till he cut a “sorry” figure. Speaking on the “supreme” sacrifice of former MLA Ramanjit Sikki, who resigned in protest against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring’s statement that “just a long beard didn’t make one a Sikh” saw many Akalis getting up and seeking an apology, forcing the House to be adjourned. During that time Warring was seen yelling that he won’t say sorry. But when the House resumed, Warring went on a sorry-spree, apologising to anyone and everyone who got up in the ruling benches. Though no TV channels are allowed to cover the proceedings, a video of Akali MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha asking him to say sorry and Warring parroting—mein maafi mangda han—has been making rounds on WhatsApp. But nobody is asking whodunnit.
Sanawar link brings former J&K chief minister to Doraha
Childhood friendship brought former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah to Doraha, a small town near Ludhiana, last week where he presided over the convocation ceremony at Guru Nanak National College. Putting to rest all speculations, Omar, who held a media briefing, began by stating that it was his loyalty and love for his childhood friend that brought him there. Omar was pointing to the person sitting on his right, Harpartap Brar, general secretary of the college management. “We are friends since the age of 11 and our friendship dates back to Sanawar days where we both studied together. Brar has always been inviting me to come for the convocation but I was busy as I was then the CM. I am glad I made it to the convocation this year,” he said.
Haryana CM’s oops moment
To err, they say, is human. But some errors can cause huge embarrassment at times. When Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar wrote a demi-official letter to governor Kaptan Singh Solanki at the peak of row over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal land, there was a faux pas. The letter signed by the CM addressed Solanki as governor of Haryana, urging him to withhold assent to the bill passed by the Punjab assembly. The letter to Solanki, who holds dual charge of Haryana and Punjab, was released to media to show prompt response. A few of them put it on the social media within minutes. There were several red faces when someone pointed out the mistake. Another letter addressed to Solanki, the governor of Punjab, was got signed and dispatched. And, a press note was issued, stating that Khattar made the request to Punjab governor. Timely detection saved the government from huge embarrassment.
Shorter SYL resolution brings relief to dy speaker
When a resolution condemning the Punjab assembly’s move to pass a Bill for returning the land acquired for the construction of contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal back to the original owners’ heirs was put to Haryana assembly on Monday, deputy speaker Santosh Yadav had to read out the entire two-and-half page resolution even as the irrigation minister OP Dhankar had done the honours earlier. As Yadav started the repeat act of reading it all over again when the resolution was being put to vote in the House, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar asked an official of the assembly secretariat to communicate to the deputy speaker to cut it short and read only the operative part. The message got conveyed soon to Yadav, who heaved a sigh of relief.
Reading the budget through same lens, literally
BJP legislator from Dehra Ravinder Singh Ravi’s reading glasses have gained prominence in the Himachal assembly. A four-time MLA, Ravi wears small reading glasses. His glasses are also used by his party colleague, Seraj MLA Jai Ram Thakur sometimes. When another party MLA, Mahender Singh Thakur, borrowed the glasses to read out his speech during the budget discussion, they caught the attention of members of the ruling Congress. Like Ravi, Mahender slammed the budgetary proposals of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who is also the state finance minister. Congress MLA Asha Kumari, while participating in the debate, hit out at Ravi and Thakur, saying that both tried to see the budget from the “same lens”.
BJP’s toon campaign against minister in Dharamshala
With the newly-formed Dharamshala municipal corporation going to polls on March 27, the election campaign in the otherwise sleepy hill town has touched a new height of vehemence. Amid allegations and counter-allegations, the opposition BJP has found a new tool, cartoon strips, to hit out at the ruling Congress on the social media. Their target is local MLA and urban development minister Sudhir Sharma. The cartoon strips being circulated by BJP workers online question the minister about promises he had made during the assembly elections. In one of them, a character has been shown as asking the minister: When will Dharamshala get monorail? Another one shows the minister as flying a paraglider with the tagline, “Confusion: MLA of Dharamshala or Baijnath? The cartoon campaign has left the Congress jittery. But the party is still to find an effective way of countering it.
MLA gets ‘help yourself’ advice from minister
Irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes may not be one of the vocal members of the state cabinet, but she can surely surprise sometimes. The other day, independent MLA from Chopal Balbir Verma spoke about the poor condition of water storage tanks in his assembly segment during the Question Hour. Verma informed the minister that 198 of the 200 water storage tanks constructed in various villages were damaged. Stokes responded by expressing concern, but, at the same time, she asked the MLA, who is a big real estate developer, to spend some money from his own pocket. “The departments is taking measures to improve water supply, but being a moneyed man, you can spend some from your own pocket,” she said.
Suspension for opposing T20 match against Pak?
Rakesh Pathania had once earned the sobriquet ‘Hanuman’ for his loyalty to former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, but their relations strained during the previous assembly elections. When Pathania, who misses no opportunity to hit out at Dhumal and his family, vehemently opposed the India-Pakistan T20 match at Dharamshala that was later shifted to Kolkata, the Nurpur block unit of the BJP, which is dominated by Dhumal supporters, wasted no time in issuing his suspension order. Though the party unit cited anti-party activities during the panchayat elections as the reason, it was clear from the timing of the order that it also had something to do with his opposition to the match and criticism of Dhumal family. The suspension has become a talking point in the party circles.
BJP’s dig at appointment of Himachal CM’s son
The appointment of chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son, Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress chief Vikramaditya Singh, as member director of the newly-constituted Skill Development Corporation came handy for some opposition members, especially Shimla legislator Suresh Bhardwaj, to hit out at the government. “There are already three ministers in the corporation and the government has now inducted another expert, Vikramaditya Singh,” Bhardwaj said. His remarks did not only cheer up his party colleagues, but also brought smiles to the faces of Congress MLAs, especially those hostile to the chief minister.
PDP ‘conditions’ stall govt formation in J&K
At the centre of the two-month-long political logjam in Jammu and Kashmir are “conditions” being talked about by the two alliance partners who have kept them moving back and forth. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called for implementing the confidence building measures (CBMs) for government formation, but the BJP said it would stick to only the agenda of alliance (AoA). The PDP responded by saying that CBMs are there in the AoA. The BJP said they will not accept any new condition. The PDP, feeling a tad jittery, said they haven’t put any new condition. And, it is still not clear which conditions of the PDP were rejected by the BJP. The prevailing confusion has helped the Congress and the National Conference, warm up, though.
(Contributed by Chitleen K Sethi, Aneesha Sareen, Navneet Sharma, Hitender Rao, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh K Thakur and Tarun Upadhyay)