Poll code: Joshi’s pet project puts officials in bind
Punjab minister Anil Joshi put the officers of the Amritsar district in a bind by announcing that he will inaugurate a 360-ft-high Tricolour at Attari border on Sunday. The district officers were unaware when the minister could do the inauguration with the model code of conduct in place.
“I will have to check on this” were all they were willing to say. However, the minister got special permission from the Election Commission, but that did not help. The officials were not sure if they could attend the function or not. When the minister did the inauguration on Sunday, the district officials were not present.
Akalis on cloud nine after DSGMC polls win
Overjoyed with the party’s victory in Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections on March 1, Akali supporters, who are awaiting the poll results in Punjab, have coined a new slogan, “Ek nu Dehli, 11 nu Punjab, meaning that they have been victorious in Delhi gurdwara polls and would also win the Punjab assembly polls where the results are due on March 11. The SAD (Badal) staged an impressive victory in Delhi where Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) backed out of the contest. The AAP gave a tough fight to AAP and Congress in Punjab, though.
Retd Punjab babu on green mission
Retired IAS officer Suresh Kumar is leading another campaign post-retirement, focusing on water-energy-agriculture nexus and crop residue in Punjab. While in service, he led the agriculture department. At a discussion held last week, the thinking heads from the state departments of agriculture, environment, irrigation and power, besides experts from the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), came together to discuss these issues. Kumar managed to involve the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) and Centre for International Projects Trust (CIPT). They have divergent views on some issues, but there was consensus that solutions need to be found before it is too late.
Netas of varied hues
The proceedings in the Haryana assembly remained dreary during the first week of the budget session. There were not any great speeches. Clever wordplay was also missing, barring occasional digs by leaders of the ruling and opposition parties at each other. And the most noticeable thing in the 90-member House was the sartorial sense of the legislators – their kurta-pyjamas and sleeveless jackets in pink, purple, red, mustard, green and blue hues. Leading the pack of MLAs sporting colourful clothes was none other than chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Like his mentor Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the RSS pracharak-turned-politician has a penchant for wearing colourful jackets and kurtas with white churidaars. Their multi-coloured clothes of the MLAs have not remained unnoticed. They are a talking point among the mandarins and mediapersons.
Sulking Haryana BJP legislators
Upset over ‘neglect’, several BJP legislators in Haryana are publicly griping against the functioning of their own government. Though chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had tried to placate them on Thursday, his assurances do not seem to have worked. The 16 miffed MLAs, who have complaining against “sautela vyavahar” (step-motherly treatment), not only asked the ministers in the House on Friday about the fate of projects announced by the chief minister in their areas. They had another meeting to formulate a joint strategy. “Kuch log goad mein baitha rakhe hain. Baki vidayakon ki koi sunwayi nahin hai (Some people are sitting in the lap. Other MLAs are not lent an ear). Officers keep objecting to everything. With what face we will go to the people,” one of them grumbled after the meeting. They are now waiting to meet the central leaders after March 11, the day of the assembly results.
Envying the neighbour
The grass, they say, is always greener on the other side. Ask the MLAs in Haryana about their status. A number of them feel there is no place like neighbouring Uttar Pradesh where the assembly polls are currently underway. “Vidhayak ka bahut roab aur rutba hota hai UP mein (MLA has major influence and status in UP),” one of the miffed BJP legislator said. But it’s not the MLAs. A senior minister also feels this way. “Main jab bhi UP jaata hoon toh feel hota hai main mantri hoon (When I go to UP, I get the feeling that I am a minister),” an outspoken minister said while chatting with reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing budget session. He attributed the difference to size of the two states. “Being a small state, the officers are in direct contact with the CM or his staff, and do not pay attention to legislators,” he said.
Dhankar’s ‘killer’ dialogue
Smiles were rife at a press conference held by agriculture minister OP Dhankar the other day on the forthcoming agri-leadership summit in Surajkund. Asked about absence of adequate marketing for farm produce from the state, he amused the newspersons and officials alike by quoting a dialogue of Bollywood film Raees. “Us film mein Shah Rukh Khan kahta hai, Gujarat ki hawa mein vyapaar hai, mein chahata hoon Haryana ki hawa mein bhi vyapaar ho,” he said while exhorting the state farmers to look at market demand prior to sowing. The smiles turned into laughter when the minister was elaborating upon inviting progressive farmers and a journalist suggested that officials supposed to invite them could have easily met them together at dharna spots where the Jats are holding protests. However, the joke did not amuse the minister.
Dharamshala as 2nd HP capital: BJP takes divergent stand
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s move to give second capital status to Dharamshala has been hailed by his party colleagues from Kangra district, but the opposition has been giving confusing signals. Congress MLA from Jawalamukhi Sanjay Rattan recently not only heaped praise on the CM for the decision, but also urged Virbhadra to construct his private residence there. Before the CM even responded, Dehra legislator Ravinder Singh Ravi, who belongs to the BJP, warned urban development minister Sudhir Sharma that Rattan’s suggestion was aimed at displacing him from Dharamshala. However, Shimla MLA Suresh Bhardwaj, who is also from BJP, has openly criticised the decision. He is blaming the minister, seen as the CM’s ‘blue-eyed boy’, for the move. “It’s not Virbhadra’s decision. Sharma has mesmerised him,” Bhardwaj says.
Himachal CPS told to play it cool
Known as Congress’ loose cannon, chief parliamentary secretary Neeraj Bharti hurls accusations at not only members of the opposition BJP, but at his own party colleagues on social media. Those at the receiving end include transport minister GS Bali and his son Raghuvir Singh Bali. Raghuvir, who is secretary, Himachal Congress, had a word of advice for Bharti when the latter was abroad. “People elected by popular vote should show restraint while speaking on public platforms,” he said during a short visit to Bharti’ assembly constituency, Jawali.
(Contributed by Aseem Bassi, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh K Thakur)