‘Testing’ times for Channi
Good news or bad, they come at the wrong time for Congress legislature party leader Charanjit Singh Channi. The news of his appointment came when Channi was due to take his MA semester exams in December last year. Channi prepared for the exams again in May when the controversy over his arranging a meeting of expelled leaders Jagmeet Brar and Bir Devinder Singh with poll strategist Prashant Kishor erupted and Channi found himself explaining to Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh if it was his doing. Hope Channi, who did not pass his exam as leader of opposition during budget session with flying colours, is able to pass his exams in political science.
Once bitten, but not twice shy
Punjab agriculture and revenue minister Tota Singh has not forgotten the treatment he got during his visit to New York in July last year when some publicity hungry protesters had hurled a shoe and bottles at him. However, he is willing to accept the challenge again. “I will go again. I am sure it will be a fruitful visit,” said the minister. He said that he has many relatives and friends, besides a large number of people from his constituency, in Canada and America. “I know how to manage things there,” he said.
RS ‘reward’ for Soni
The buzz in the Congress circles in Punjab is Ambika Soni has been rewarded a fifth term at Rajya Sabha despite not being on party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s list of favourites. Also, the Punjab campaign committee chairperson, party leaders complain she has not held a single meeting on campaign strategy. “Ambika was keen to keep the bungalow at New Delhi and that required being a MP. She has been rewarded for loyalty to party chief Sonia Gandhi, never mind her ability to win elections, including her own,” a senior leader said. But loyalty does not always pay. Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh seems to have forsaken some of his loyalists who wanted him to oppose the fifth term for Soni. Amarinder descended from his summer retreat at Chail in Himachal after Soni’s name was announced and the duo even hugged for a picture-perfect nomination. Now his slighted loyalists are heard saying, “Don’t be more loyal than the king.”
Singing babu regales all
Bureaucrats never cease to amaze. When a 1984-batch IAS officer of Haryana retired from service last week, his department staff hosted a farewell party in Panchkula on Wednesday. Besides the minister in-charge and some other bureaucrats, excise and taxation officers, who had been called to the state headquarters from across the state for a “review meeting”, were present at the soiree. A big orchestra had been arranged for the outgoing babu, who is a Mohammad Rafi fan, to croon some of his favourite songs at the gettogether. The IAS officer, who has been singing at farewell parties of his bureaucratic colleagues, happily grabbed the mike, humming half-adozen Hindi songs. There was a special song dedicated to the minister as well. The party carried on till midnight and the field officers, who had come all the way, could leave for their respective stations only after it got over. A day earlier, the officer had sung ‘Yeh Jeevan hai is jeevan ka yahi hai rangroop’ – a popular Kishore Kumar number – at the farewell party held by the Haryana IAS Officers’ Association in Chandigarh on the occasion of his superannuation from service. For those who missed them, videos are available on YouTube, a global video-sharing website.
Farmers’ long wait for achhe din
Union chemical and fertilisers Ananth Kumar was in Karnal recently as part of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s publicity campaign on completion of two years in power. He tried to persuade the party supporters by making a PowerPoint presentation in NDRI on the government’s initiatives and then hosted a lavish lunch at a reputed hotel, but failed to give any assurance about ‘achhe din’ (good days) of farmers. The minister chose to skip questions from the media regarding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report. “We cannot implement any report in toto, but efforts are being made to increase the farmers’ income by 2022,” he said. The response failed to convince the supporters. “We do not have anything to tell to farmers except crop insurance which only helps when bad weather ruins crops. The farmers think season to season and are not interested in what is going to happen in 2022,” one of them griped.
Prakash panel silent on role of Centre’s officials
Retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, who probed the quota stir violence, gave a blistering report on acts of commission and omission of civil and police officials. But his silence on some top officers of the central government, including the cabinet secretary, who were in touch with the state officials, in his report has been a subject of discussion in bureaucratic circles in the state. The central team had held video conferences with the chief secretary and other state officials, and given instructions to them when the situation went out of control. “Barring one or two vague references, there is nothing on effectiveness of the intervention of bureaucrats at the highest level. This, along with the addendum on the chief minister’s office, has raised a few eyebrows,” said an officer who was privy to the developments at that time. The ex-UP DGP does not think much of this, though. He calls these misgivings a result of “idle talk”.
Stinging report puts govt on backfoot
When Jats took to the streets in Haryana, the Khattar government was hamhanded in its handling of the situation. After retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, who probed the quota stir violence, submitted his report to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, the government has been lumbering in its response with senior ministers even speaking in many different voices. But that’s just one aspect. Administratively, too, the right hand does not seem to know what the left hand is doing. The chief minister’s office last month transferred an RTI application to the home department, asking it to provide information on the probe report directly to the applicant. But the home department, which had drawn flak in the report, wrote to the applicant, saying that it had not received the report of Prakash Singh committee as it was a “top secret” matter. Curiously, the RTI reply was sent by the department after the inquiry report had been made public by the state government.
HP guv impresses Prez
Himachal Pradesh governor Acharya Dev Vrat is known for his simplicity and inculcating good values among the youngsters. He impressed President Pranab Mukherjee with his speech at the golden jubilee convocation of Indira Gandhi Medical College the other day. A known Sanskrit scholar, he reminded students of ancient education system and importance of convocation in the Upanishads where teachers gave tips to students to serve society. Mukherjee complimented Acharya, making special mention of him in his speech. On the other hand, chief minister Virbhadra Singh, in his speech, dwelt upon his government’s focus on health services. The President, however, expressed his concern regarding healthcare in rural areas.
Vikramaditya’s short-lived joy
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son and Himachal Youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh recently held a public meeting in Mandi to felicitate Congress-backed representatives of panchayati raj institutions. The event was attended by most ministers, but transport minister GS Bali and Himachal Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu were conspicuous by their absence. Elated over the turnout, Vikramaditya appointed four youth activists – Vinod Jhinta, Yadopati Thakur, Vivek Kumar and Vikas Kalta – as general secretaries. While the event was attended by Indian Youth Congress chief Raja Amrinder Singh ‘Warring’, Afzal Ahmad, secretary incharge of HP, put the brakes on the appointments, saying that Vikramaditya had not taken approval.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Neeraj Mohan and Gaurav Bisht)