Broom effect: Knives out in Capt camp
The below-par show of the Congress at the Maghi Mela has set off a blame game between the factions within the camp of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh. The organisers of his ‘coronation’ rally at Bathinda – Majha MLAs such as Sukh Sarkaria, Tripat Bajwa, Sukhjinder Randhawa and leaders from Faridkot and Kapurthala – are basking in the glory of their feat to show that the other set of loyalists comprising MLAs Kewal Dhillon and Rana Gurmeet Sodhi could not put up a big show like theirs at Mukstar.
Some are also blaming Indian Youth Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring for trying to steal Captain’s thunder through his posters and fiery speech, especially since his youth brigade was seen leaving the rally after Warring’s speech. Knives are out in the party after the AAP broom swept away crowds from its rally.
Punjab babu’s guessing game
A senior IAS officer of Punjab cadre, who is on central deputation these days, appears to be having a lot on fun on social media. He posted a picture of his IRS wife (an income tax commissioner in Delhi) along with two film actresses, a socialite and the wife of an Akali politician, on a social networking site, asking his ‘friends’ to identify them and even offered “prizes”. The “guessing game” generated quite a reaction with the IAS officer announcing prizes. However, one respondent raised an objection, saying that identifying someone’s wife is not the right way. “Je service waaleyan nu hi aapan ne award dene ne, te fir koi na (if only officers are being given the award, then we don’t have any problem),” he posted. The photograph featured Poonam Sidhu, Sanjana Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Malvika Mala Singh and Anjali Gujral. No prizes for guessing who posted the photograph!
Red-faced, SAD spin docs dish out excuses
Left red-faced by an impressive turn out at the Aam Aadmi Party’s Maghi show that dwarfed the Shiromani Akali Dal’s rally, the SAD spin doctors went into an overdrive, dishing out a raft of inventive excuses to explain the dampener on the ruling Badals’ home turf. Sample these:
1: The SAD rally tent was pitched five km away from the main gurdwara. So, people couldn’t make it to the venue and rather thronged the AAP rally close by.
2: Workers from only five districts were mobilised; top Akali leadership took the Maghi conference for granted while workers were reeling under the ‘rally fatigue’ after a couple of Sukhbir-sponsored rallies last month.
3: SAD opted for a bigger rally ground while a youth Akali leader who was prime organiser failed to gather crowds at the venue.
4: Akali workers were stuck in traffic jams and couldn’t make it to the rally.
5 : SGPC failed to organize ‘ langars’ close to the venue while AAP offered lunch packets
Manpreet’s ‘true lies’
In politics, a lot can change in a day. At least that’s what People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) founder Manpreet Badal would like us to believe. The former Punjab finance minister had denied the speculations about merger with the Congress barely a day-and-half before in an interview saying why would the merger happen a day after the Maghi Mela in Muktsar. Manpreet had to eat his words a day later as he appeared in New Delhi to announce the merger after meeting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Those who have worked with Manpreet say the articulate Badal has been less than truthful with them too, which was one of the reasons why most of his confidants deserted him. Now in the Congress, Manpreet will have to leave old habits as he begins his new innings.
Haryana PT dept’s calendar blues
The publication and distribution of the official calendar of the Haryana government has been delayed by several weeks. Public relations department officials talk about the reasons behind the delay in a hush-hush manner. They say it is not the delay in publication. The distribution, according to them, has been delayed because of mistakes and colour combination that had crept in. The distribution had to be stopped after the mistakes were noticed. Subsequently, the same were rectified and fresh printing ordered. Something similar had happened in the publication of the government diaries last year too. What is unclear is whether any responsibility has been fixed for the recurring errors or not.
No photo-ops for HP village heads
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh administered the oath of office to newly-elected pradhans and up-pradhans of panchayats in Shimla, Kinnaur, Sirmour, Solan and Kaza block of Lahaul Spiti the other day. The public representatives were keen to shake hands and click pictures with the CM, but they had a tough time. The reason: the chief minister’s security personnel seemed more eager to face the camera and didn’t leave much room for them. Poor village heads, who had come all the way to Shimla, did not the chance to capture the memories of their interaction with the chief minister.
Shanta’s clever move
Like several others, BJP MP from Kangra Shanta Kumar has come out against the India-Pakistan World T20 match slated for March 19 at Dharamshala. “There should be no sports ties with Pakistan, until action is taken action against perpetrators of the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase,” the former chief minister has stated. However, the statement is being seen as a clever move by the ageing politician to get back at party colleague Prem Kumar Dhumal with whom he has not been on good terms for a long time. Dhumal’s elder son MP Anurag Thakur leads the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association which is hosting the match. The Kangra MP has demanded that the match be put off.
Himachal Pradesh transport minister GS Bali, known for his political management, is hogging the media limelight once again. He has been appointed in-charge for election to the post of chairman of block development committees and Zila Parishad. His appointment has caused anxiety in a section of the ruling Congress over the role the transport minister could play in the election to the post of chairman of Zila Parishad in Mandi where Champa Thakur, daughter of health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, is in the fray. There is no love lost between Bali and Kaul Singh. And, differences between the two leaders are well known in political circles.
Livid over LED
He is the mayor of Shimla municipal corporation, but Sanjay Chauhan boycotted a function in which the chief minister inaugurated an LED screen installed by the tourism department near Indira Gandhi Sports Complex on the busy Mall road to provide information to tourists. Chauhan not only skipped the function, but he also criticised the tourism department for not obtaining prior permission from the municipal corporation. The mayor has even threatened to take action against the department.
BJP bigwigs bite dust
The three-tier panchayat polls in Kangra have brought embarrassment to the saffron brigade with the BJP, despite its aggressive campaign, suffering a drubbing at the hands of the ruling Congress. The party bigwigs were shell-shocked at the stunning verdict. The biggest setback was in Jawalmukhi block where former ministers Ravinder Ravi and Ramesh Dhawala had buried their hatchets as latter’s son Rajneesh Dhawala was contesting for Zila Parishad. The two BJP leaders, who had crossed swords while jockeying for the party ticket during the assembly polls, could not prevent the defeat despite their joint efforts.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)