Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir:
Meet the snoozing chief minister
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh often falls asleep during official meetings and public functions. He was snoozing at the inaugural function of a daylong workshop on “Promoting Use of Space Technology in Governance” held at state secretariat. Though his ministers and aides have got used to it, an official from Bihar, who was there to speak on the subject, could not hold himself back. “It’s strange that your CM heard everything while he was napping. I am amazed he remembered what the other speakers said,” he said.
Sampla’s balancing act
Vijay Sampla is doing a “balancing act” between his duty as a minister at the Centre and state president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Punjab like a “married man”. Sampla, who is MP from Hoshiarpur, told journalists the other day that he cannot falter because he knows how to keep balance between mother and wife. “Who is the mother and who is wife?” asked a curious journalist. Sampla, who is fast learning tricks of the trade, replied: “You judge that”. Though he ducked the query, it is common knowledge that the minister has been asked by the party high command to stay focused on the party affairs in view of the state elections due early next year.
Spirited Bedi puts Sukhbir in a fix
Puducherry lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi, a retired IPS officer, put Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in a tight spot at a seminar held on Dr BR Ambedkar at Amritsar. Bedi, while delivering a lecture, appealed to the state government to make examination in patriotism and cultural education compulsory in the state and asked the SAD leader to give a commitment on the same in front of the media there and then. Though Sukhbir nodded his head in the affirmative, Bedi was not satisfied, repeatedly urging him to make the announcement. As students and others started to applaud the former cop, the deputy CM raised his hand to indicate that he will do it. As all this happened in a packed auditorium, the Bedi-Sukhbir dialogue got a loud cheer.
Proud to be a Badal kin
At a time when kinship paves the way for people in politics in Punjab, a relative of a leading state politician has shown there is no point hiding his powerful connection. Rather, he is flaunting it. Chandigarh resident Inderjeet Singh Sidhu, who belongs to village Chak Fateh Singhwala, has no qualms in writing on his letterhead that he is real brother-in-law of (chief minister) Parkash Singh Badal. The letterhead has gone viral on social media.
IPS officer becoming UHBVN MD irks babus
The appointment of Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Shatrujeet Singh Kapoor as chairman and managing director, Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN), and chairman, Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN), has caused heartburn among the mandarins in the state, exposing the IAS-IPS fault lines. This is not the first time an IPS officer has been given a post traditionally held by IAS officers. The previous Congress government had also made one as director, sports, which is an IAS cadre post. But the IAS officers, who were caught unawares, seem to have been particularly irked by the latest posting order. They are taking digs at or rubbishing the “warped reasons” being given for the posting order. But the ire has been vented only in chat groups on WhatsApp or in private conversations, and not to the political brass. Ask them about the Haryana IAS Officers’ Association and the response is a dismissive grunt. “Unlike other associations, ours is about chai-samosa parties,” rued a serving bureaucrat, referring to get-togethers held to give farewell to retiring officers and on festivals. The association is headed by the chief secretary.
Rookie party’s ‘topi’ games
A Faridabad-based businessman and some small-time traders and retired state government officials associated with ‘Voters Party’ were in Chandigarh last week to spell out their political plans. All senior party leaders came to the press conference wearing identical hats. When asked by a curious scribe about the hats, party’ state convener Sahi Ram Rawat and Pinjore convener Rajendra Dhiman said the hat symbolised the zeal, dedication and devotion of martyr Bhagat Singh. Hope it is not the topi game that the politicians are notorious for.
BJP minister’s advice: Torch toll plazas
A BJP minister, who has been targeting ex-CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda for his alleged role in the Jat quota stir violence, got carried away at a press conference he held in Rohtak recently. After the press conference got over, there was informal chitchat and some reporters complained to the minister about “hefty” amount of money they have to pay at toll plazas. He responded by advising the scribes to torch the toll plazas. His exact words were: “Foonk do toll ko”. Noticing that the laughter had stopped after his comment, the BJP leader told them that he was just joking, as the press conference had ended.
Posters target Ambala MP Kataria
Posters were pasted at a few places in Ambala and Panchkula by Aam Aadmi Brigade last week, declaring BJP MP from Ambala Ratan Lal Kataria as “missing’’. Kataria was accused of not being there for the people of his constituency who were suffering due to various problems. But he scoffed at the posters, terming one of the brigade members as “mental case”. The MP read out a long list of functions held by him in his area after the monsoon session of parliament. “They had done this earlier also and need to be ignored,” he said.
Twin attack on HP Cong chief Sukhu
Himachal Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu shares a good rapport with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. But it doesn’t seem to helping him as CM Virbhadra Singh is repeatedly targeting him over appointment of secretaries in the state unit. During his recent visit to Sirmaur, Virbhadra publicly vented his anger against Sukhu. Not just the CM, his son, Himachal Youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh is also hitting out at the state unit chief. The young leader has put Sukhu into an awkward position by demanding assembly tickets for youths. “The defeated candidates should be replaced with young leaders,” he said.
Sulking IAS couple goes on leave
HP IAS couple, additional chief secretaries Vineet Chawdhary and Upma Chawdhary went on “protest” leave when 1983 batch officer VC Pharkha superseded them in June this year. While Vineet is a 1982, Upma belongs to 1983 batch. The two officers first went on medical leave and have now applied for three months’ study leave for completing a course through distant learning mode.
(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Aseem Bassi, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Hardik Anand, Gaurav Bisht)