Birender’s witty side
Union rural development minister Birender Singh was at his witty best after he got elected to the Rajya Sabha from Haryana on Saturday. While interacting with reporters, Birender, who had triggered a political controversy in 2014 (he was in the Congress then) by claiming that the Rajya Sabha seat can be bought for `100 crore, was reminded of his statement and asked whether what he had claimed then was true. “Apna toh 100 rupyee mein kaam chal gaya. Auron ki unse puchoo (I just had to spend `100. If you want to know about others, ask them),” he responded with a wide smile. When the minister was asked why he was saying this was his last election, he said, “I am 76. Aur kya saari duniya ko lootna hai.” On his unfulfilled dream of becoming the chief minister, he told a scribe: “Do you ever have any other question? I’m not going to get caught in this today. You want the person who has got me votes get angry with me.” In response to another query about what happened (rejection of votes) in the Congress since he has known (former CM Bhupinder) Hooda for a long time, pat came the reply: “What Hooda did to me earlier he has done to RK Anand this time.”
In poll year, it’s advantage scribes
Social media is not all that political parties need. In poll-bound Punjab, the old guard journalists still command respect. It’s no wonder that the Akalis and the Congress are trying to woo them. The Punjab government has already announced a health insurance scheme for over 3,000 accredited and recognised journos of Punjab. A subsidised housing scheme also is in the offing where a three BHK flat would be offered for `30 lakh to journalists! Not to be left behind, Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh has come out with an offer for scribes. Amarinder has promised if he comes to power in Punjab, journalists would get pension after they turn 60 along with health insurance. Regardless of who wins, it’s advantage scribes in Punjab!!!
AAP wooing Capt Kanwaljit’s wife
Sarabjit Kaur, wife of Akali minister Capt. Kanwaljit Singh who died in a road accident in 2009, is being wooed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the Dera Bassi constituency in the upcoming assembly polls. The constituency – which was rechristened from Banur assembly segment after delimitation – was represented by the former minister for three terms. Though AAP surveys have thrown up her name as the winning candidate, the party’s efforts to persuade her to join its ranks have not been successful so far. The segment is presently represented by Akali chief parliamentary secretary NK Sharma, once a protégé of Capt. Kanwaljit Singh. He is considered very close to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Udta Punjab creates a flutter on Twitter
The ongoing controversy over the release of Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab’ kept the social media abuzz last week. On Twitter, ‘udtapunjabgirtabadal’, which seemed to be the work of trolls of a political party, was a trending hashtag. This was followed by a discussion on censorship with the hashtag ‘punjab’. Then, another hashtag ‘congakalidruggedpunjab’ trended on the social networking service. The war on social media is getting uglier by the day. No prizes for guessing who could be behind this!
Rights body’s wrong move
Khalra Mission Organisation (KMO), a human rights body with Sikh ideology, last Friday announced the name of Dr Harshinder Kaur as its “candidate” against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in the 2017 Punjab assembly polls. But the announcement was made without consulting her. When contacted, Dr Harshinder Kaur, a social activist and senior doctor at the Patiala government medical college and hospital, strongly rebutted it. “They never talked to me on this issue. How could they do this?” she said, making a request not to publish the organisation’s statement. Besides her, KMO had also named its former chief Paramjit Kaur Khalra and three others as its candidates against political bigwigs such Sukhbir singh Badal, Capt Amarinder Singh, Bikram Singh Majithia and Sucha Singh Chhotepur.
Chandra’s Haryanvi versus non-Haryanvi twist
Media baron and BJP-supported Independent Subhash Chandra, who won the Rajya Sabha poll due to rejection of votes of 14 MLAs, including those of the Congress, tried to give a Haryanvi versus non-Haryanvi twist, claiming that some INLD MLAs had also voted for him. But the other side promptly rejected his claim. INLD-backed Independent candidate RK Anand, whom the Congress had also promised its support, has a Haryana connection. Anand, who resides in Chhatarpur (Delhi), had done his graduation from SD College in Palwal. Barring one, all other legislators, according to an INLD leader, had voted for the candidate backed by the party.
BJP MLAs’ perfect meeting point
Haryana education minister Ram Bilas Sharma is known for his wordplay. When the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) convened a meeting of its MLAs to draw its strategy for election for two Rajya Sabha seats in the state, Sharma, who often interacts with reporters, was asked by one of them as to where the meeting would be held. “The MLAs will meet at the residence of the chief minister (Manohar Lal Khattar). It is chadawas (bachelor’s abode). There is no disturbance. And, there is no better place for holding the meeting,” he said, fast with his repartee, to guffaws from those present. Small wonder, BJP legislators have held a few meetings at the CM’s residence.
Post Prakash panel report, bouquets for some
Retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, who gave a blistering report on acts of omission and commission of civil and police officials during the quota stir, had appreciated the conduct and performance of several officials. A few have been issued appreciation letters on the basis of his findings. Among those given a clean chit is a state civil service officer who was placed under suspension after a video clip that had gone viral, creating an impression that the bureaucrat was sympathetic to the protesters. “There was, in all likelihood, slip of tongue on her part rather than any mala fide (sic),” reads the report. The former IPS officer went a step further, writing to the chief secretary to consider the officer’s representation sympathetically. The officer was reinstated subsequently.
Himachal MLA’s new avatar
All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary and Gagret MLA Rakesh Kalia is known for his short temper. He often tries to solve even the simplest of problems with an iron hand. Kalia was, however, was seen in a different “avatar” the other day. Concerned over violation of traffic rules, particularly by two- wheeler drivers, in his constituency, the MLA resorted to Gandhigiri to create awareness. He distributed chocolates to offenders, telling them about danger of not using helmets and triple-riding. His soft side left people amused, especially those who had seen him argue with cops fiercely when they had raided the house of one his close associates.
Nadda’s offer to Bali
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘Vikas Parv’ rally at Palampur has set political circles abuzz. It was Union health minister JP Nadda who set the rumour mill turning by making an offer to state transport minister GS Bali to join the BJP. Though the offer was made in a lighter vein, it is being interpreted in many different ways in the two parties. A few Congressmen don’t rule out the possibility as the flamboyant leader has been seen cozying up to the BJP leaders in recent months. He played the perfect host when Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari visited in the state last month. Again, he was the only Congress leader at the Palampur rally.
(Contributed by Chitleen K Sethi, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Prabhjit Singh, Navneet Sharma and Naresh K Thakur)