‘OLX pe bech de!’
The mention of e-commerce in the Punjab assembly came as a hilarious intervention on the last day of the budget session. Congress legislator from Abohar Sunil Jakhar had a novel suggestion to make during a discussion on whether municipalities in the state should be allowed to sell their properties. “Best is to put up Punjab on OLX... bech de. Why go through such a long procedure? It is the most convenient way to sell your state,” he said.
‘Mama-bhanja’ bonhomie in assembly
Congress MLA Kaka Randeep Singh and revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia have special affection for each other. During the budget session of the Punjab assembly, Randeep and Bikram were often seen sharing pleasantries, with the former patting the other, who reciprocated by bowing in respect. “Bikram is my bhanja (nephew) and affection between us is obvious,” is how Randeep put it. The bonhomie between the two was not affected by the no-holds-barred tussle between the opposition Congress and the ruling SAD-BJP alliance.
Sukhbir’s special affection for Jakhar
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal appears to have special affection for Abohar MLA and former Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar. Sukhbir repeatedly asked Jakhar in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha session to give training to new CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi. When Jakhar demanded a separate debate on power sector, the deputy CM proposed a luncheon meeting, offering to explain everything about the sector to him.
Talking won’t take them far: Manpreet on AAP leaders
Manpreet Singh Badal, who merged his People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) with the Congress in January this year, held the fort for the party at the political conference during the Hola Mohalla celebrations last week. Referring to Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann and Gurpreet Ghuggi, the former finance minister said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has inducted people who earned livelihood by talking, but have no knowledge of politics. “In politics, too, they employ the same method of indulging people. It is not going to last long,” he said. While Manpreet, who is also known for his gift of the gab, may have his reasons for saying so, the forthcoming assembly polls would make clear whether the AAP made correct choices or not.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s aide K Allavaru was seen in the governor’s gallery on the last day of the Punjab budget session. A day before that Captain Amarinder Singh came to the Vidhan Sabha and chaired a meeting of Congress legislators. Congress leaders say it was to ensure the attendance of MLAs in the House. Allavaru was apparently also there the next day to check the attendance.
Surname: To have or not to have
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar made an appeal to MLAs not to suffix ‘Khattar’ with his name. “I don’t like when people use ‘Khattar’ with my name,” he said during a discussion in the state assembly on the recent quota stir violence. But this wasn’t the first time the CM talked about his surname. When the nameplate outside his office was changed to “Manohar Lal” more than a year ago, his aides had attributed it to him. Whether he likes others using Khattar with his name or not, the chief minister continues to retain his surname in his official twitter handle, @mlkhattar. The surname also figures prominently on his official website (www.haryanacmoffice.gov.in), and Haryana chief minister’s office (CMO) official page on Facebook.
Kamboj carries party candidates in his pocket
Haryana minister of state for food and civil supplies Karan Dev Kamboj seemed sure about the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party-supported candidate in the election for the post of chairman of the Karnal zila parishad. “Zila parishad chairman meri jeb me hai (The zila parishad chairman is in my pocket),” he told reporters when asked to name the party’s candidate for the post. But he quickly realised his mistake. Correcting himself, Kamboj, who had come to Karnal along with 19 members and local MLAs, said the name is in a sealed envelope in my pocket and would be make public very soon.
For four HP legislators, it’s faith before party
When it comes to hitting out at each other inside the Himachal Vidhan Sabha, legislators of the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leave no stone unturned. But some members, cutting across party lines, displayed rare bonhomie, recently. Four of them, Sanjay Rattan (Congress), former panchayati raj minister Jai Ram Thakur and Baldev Singh Tomar (BJP) and Manohar Dhiman (Independent) took time off to visit the famous Tirupati Balaji temple. They not only flew together to pay obeisance at the temple, but also got their head tonsured. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his family had also visited the temple last year.
BJP unit falling victim to Shanta Kumar’s silent rage
Bharatiya Janata Party state legislator from Kangra Shanta Kumar appears to be getting back at the party state leadership for ill-treatment meted out to him. The latest victim of the octogenarian leader’s silent rage is his one-time protégé Kishan Kapoor. A prominent face of the party in Dharamshala, Kapoor, who has apparently switched loyalties to former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, asked for trouble by inviting Shanta to campaign for the municipal corporation election. In the workers’ meetings he attended, Shanta not only contradicted Kapoor but also indirectly hailed Congress minister Sudhir Sharma for making the town a corporation and its inclusion in the smart city project, leaving his party colleague red-faced.
Race on for new Himachal CIC
Bureaucrats considered close to Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh are vying for the post of chief information commissioner that fell vacant when Bhim Sen completed his tenure last week. Former human resource development secretary Ashok Thakur and chief secretary P Mitra are front runners for the post. Retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Balbir Thakur is also in the race, but the state government seems unsure. The corridors of power are agog with speculations about who would make it finally.
Dhumal takes dig at Mankotia for demanding Hafiz’s head
The controversy over the India-Pakistan T20 cricket match at Dharamshala, which was later shifted to Kolkata, created buzz in political circles in the hill state for almost a month. Political parties traded charges during the municipal elections in Dharamshala. BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal, while campaigning for the party candidates, wondered about the absence of Congress leader Major Vijai Singh Mankotia (retd), who was in forefront of protests against the match, from the election campaign. He mocked at the former soldier’s statement that the match would be allowed only if the organisers bring the head of Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of Mumbai attack. “Mankotia has not been seen in the campaign. I think he has gone to get Hafiz’s head,” the former CM quipped.
It’s no pain, no gain for J&K ministers’ personal staff
The two-and-half-month deadlock on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir was a nerve-racking period for the personal staff of ministers belonging to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Although most left their jobs or business to join the staff, they were paid for two months. A few of them had even started approaching their previous employers. The pay and perks of ministerial staff are quite modest, but the influence in the corridors of the power is what counts. Usually, only those trusted by the ministers are accommodated in their personal staff. Though the government will be in place soon as the two parties have reached an understanding, they are sceptical about the alliance government lasting its full term.
(Contributed by Chitleen K Sethi, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Neeraj Mohan, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh K Thakur and Tarun Upadhyay)