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HT regional buzz: Badal puts up strange logic in Moga incident defence

Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa seems to think if one eats well, that’s half the battle won. He likes to have a sumptuous meal before confronting his political rivals.

chandigarh Updated: May 11, 2015 10:30 IST
Hindustan Times
Moga,Sukhbir Singh Badal,Bajwa

Thought of food

Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa seems to think if one eats well, that’s half the battle won. He likes to have a sumptuous meal before confronting his political rivals. During a visit to Ludhiana in the last quarter of 2014, Bajwa enjoyed a good Punjabi buffet before facing the party workers opposed to him. He also interacted with mediapersons on the breakfast table, kept on taking helpings till he answered each and every query.

After the Moga bus incident, Bajwa, before training his guns at the Badal family at a dharna, treated his crew at a restaurant on the outskirts of Moga. As he ordered “shahi paneer” for the second time, a party worker chuckled, “Chalo koi ta hei joh butter chicken chhadd ke paneer kha ke ladai karda hei (We have someone who prefers paneer over butter chicken before taking up the battle).”

Strange logic

Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal seems to be very touchy about the Moga incident in which his company’s bus and staff were involved. To defend himself, Sukhbir put forth a strange logic before the media at Mukerian. “If the reporter of a newspaper is involved in an accident, should the editor of the newspaper be booked?” he asked.

The media bashed him for his response too. Lessons learnt, he just kept quiet when he was asked similar questions during a media interaction in Chandigarh a few days later. He simply moved away from the journalists questioning him on Moga. He agreed to talk only when he was assured that no questions on Moga would be asked.

Colour-coded signal

Two Independent MLAs, popularly known as “Bains brothers”, are on Punjab darshan these days. Interesting, however, are the catchy yellow bands they wear across their pagris. The idea of having a band around the pagri is, of course, from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the colour from the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP). Is it a colour-coded signal to the two parties?

Simian disturbance

The monkey population around the Punjab civil secretariat in Sector 9, Chandigarh, is increasing at a fast pace. The sight of monkeys whooping and screeching is common.

“Our subordinates and other staff members may be courteous with us, but these simians jibe at us, knock at the office windows from outside when important meetings are going on. They make loud sounds to interrupt our work,” said a principal secretary-rank officer.

Being tutored

Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) chairperson Romila Dubey, while announcing the power tariff for the financial year 2015-16, repeatedly asked mediapersons to maintain silence so that she was audible to everyone.

The retired IAS officer also tried to explain the complexities of the power sector, but knowledge about the subject on both sides appeared to be limited.

“I got a feeling that we were being tutored,” remarked a senior journalist who has seen Dubey from her days as a young officer.

New thinking

The newly-designed Facebook page of former Punjab chief minister and Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh appears to project him as the only leader capable of leading Punjab to a new era.

“Navee Soch, Nava Punjab” (New thinking, new Punjab) is the buzzword. Strangely, there is no mention of his party, the Congress.

Diminishing clout

Barely a month after chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar replaced one of his additional principal secretaries, political circles are again buzzing with the talk of diminishing clout of his officer on special duty (OSD) Jawahar Yadav.

A former state president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Yadav, a close confidante of Khattar, was always seen by the CM’s side, accompanying him to meetings with the central ministers, holding talks with disgruntled groups or even distributing things such as quilts to needy people on his behalf.

But the political appointee is not being seen much these days. His say has diminished. The bureaucrats are calling the shots. Though his detractors say he is on his way out, there is no confirmation so far.

Culture shock

Party hopping before the elections is nothing unusual in Haryana, the land of ‘Aya Ram Gaya Ram’. This time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) benefited from the influx before the Lok Sabha and the state assembly elections.

But some new “converts”, especially two bigwigs who crossed over to the saffron party from the Congress, are still to get accustomed to “culture” of their new party. The duo regularly visits the headquarters of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in New Delhi for chintan meetings.

They have to take off their shoes and slippers, walk barefoot to the meeting hall and have to the sit cross-legged on durries on the floor, quite unlike the Congress where they had comfy sofas. “They said it is all so different. But there is nothing they can do about it now,” said a leader in whom the duo confided. The two leaders crossed over by choice and have done well in the saffron party.

Unsuccessful moderator

Education minister Ram Bilas Sharma played the “moderator” at the press conference of yoga guru Ramdev the other day, but was not a very successful one. Ramdev was in Chandigarh to extend “free expertise and manpower” of his Patanjali Yogpeeth to help Haryana set up the “biggest” herbal forest in Morni hills in Panchkula district and an Ayush university in the state.

Accompanied by Sharma, chief minister ML Khattar and health minister Anil Vij, the yoga guru was late for the press conference by about two hours and newspersons welcomed them with a barrage of questions. Ramdev had answered only a few queries and Sharma took the mike, announcing that the press meet was over.

When no one paid any attention, he kept repeating it. The scribes then literally silenced him with another volley of questions for the state’s brand ambassador (Ramdev) who, unlike his hosts, did not seem to be in a great hurry.

Rural humour

Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker Kanwar Pal Gujjar is unable to hide his rural humour. At a meet-the-press event in Chandigarh recently, he, on being asked about the seven months of the BJP rule in the state, said it was good and the government faced no allegations of any type.

“Pichhli sarkar mein to CLU ka mamla chalta tha, aur is sarkar mein to aisa kuchh nahin hai…..arr, kehna Kataria (Ambala BJP MP Rattan Lal Kataria) ka ke pichhli sarkar mein to log ILU, ILU (I love you, I love you) ki bajaye, CLU, CLU (change of land use) karate the, aur ab to koi aisa nahi kehta,” Gujjar said, quoting Kataria that how in the previous Congress rule people spoke only of CLUs and never said ILU.

The scribes were in splits hearing him sum up his government’s showing in perspective.

Attendance system

The Haryana top brass seems pleased with the new Aadhaar-based biometric attendance system (BAS) introduced in select offices a week ago. The use of BAS, in-time and out-time has improved.

But there is a glitch that has left the technical team members scratching their heads. The BAS dashboard shows presence of hundreds of employees in their offices till late in the night. “These employees punched in their in-time, but didn’t record out-time while leaving office.

The chief secretary’s office and the heads of departments have informed the staff. Things would improve,” said an officer. A top bureaucrat left his office on 4th floor of the state civil secretariat the other day without recording his out-time and remembered it on reaching the ground floor. The IAS officer returned to his room to register his exit time on the device. However, some middle and lower-rung employees have still not got the message.

Emotional Bali

Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his flamboyant cabinet colleague GS Bali share a love-hate relationship. When Bali recently opened a front against his government over rising unemployment in the state, Virbhadra underplayed his outburst. “I am used to Bali. He is a very emotional man. Whenever he is hurt, he tries to hurt others,” said the chief minister. After the CM’s remark, Bali made a dash to Holly Lodge in Shimla to pay him a visit. Two years ago also, an angry Bali had offered to quit his ministerial berth and then he surrendered his official vehicle last year.

New-look chief secy

Himachal chief secretary P Mitra, who was on medical leave for three weeks after suffering a brain haemorrhage, is back in office with a new look, He has started sporting a green-band Himachali cap which has been in vogue since Congress leader Virbhadra Singh’s return to power in the state.

The CM sports the green-band cap, while his political rival and former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal of the BJP favours the maroon-band cap.

Political furore

CM Virbhadra Singh’s remarks blaming the Brahmin community of Mandi parliamentary constitutency for the defeat of his wife Pratibha Singh have created a political furore and given the opposition BJP an opportunity to lambast him. Former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal led the BJP attack on Virbhadra, while its state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti termed the CM’s action a result of his “emotions for his wife”.

Contributed by Anshu Seth, Chitleen K Sethi, Gurpreet Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil and Gaurav Bisht.

First Published: May 11, 2015 10:21 IST