Regional buzz: Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Vaishno Devi visit, a busy JP Nadda and winds of change in Haryana Congress
Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.punjab Updated: Oct 23, 2017 12:08 IST
In poll-bound HP, Nadda is a busy man
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going all-out to return to power in Himachal Pradesh. But Union minister and general secretary in-charge Jagat Parkash Nadda has a tough job in hand. He is flying from one constituency to other to try and placate the sulking leaders who have been threatening to hit the party’s poll prospects after their ticket claims got overlooked. At the same time, Nadda is also accompanying leaders close to him when they go to file their nomination papers. The other day, he specially travelled to Jhanjiali to be present when four-time legislator Jai Ram Thakur filed his papers. Thakur is seen as Nadda’s choice for the top post.
Mata’s darshan for Sidhu on b’day
Known for his meditation and chanting, Punjab local government minister Navjot Sidhu celebrated his 54th birthday on October 20 by going to Vaishno Devi and staying quiet for two days. His wife, Navjot Kaur, however, decided to chill out at Maldives. Before taking off, the minister held back-to-back press conferences for two days to announce release of grants for local bodies. His department is the new cash cow and the minister is hoping to mop up funds from ads, internet towers, one time settlement schemes and sale of residential and commercial plots lying with improvement trusts and spend them on sprucing up cities and towns before municipal polls in December. Too less time? He will make up with words.
Sham Chaurasi MLA’s ‘high notes’ impress Manpreet
Sham Chaurasi MLA Pawan Adia got praise from finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal last week. “Ehe taan kanna dey kirrey kadd dinde ney (He removes insects from ears),” said Manpreet on Adia’s typical oratorical skills. The minister had heard his speeches during the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll. The five feet tall MLA has a shrill voice and likes to deliver high-pitched speeches. In his assembly constituency, they even talk about his resemblance to Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami.
Chandumajra finds a consolation in Salaria’s defeat
It was a humiliating defeat for the SAD-BJP combine in Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll and no one expected any alliance leader to defend the poor showing. But Akali MP Prem Singh Chandumajra seems satisfied with the vote share of alliance candidate Swaran Salaria. The SAD leader, who was in Badal village on Saturday to attend the party’s core committee meeting, told reporters that the bypoll verdict showed that only the Akali Dal can be the opposition party, as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has failed. What a consolation! The BJP combine had lost the seat to Congress by 1.93 lakh votes. One wonders what other leaders of the two parties who have been blaming each other for the debacle have to say on the statement.
Winds of change in Haryana Cong!
There seemed an air of bonhomie in the Haryana Congress otherwise a divided house between two camps headed by state chief Ashok Tanwar and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Tanwar was in the party office in Chandigarh the other day and called a leader who is a confidante of Kaithal MLA and AICC in-charge of communication Randeep Surjewala. Tanwar warmly greeted him happy birthday and offered him sweets. He then told others who were present to also offer him sweets. The gesture touched many hearts.
Hooda camp wants to go Capt way
Haryana Congress leader and ex-CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda had refused to campaign for Capt Amarinder during Punjab elections because he did not promise SYL water for Haryana. The war of words had intensified after Amarinder responded by saying that he did not even want Hooda to campaign for him. Soon after Amarinder formed the government in Punjab, Hooda supporters changed tack. They started comparing Hooda with Amarinder. With Haryana Congress set for revamp, his loyalists have asked the party high command to go Punjab-way by giving ‘free-hand to Hooda’ in Haryana for success. Hooda, who never publicly admits to internal bickering in the party, lets his loyalists do the work for him.
HP netas turn teary-eyed
Politics often makes for dramatic events, providing electors a chance to entertain themselves amid hullabaloo. As the state got into poll mode, photographs of BJP leaders crying in public set the political circles abuzz. First, it was former minister Kishan Kapoor who cried like a baby when the party initially denied him a ticket. His tears paid off as the party picked him as its nominee from Dharamshala. Another aspirant Ranvir Nikka, who was eyeing Nurpur, tried to emulate Kapoor, but his tears did not work. Then, some pictures showing veteran BJP leader and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal wiping his tears went viral on social media. Dhumal was upset over being fielded from Sujanpur assembly constituency instead of Hamirpur.
Virbhadra’s arch-rival comes out of hibernation
BJP in-charge of election campaign Khushi Ram Balnatah, who unsuccessfully contested against chief minister Virbhadra Singh four times, has ended his self-imposed exile. He had won from Rohru in the byelection in 2009 when the seat fell vacant following Virbhadra’s election to the Lok Sabha from Mandi. He was lying low since, but the leader who is credited with making inroads to Virbhadra’s stronghold is back in action. Balnatah has been able to get the party ticket for his loyalist, Shashi Bala who has made the Congress jittery.
Kajal takes a dig at BJP
Pawan Kajal, sitting Independent MLA from Kangra, was a BJP man until the 2012 election. He had successfully contested the election after being denied ticket by the party and has switched over to the Congress this time. At a public meeting the other day, Kajal vent his spleen. “You know I was in the BJP. I used to attend a lot of their camps and workshops. What the BJP teaches there is how to fool people,” he said, leaving the crowd in splits.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Sarbmeet Singh, Rajesh Moudgil, Hardik Anand, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)