Sanjay Singh’s ‘gyan’ to EC
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh, who is in-charge of party affairs in Punjab, landed at the Election Commission (EC) office in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Saturday, complaining that the state electors were being discriminated against, as they were given one hour less for polling – 8 am to 5 pm – as compared to those in Goa where the polling was allowed from 7 am to 5 pm. The AAP leader had reached the EC office just 15 minutes before the polling was to end and accused the EC of taking away people’s rights. He then gave the usual bytes to television channels whose crews were stationed there. The poll officials did not accede to his demand, going ahead as per the original plan of allowing all the electors who were inside the polling stations by 5 pm to cast their votes. The polling carried on well beyond the
Well-armed Punjab politicos
Punjab politicians seem to have a fascination for guns. Thirty-three contestants declared 59 licensed guns, pistols, rifles etc. priced between Rs 10,000 and Rs 3.25 lakh in assets’ affidavits submitted to the Election Commission along with nomination papers. Vaninder Kaur Loomba, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate from Shutrana in Patiala, submitted details of six weapons – three guns, two pistols and one revolver. While she has a Webley revolver, two guns and a pistol are in the name of her spouse. The remaining two weapons are owned by a dependent. Others who declared multiple weapons include Vardev Singh and Mantar Singh of SAD; Aman Arora, Narinder Singh and Jasvir Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party; and Manpreet Singh Badal, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Joginder Singh and Kuldeep Singh Vaid of the Congress. Six Independent candidates also declared one or more weapons.
Poll season — when adversaries join hands
The elections saw lastminute push with adversaries coming together at some places. Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh was heard pushing the poll prospects of party colleague Jagmohan Kang party who is contesting from Kharar. In a prerecorded message sent to the people of the constituency, Amarinder projected Kang as a member of his cabinet if he (Kang) and the party win. The PPCC chief ’s one-time aide Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha was opposing Kang’s candidature and eyeing the seat, but lost out. A general secretary in the state unit, Garcha was expelled from the party for opposing Kang.
SYL: Haryana netas stay away from Punjab poll din
The divide created by the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal between leaders of the Punjab and Haryana showed during the month-long electioneering in the pollbound state. The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), both national parties, are major players in Haryana, but did not get their prominent leaders from the state for campaigning in Punjab. The Congress had several leaders from Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in the list of 40 star campaigners it submitted to the Election Commission. Similarly, the BJP list also had a few star campaigners from HP, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. But none from the neighbouring state made it to the two lists. The leaders from Haryana also did not seem keen to campaign, given the bad blood over the river waters issue.
Ministers behind rethink on retirement age
Barely two years after it rescinded the previous Congress regime’s decision and reduced the retirement age of the state employees to 58 years, the Haryana government is having a rethink. Education minister Ram Bilas Sharma and health minister Anil Vij pushed a move to increase the retirement age of the government employees to 60 in a meeting of the state cabinet. The two ministers, who are in favour of raising the retirement age, wanted the government to quickly decide the issue. However, another minister suggested that since the present government had lowered the retirement age within days of coming to power in the state, there was a need to study the pros and cons before raising it again. Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar then set up a threemember sub-committee of the cabinet, comprising finance minister Capt Abhimanyu, Vij and minister of state for social justice Krishan Kumar, to examine the matter. The chief secretary’s office has also promptly sent a letter to all offices for info on posts lying vacant and employees retiring this year.
Rocky on a song
An audio clip of a Haryanavi song, “Insaaf dila do Rocky ne, jo mita de bhrashtachaar ne’’, is doing rounds on social media these days. The song praises Jai Bhagwan Mittal alias Rocky Mittal, who was removed from the post of publicity adviser by the state government last month. Mittal’s removal followed his outburst regarding largescale corruption in organising the state’s golden jubilee year celebration function in Gurugram. He had shot to limelight for his songs in praise of Narendra Modi in the run up to the 2014 parliamentary polls.
Role for son: Virbhadra Singh has no clue
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has been giving confusing signals about his son Himachal Youth Congress chief Vikramaditya Singh’s role in the coming assembly elections in the state. The CM first offered Shimla rural seat to his son, saying that he himself wishes to contest from a seat which the Congress has never won. The next day, Vikramaditya denied reports that he would contest from Shimla rural. But what raised the hackles of everyone was that the CM also said that he had made the offer in lighter vein. “It was my wishful thinking for my son. The media took it seriously,” he said.
HP CM’s below-the-belt jibe
On his annual winter sojourn to Kangra, chief minister Virbhadra Singh has been touring various assembly segments of the district, inaugurating development projects and addressing rallies. In a public meeting in Dehra constituency, the CM dug into the past of local BJP MLA Ravinder Singh Ravi who has been critical of his government. “What can be expected from a person who sold undergarments,” he said. Before joining politics, Ravi had a small shop at Jaisinghpur. The CM’s remark did not go well with the opposition leaders who were quick to condemn him for commenting on a fellow legislator’s profession.
Vying for CM’s company
With the state elections due later this year, Congress leaders are trying to do all they can to improve their poll prospects. Two Congress MLAs from Chintpurni and Gagret, State planning commission chairman Kuldeep Kumar and Rakesh Kalia, jostled with each other to get a seat inside chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s official vehicle during his daylong visit to Chintpurni. The two MLAs – both wanting to be seen to be close to Virbhadra – had verbal spat after the CM’s security said that they had space for only one person.
Plain-speaking HP legislator
Independent MLA from Kangra and associate member of ruling Congress Pawan Kajal may not be a good orator, but he often gets appreciated for his plain-speaking. During a public meeting of chief minister Virbhadra Singh in his assembly segment, Kajal had the crowd in splits several times. He invited Virbhadra to contest the next assembly elections from his constituency. “It will be good for the people of Kangra. They have got the capital (Dharamshala) and will also get the CM. As for me, I will make it to the assembly from elsewhere,” he said to cheers from the crowd.
Another Holly Lodge in Dharamshala!
The Congress move to declare Dharamshala the second capital of the state has generated a debate in political circles in Kangra. While the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called it an attempt to mislead people in election year, Congress leaders have hit back accusing the former of being anti- Kangra. But Jawalamukhi MLA Sanjay Rattan has mooted an interesting game-plan to floor the BJP. He said Congress MLAs from Kangra have planned to build a house for the CM at Dharamshala. “It will be named “Holly Lodge” after Virbhadra’s private residence at Shimla. This will silence those who create divide on the basis of upper and lower Himachal,” he said. Dharamshala, which has an assembly building and where winter sessions are held, was declared the second capital of the state last month.
(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)