ON A BREAK, CAPTAIN PLAYS COOL
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh is finally getting some rest after hectic campaigning. Hopping from one rally to another, he had bruised his ankle. Captain has been advised rest by his doctor which rules out possibility of his campaigning in UP and Uttarakhand for now. But it is spring time at his residence in Chandigarh where Amarinder is spending time among his strawberry plants, planning February 21 launch of his biography and the wedding of his grandson, Nirvan, who was by Amarinder’s side throughout the campaign and is using the break for exchanging vows in March first week. Though Amarinder’s trusted officers and wannabe mantris are meeting him, the durbar too is resting till the verdict day. By then, the spring will also be back in Amarinder’s step!
WHEN NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU WAS CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Punjab voters have made their choice. The outcome will be known next month, but the state politics resonated hundreds of kilometres away in a Mumbai studio where cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu shot for a comedy show. Sidhu, who had joined the Congress just days before the February 4 elections, was the centre of attraction – not for his raucous laughter this time, but his political prospects. “Bhaji, you are destined to sit in a bigger chair,” said a co-actor, pointing towards Sidhu’s jumbo sofa-chair on the show. Another one greeted Sidhu, who was the Congress candidate from Amritsar East assembly segment, by showing the open palm. “No folded hands from today. We will show you open palm (Congress party symbol),” he said to laughter all around. The former MP seemed dumbstruck with no sign of laughter that he is famous for. After all, politics is no laughing matter.
INLD’s SYL DIGGING PLAN A ‘GIMMICK’ FOR BJP
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are hitting out at each other like never before. While INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala said he would bring out corrupt deeds of the BJP government, the ruling party has slammed the former’s plans to start digging the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal from February 23. BJP leader Jawahar Yadav, who often speaks on behalf of the state government, released a video clip of INLD leader Rampal Majra seeking votes for Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Parminder Singh Dhindsa in Lehra assembly segment in the state polls. “The party with which Abhay Chautala had snapped politician ties over SYL......they helped it in the elections. They should not do nautanki (gimmick) on February 23,” tweeted Yadav, posting the clip. All fine, except that his party (BJP) has an alliance with the SAD in Punjab and had contested the state elections together.
T-20 TOURNEY CREATES BUZZ
The Swarna Jayanti Haryana Premier League T20 Trophy’ created a buzz in Chandigarh last week. Since chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated the championship on February 4 and the trophy and jerseys were launched by governor Prof Kaptan Singh Solanki on January 27, it was presumed to be a state government event. Sports minister Anil Vij created further confusion by saying that he had rejected a proposal sent to him regarding the tourney. However, things got clarified when a senior official of the state government, who is associated with the Golden Jubilee Celebrations Committee, said that the tournament was organised by a trust and not the state government.
BALI ‘MENDS FENCES’ WITH VIRBHADRA
The rapport between Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and transport minister GS Bali is not easy to understand. Bali had got upset with chief minister Virbhadra Singh for not being allowed to share the stage with Congress vice- president Rahul during the party’s rally in Dharamshala on December 24. And he kept away from the CM’s winter sojourn to Kangra this time. Bali, who is election observer in neighbouring Uttarakhand, quickly mend fences with Virbhadra when he later went to attend a poll meeting. The transport minister received the CM at Paonta Sahib and then drove him to Dehradun for the programme. Chief parliamentary secretary Vinay Kumar had made separate arrangements for the CM’s travel, but that did not stop Bali.
IS HIMACHAL TOP COP ON HIS WAY OUT?
The Virbhadra Singh government’s sudden move to replace director general of police (DGP) Sanjay Kumar led to hectic activity in the corridors of power last week. Owing to the CM’s order, the home department quickly moved the file to replace Kumar with DG (home guards) Sita Ram Mardi. As the news broke, Mardi’s office was flooded with his subordinates. His well wishers also reached the office to felicitate him. But his joy was short-lived, as the file on police postings was put on hold after Kumar called on the chief minister and chief secretary VC Pharkha. There are two other DG-rank police officers, Prithviraj and Somesh Goyal, in the state.
(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Sukhdeep Kaur, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil and Gaurav Bisht)