Khaira is in love with himself
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira has an insatiable craving for publicity. And the efforts he makes for some space in print have no limits. Barely half an hour before the AAP was scheduled to announce its third list of candidates on Thursday, an email landed with journalists: “Dear friend, I am attaching couple of my latest photographs just in case you need them for future use.” While other hopefuls may have been jittery about whether or not they’ll be on the list, Khaira, who got the ticket from Bholath, had no doubts. His sole concern was the photos that would go with the story. Attached in the email, the sharp, high-resolution, seemingly airbrushed, studio-clicked photographs had him dressed nattily and smiling to just the right degree. Knowing how publicity-hungry Khaira is, it came as no surprise.
Jakhar’s left-handed compliment
Congress leader Sunil Jakhar, who was leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the Punjab assembly till a few months ago, misses two things in his party – journalists and nautankiwalas. Comparing the Congress with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he said: “There is no journalist in our party. And we also do not have a nautankiwala (entertainer)”. Jakhar told reporters last week that AAP has Bhagwant Mann and Gurpreet Ghuggi. “It will be good if we can have Navjot Singh Sidhu. It is not a question of what Amarinder and Bajwa say,” he said. Now that’s what we call a left-handed compliment.
‘Bootwala’ Tarlochan draws attention
Congress MLA Tarlochan Singh Soond, who hurled the shoe at treasuring benches in the Punjab assembly, is drawing attention wherever he goes. “Bootwala Tarlochan” is how a group of shoppers called out to him when they saw him in Sector 17 market of Chandigarh last week. He was soon surrounded by shoppers who started praising his act of shoe hurling. “It was a symbol of people’s anger against the corrupt dispensation and would be remembered for a long time,” an elated Soond told them. Looking at the MLA’s shoes, one of the asked: “Is this the same pair?” Soond replied that they had been seized.
Stay put, learn the ropes: Jha’s advice to BJP men
When BJP national vice-president and Punjab in-charge Prabhat Jha was addressing the state executive committee last week, he advised his party colleagues to be patient and stay in the government to learn tricks of running it. “I used to get complaints from party people that they have no say in the Akali-BJP alliance government. They wanted us to break the alliance. And I used to tell them to learn how to run the government when in absolute power,” he said.
For Badal Junior, austerity can wait
The concept of austerity seems alien to Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. He hired a chartered aircraft to attend a meeting in Jaisalmer. The plane came from Delhi to Chandigarh. Badal, his staff officer Manvesh Singh Sidhu, additional chief secretary (home) Jagpal Singh Sandhu, DGP Suresh Arora and security officers then flew in it from Chandigarh for the meeting a day in advance. The plane was stationed in Jaisalmer overnight and took deputy CM to Delhi after the meeting. That’s not all. The Rajasthan government had made the night stay arrangements in a seven-star hotel for the delegates, including Union home minister Rajnath Singh. Due to security reasons, they were moved to BSF base and bookings in the hotel were cancelled. However, Sukhbir and his team did not shift and spent the night in the hotel even though the host state declined to foot their hotel bills. There is buzz that Arora paid his and Sukhbir’s bill in cash. Other team members had to clear their bills using debit or credit cards and kept sulking at the turn of events.
After fisticuffs, come brickbats
The ugly clash between supporters of Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar and former chief minister Bhupinder Hooda in which the former was injured not only left the top leadership of the party red-faced. It also gave ammunition to its rivals – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Union steel minister Birender Singh, who had ended his four-decade long association with the Congress to join the BJP in 2014, was the first one to have a go. “From ‘bayanbazi’ to ‘lathibazi’. It is unfortunate how they are taking politics to a new low (sic),” he tweeted on Thursday evening. INLD MP Dushyant Chautala also took to Twitter, calling it a “very sad phase” of Haryana politics. “Condemn what happened today at Delhi,” he tweeted. Haryana sports minister Anil Vij, who is always eager to have a go at the Congress, was also quick to slam the Congress. “After the fight between Hooda and Tanwar, wearing of helmets instead of the Gandhi cap should be made mandatory at all Congress events,” he posted.
Check your facts, Maan
When Haryana Congress spokesman Ran Singh Maan released a long list of outsiders “appointed” in the chief minister’s office (CMO), he hoped to corner the Manohar Lal Khattar government. But the “exposé” did not get the expected splash. The reason: the list was full of errors. For instance, a personal assistant to chief minister (PA to CM) was shown as someone from Delhi, whereas he hails from Jhajjar. Another aide, it was claimed, belongs to “south” and has links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The information was not correct on both counts. “Those belonging to Chandigarh were shown as outsiders in a state that calls the city its capital,” remarked an official, taking potshots at the list. Then, the BJP also hit back by raking up Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin. The party leaders probably hadn’t anticipated that and scampered for cover. Better preparation needed next time.
DGPs’ couplet connect
At a seminar held at the Chandigarh Judicial Academy on Wednesday, the director generals of police of Haryana and Punjab had different takes on the challenges police in India face. If Haryana DGP KP Singh raised issues like rapidly changing socio, economic and political scene, and changing man-woman relationship, his Punjab counterpart Suresh Arora felt terrorism was the biggest challenge. However, both had a consensus on one thing. Singh recited this couplet at the end of his presentation: “Be-adbi khoon mein nahi thi, jaisa bana chaha waisa ban gaya tha main”. Arora, too, appeared to agree and referred to it in his presentation.
Loose cannons in Haryana PR dept
Actions of three officials of the Haryana public relations departments seem to be causing embarrassment to their seniors. One of them posted in southern Haryana neither does his work nor gives any heed to superiors and has also managed to avoid any action against himself despite recommendations. The second official was among the first to rush to meet the injured Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar at the hospital in New Delhi to inquire about his well-being. Then, there is another one who had posted his “personal views’’ on renaming of Gurgaon to Gurugram.
Sulking Shanta skips key BJP meet
He may have been sidelined, but BJP veteran leader and MP Shanta Kumar has his own way of showing resentment. He often skips important party meetings and functions. The former minister was conspicuous by his absence from the three-day meeting of the state executive committee of the party at Una that was attended by state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha national chief and MP Anurag Thakur. Union health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda was to also attend the meeting, but he cancelled his visit at the last moment. The party leaders said that Shanta Kumar did not attend the meeting because he was unwell. But there is no dearth of those discussing his absence from party events.
Shimla mayor gets lessons from Virbhadra
After paying homage to father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 on the historic Ridge, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh went to the Indian Coffee House on the Mall road. Singh, who was accompanied by his ministerial colleague Vidya Stokes, while sipping coffee gave lessons on politics to Shimla mayor Sanjay Chauhan and his deputy Tikender Panwar.
Sanjay Singh reels under rapid fire
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh found it difficult to reply to a barrage of questions fired by the reporters at his maiden press conference in Shimla the other day. When Sanjay claimed his party would be an alternative to “corrupt” Congress and BJP leaders in the state, he was asked a series of questions on why his party has not able to put up a campaign against corruption in the state. He did not have a convincing reply.
Leaders’ visits to relief camps just photo-ops
Though guns on either side of the Indo-Pak borders have largely fallen silent, BJP leaders in Jammu and Kashmir were keen on ‘photo ops’ than mitigating the sufferings of border villagers during the flare-up. Almost every such leader “alerted” their favourite photographers in the capital city before visiting the camps in motorcades. In the past few days, most state BJP leaders visited the relief camps along the border. To mention a few, state BJP chief Sat Sharma, and MPs Jugal Kishore and Shamsher Singh Manhas were among them. Without solving the sufferings of border villagers, they mouthed platitudes, promising all basic amenities at the camps. “They come, make promises and go back. Who the hell is bothered about our miseries,” said an octogenarian at a camp in Pallanwala. While the party leaders were competing with each other, BJP ministers in the ruling PDP-BJP alliance government, except deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, by and large remained “missing”.
(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Aarish Chhabra, Navneet Sharma, Arvind Chhabra, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht, Ravi Krishnan Khajuria)