Regional buzz: Vijay Sampla’s Navjot Singh Sidhu blues
Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.punjab Updated: Sep 12, 2016 11:55 IST
Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Sampla’s Sidhu blues
Former Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu appears to be haunting Punjab BJP chief Vijay Sampla. At a press conference in Jalandhar the other day, he touched his ears with his hands, pleading the journalists not to ask any question about the cricketer-turned-politician. The gesture, termed as “off the record” by Sampla, did not came as a surprise for scribes, though. He is known to resort to such tricks to duck straight and serious questions. “Rubb de vaste buss karo baba..Aah dekho main kaan phad laye…Kyun Sidhu te ghum ghum ke aayi jaane ho…..Samajah leyaa karo main kuj ni bolnaa,” he said, holdings his ears.
Punjab BJP chief fires salvo at AAP
Punjab BJP president Vijay Sampla was at his acerbic best while replying to questions about Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal’s promise to give Amritsar the status of a ‘holy city’. “How can an apavitra party claim to convert Amritsar into a pavitra (pious) city? This party is famous for converting pavitra persons into apavitra,” said Sampla, taking a dig at ‘sex CDs’ of former Delhi minister Sandeep Kumar. He then said that AAP was a “baseless, senseless, thoughtless and shameless” party. “Now they have come out to be characterless as well,” he said.
‘Chhota’ Majithia, ‘Badda’ Majithia
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) named transport minister Ajit Singh Kohar as ‘Chhota Majithia’ after a protest in his assembly constituency, Shahkot. The reason: Police lathi-charged AAP workers, who were protesting against supply of contaminated water, and booked them for attempt to murder (Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code). AAP leaders termed the use of section as the idea of a “powerful minister” who is infamous for using police for political gains in his constituency. When a journalist asked Kohar on Thursday about the “new name” given to him by AAP, he said: “I am not Chhota Majithia. I am Badda Majithia”.
If people love Badal, why is he scared, asks Dr Sidhu
After Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal wrote to the Centre to increase his security, BJP MLA from Amritsar (East) Navjot Kaur Sidhu was quick to take a dig at him. “Badal says people of Punjab love him. Why he needs more security?” she asked. She said this fear of Badals clearly shows they know where they stand. “The Union home ministry will have to create a special security category to pacify Badal who already has the highest Z-plus security cover,” she said.
Awaaz-e-Punjab: Does it ring a bell?
Besides the anti-Badal stand, the formation of Awaaz-e-Punjab has at its root a 34-year-old friendship between former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and former India hockey skipper Pargat Singh. The ‘fourth front’ formed by Sidhu, Pargat and Bains brothers seems to have been formed in haste, going by the name and slogans on the teaser poster. The name, Awaaz-e-Punjab, was already there in Punjab politics as a sobriquet given to former Congress leader Jagmeet Brar by his supporters. Also, supporters of Akali MP from Anandpur Sahib Prem Singh Chandumajra call him “Awaaz-e-Punjab”. The poem of noted writer Surjit Patar on their poster - “Je aayi patjhad taan pher ki hai, Tu agli rut te yakin rakhin...Main labh ke leyana kiton kalma, tu phulllan jogi zameen rakhin” - is often recited by Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann in his speeches.
Poll icon Bindra has vote in Punjab? EC unsure
The Punjab office of the Election Commission was quick to sign India’s lone individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra as the icon for the forthcoming assembly polls. The icon’s role is to encourage people to exercise their right to vote. But the EC is not sure whether Bindra is a voter or not. “He lives in Chandigarh and has a house in Dera Bassi. We have to check where he has his vote, Chandigarh or Punjab,” said Punjab chief electoral officer VK Singh. If his vote is not registered in Punjab, Bindra can join the list of 2 crore voters in the state, as the commission has started final updation of electoral roll.
Road project: Haryana cabinet fines Chandra’s firm
That all BJP ministers in Haryana are not on the same page on many issues is no secret. But it surely helps the state sometimes. When the state council of ministers met on Friday, on its agenda was the failure of a private firm, Essel Infraprojects Limited, which was awarded the work for 83-kilometre long Kundli-Manesar section of KMP expressway project, to achieve financial closure. Though only the chief minister and four ministers were present, they had an animated discussion on penalty to be imposed on the firm, which is a part of Essel group owned by Independent Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra. Finance minister Capt Abhimanyu and health minister Anil Vij were in no mood to show any leniency to the firm or to write off its penalty. And they stood their ground. The opinion of top officers was also divided. In the end, the state cabinet decided to extend the contract, but with a hefty penalty. All’s well that ends well!
Khattar’s banana break doesn’t cut much ice
When chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar bought Rs 1.35-crore Toyota Land Cruiser as his official vehicle, he not only faced criticism but it also dented his image of a politician with austere lifestyle. His aides and image managers appear to be now desperately trying to rebuild it. Khattar, on his way back to Chandigarh from Rohtak on Thursday, stopped his cavalcade on Rohtak-Panipat road to eat bananas from a roadside vendor. One of his aides promptly clicked his photos and sent them to journalists in no time to highlight Khattar’s ‘common man’ moments. The pictures went viral on WhatsApp and social media, drawing comments – not all of them complimentary. Not all publicity is good publicity.
Hafed’s training camp at Goa beach resort
A 32-member group of Haryana State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation (Hafed) flew to Goa, famous for its beaches and casinos, last week for a training session. The big team, including top officials of Hafed from across the state, reached Delhi on Friday and took the flight to Goa on Saturday morning. They are on a four-day trip from September 10 to 13 for a management development programme at a beach resort. While several of them are travelling alone, a few officials have taken their spouses along. The jaunt has caused heartburn among employees of government departments, boards and other organisations where such privileges are unthinkable. But for Hafed staff, it is a routine affair. “There is nothing unusual about our trip. We have had such programmes in Nainital, Dalhousie and Mussoorie in the past as well,” a Hafed official said nonchalantly. Perhaps, others could also take inspiration and plan their training trips.
Pay pangs for Haryana publicity wing staff
At least seven newly appointed information officers, photographers and employees in the news monitoring cell of the Haryana information and public relations department have not got their salaries for the past several months. While some have been without pay for the past four months, the others have been waiting for 10 months. Officials rue that all formalities have been done, but the salaries are still stuck. Already, one of them has quit. Certainly not good publicity for the state government!
Khattar’s OSD repatriated
Vijay Sharma, an Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) officer who was brought in as officer on special duty to chief minister on deputation, has been finally repatriated to his parent department. Brought to the state in June last year for a period of five years, he had sought premature repatriation. His exit from the chief minister’s office (CMO), according to the grapevine, is due to “lack of coordination” between him and others in the team. Sharma, who was given excise and taxation, was reportedly upset over lack of response to his “queries and recommendations” to officials of the department.
AAP reels under fund crunch in HP
The AAP has been struggling to find a toehold in bipolar polity of Himachal Pradesh. The party is not only facing a leadership crisis, but also financial constraints. When it decided to hold a press conference at Shimla, the initial venue was the state-run Ashiana Restaurant. But the party then changed it to Press Club and then finally settled for Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) hall where the charges are nominal.
HP’s de-facto forest mantri
Forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmauri’s fondness for HP State Forest Development Corporation vice chairman Kewal Singh Pathania has caught the attention of just about everyone in political circles. Pathania has not only accompanied the minister on official foreign jaunts, he was also a part of forest delegation that held discussions with officials of the Union environment ministry recently on wild animal-related problems. The talk is that Pathania is working as the “de-facto forest minister”.
(Contributed by Ravinder Vasudeva, Aseem Bassi, Gurpreet Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht)