Khanna’s voice modulation!
BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Avinash Rai Khanna wasn’t accessible to the media after the news of his appointment as a member of National Human Rights Commission broke last week. “Khanna ji foreign gaye” was the response given to a reporter of this newspaper who tried to reach Khanna on his mobile to check about his resignation from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - a mandatory requirement for the appointment.
The ex-MP was apparently not too keen to answer the media queries. But the voice on the phone matched exactly that of Khanna’s. If that was Khanna himself, he definitely needs to take lessons in voice modulation.
Love, hate and the Cong parivar
For warring leaders of the Punjab Congress, help is closer to home. State Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh had his wife and Patiala MLA Preneet Kaur by his side when he resigned as the Amritsar MP over the SYL verdict on Thursday. The power couple was enough for the frame that day. A day before, it was his predecessor Partap Bajwa’s MLA wife Charanjit Bajwa returning fire to Amarinder loyalists after Captain and Bajwa fought a proxy war over tickets to “turncoats”. On Friday, however, Charanjit was all smiles, standing right behind Amarinder for a “photo-op”, when all 42 party MLAs handed over their resignation letters to the Punjab assembly secretary. Love, hate and reunion – it’s all in a day in the Congress ‘parivar’.
Capt pins big hopes on grandson Nirvan
Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh’s grandson Nirvan Singh (27) is being increasingly seen at his political events these days. And there is buzz in Congress circles that Nirvan, son of the former chief minister’s daughter Jai Inder Kaur, would take forward Amarinder’s legacy, as his son Raninder Singh is not taking much interest in politics. Nirvan, engaged to Mriganka, granddaughter of Karan Singh, a senior Congress leader from Jammu and Kashmir, is already looking after his grandfather’s online campaign, say party insiders.
AAP learning its lessons fast
The Aam Aadmi Party is learning its lessons. When the party released its first and second lists of candidates, its then state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur was absent from the press conference to show his protest against the chosen candidates. At the time of release of the third list, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann reached the press conference after the names had been announced. He had to then reassure everyone that he had got late and was totally in favour of the list released. In order to avoid a repeat, the party announced its fourth list of candidates by sending out a press note instead of holding a press conference.
Sukhbir’s fresh plan:Produce petrol from stubble
His plan to launch amphibious buses with an ability to run both on water and land is yet to become reality, but that did not deter Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal from making another announcement on Friday. At a function in Kairon village of Tarn Taran district, he said: “Now we will produce petrol from stubble”. As soon as he made the statement, many in the audience started talking in whispers about his earlier promise of starting dual mode buses that had drawn sarcastic remarks on social media. After his latest announcement also, a message went viral. “The Arab world is worried after Sukhbir’s statement, as they will have to bear big loss due to production of petrol in Punjab,” it read.
SYL verdict ups political temperature
After the Supreme Court gave its verdict on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar urged the opposition parties not to give it a political colour. But his appeal did not seem to have much impact, as politics over the issue began quickly. The first to talk extensively on the subject was Khattar’s finance minister Capt Abhimanyu, followed by Congress media in-charge and MLA Randeep Surjewala. Both had a different take on leaders of their respective parties in Punjab and Haryana. If that was not enough, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the principal opposition party in Haryana, announced to hold its executive committee meeting to chalk out its action plan on the canal issue. A similar meeting of Congress MLAs, MPs and other leaders has been convened by ex-CM Bhupinder Hooda. Politics, it seems, has just begun.
Smart city: Dharamshala residents may have to wait longer
The hopes of residents of Dharamshala for an early start of the ‘Smart City’ project are seemingly fading away. Urban development minister and local legislator Sudhir Sharma, who was instrumental in getting Dharamshala included in the central government’s flagship programme, also does not seem sure that the project would take off before the next assembly elections. If the project had started on time, he would have gained a lot politically. The minister is now banking on two other projects for installation of underground dustbins and concrete streets being undertaken in the town. The projects, according to him, are not a part of Smart City Mission but they are his personal initiative.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Chitleen K Sethi, Surjit Singh, Rajesh Moudgil and Naresh K Thakur)