MOTORMOUTH SIDHU VIRTUALLY QUIET
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu ,who joined the Congress a week ago, has probably more followers on social media than any other contestant in Punjab, but he prefers to talk directly. While most other politicians and their teams are trying to use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to build their poll campaign, the three-time former MP, a past master of spinning biting and side-splitting one-liners with equal ease, has been rather quiet in the virtual world. He is doing most of the talking in his public rallies or media interactions. The irrepressible laughter show host has posted only five tweets @sherryontopp in the past six months. He first announced his resignation from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), then launch of his outfit Awaaz-e-Punjab, responded to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s statement and finally broke the news of his entry into the Congress with a photograph with Rahul Gandhi.
SHERRY’S LAVISH LIFESTYLE
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu last week declared his annual income as Rs 20 crore, but he does not seem to be saving much. The former cricketer spends a lot on lifestyle, especially cars. In an affidavit submitted along with the nomination papers to the poll authorities, Sidhu disclosed that he owns three sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and a luxury hatchback Mini Cooper, watches worth Rs 44 lakhs and diamonds valued at Rs 36 lakh. He also owns immovable properties worth Rs 39 crore.
RAZIA’S PROMISE: DISTRICT TAG FOR MALERKOTLA
Congress candidate from Malerkotla Razia Sultana has promised to get the Muslimdominated town declared a district. If her party comes to power and she is able to fulfil her promise, Malerkotla, a subdivision at present, would be the first ‘Muslim district’ in the state. Also, it would be one more “mini district” on the lines of Fatehgarh Sahib, Mansa, Pathankot and Fazilka. Her poll slogan is: “Aao Malerkotla nu zila banaiyae... ek ek vote Razia nu payea”.
RECKLESS ROCKY GETS KNOCKED DOWN
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s publicity adviser Jai Bhagwan Mittal ,who was sacked after his latest outburst, probably took his nickname, Rocky, a tad too seriously and kept throwing punches at other during his short stint. A self-proclaimed Modi-bhakt, Rocky had got the position last year due to his eulogies to PM and CM. He started throwing his weight around from the word go and directly gave instructions to officials on publicity. Only 10 days ago, the singer, whose only claim to fame were the 40 songs Rocky sang in praise of Modi before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, set up his office in a room, originally allotted to a top official of information and public relations department. He decorated his office as per his choice, putting up photos of the chief minister. But he then got carried out and lashed out at top bureaucrats, alleging irregularities in organising golden jubilee celebrations. Before he could realise, the mandarins hit back, knocking him out of the ring.
PERFECT SECURITY RING
The paramilitary force personnel manning the Haryana civil secretariat in Chandigarh impressed all and sundry the other day. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s associate from Patanjali Trust Acharya Balkrishan had come along with some experts to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Haryana government for herbal forest in Morni hills in district Panchkula. After the event, Acharya and some others were ready to go and reached the ground floor. As chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar was about to leave at the same time, the security staff stopped everyone from going to porch as per standard drill. Though some people started to get restless, they didn’t budge.
BALI SULKING, MISSING AGAIN
Transport minister GS Bali has been raising hue and cry ever since he was not allowed on the dais during Congress vice- president Rahul Gandhi’s rally last month. Alleging conspiracy, Bali wanted chief minister Virbhadra Singh to conduct a probe to find out who omitted his name. As his demand was not fulfilled, he stayed away from the CM’s winter sojourn to Kangra. When Virbhadra declared Dharamshala the second capital of Himachal Pradesh, Bali got another shocker. His name was “missing” from the list of Kangra leaders who expressed gratitude for the announcement.
BOOSTER FOR SUDHIR SHARMA
Ahead of the state assembly elections due later this year, Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s announcement granting the ‘second capital’ status to Dharamshala has come as double bonanza for urban development minister Sudhir Sharma. While there is already talk that the government move would give a boost to his prospects in Dharamshala, Shimla mayor Sanjay Chauhan took a swipe at Sudhir for staying away from the state capital (Shimla). “With Dharamshala as the second capital, the minister will be more accessible to both officers and people. He will have no reason now to justify his inaccessibility,” he said.
VIRBHADRA’S JIBE AT BJP
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh never misses any opportunity to hit out at his opponents. During his last visit to Kangra, the opposition BJP organised a ‘Tridev Sammelan’, a campaign aimed at throwing the Congress out in the upcoming assembly polls, at Shahpur. When asked about the impact the BJP’s campaign on state politics, Virbhadra quipped: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”.
(CONTRIBUTED BY GURPREET SINGH NIBBER, NAVNEET SHARMA, RAJESH MOUDGIL, GAURAV BISHT, NARESH K THAKUR)