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Regional buzz: Keeping tabs on the corridors of power in Punjab, Haryana and HP

The Delhi triumph has got the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters in the state excited. While many wanted the party to contest the civic body polls in Punjab, AAP’s state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur feels party’s decision to not contest would indirectly benefit it.

chandigarh Updated: Feb 16, 2015 16:30 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Chandigarh,Delhi,Aam Aadmi Party

‘Advantage AAP’

The Delhi triumph has got the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters in the state excited. While many wanted the party to contest the civic body polls in Punjab, AAP’s state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur feels party’s decision to not contest would indirectly benefit it. “With the SAD and BJP pitted against each other at a number of places, the divide between the two partners will widen. It will continue like this till the 2017 assembly polls. If we were contesting, they would have united against us,” Chhotepur said, calling it a tactical move. The party seems content with watching the two partners fight.

Only God can tell

Pitted against alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in a number of wards of different civic bodies, the BJP has left it to God to ensure that there is no untoward incident between the workers of the two parties. Speaking on Tuesday’s incident in Tarn Taran in which brother of party leader and minister Anil Joshi was assaulted by some Akali workers, BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh and state unit president Kamal Sharma said that there was no guarantee that such incidents would not be repeated. “Only God can tell,” said the two saffron party leaders.

A sweet celebration

Punjab state civil supplies corporation limited (Punsup) officials celebrated Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in Delhi with gulab jamuns and paneer pakoras on Tuesday. The corporation staff was hooked to television sets from the morning for the poll results. And soon as it became clear that AAP was headed for victory there was jubilation all around and the staff decided to have a quick party. “No celebration is complete without sweets, so we decided to have gulab jamuns,” said an official.

Police stations and pride

Tall claims on development, irrespective of incomplete projects, may have earned SAD legislators and councillors criticism in the recent months. But the Akali brigade seems undeterred and continues with self praise at every public event. The most recent example being the “excitement” with which local SAD councilor Tanvir Singh Dhaliwal addressed a public gathering in Ludhiana, praising the state government for opening a police station in his ward. “Eh sade layi ik uplabdhi hei ki sadde area wich police station khul gaya hei,” he said. Taking a jibe, a Congress leader said, “Hats off to the Akalis who take pride in the opening new police stations, the number of which is directly proportional to the crime rate in the area.”

‘Tax ki maar’

Politics trumped economics when the state council of ministers in Haryana took up the hike in value-added tax (VAT) on petrol two weeks ago to offset an adverse impact of falling fuel prices on the state’s tax revenues. But just then an aide of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar drew attention to the party’s poll campaign in Delhi and the cabinet deferred the matter, citing “need for more info” as the reason. As soon as the Delhi polls got over, the government on Thursday raised the tax rate by five percentage points, triggering loud protests by the opposition parties. “BJP ki Delhi mein haar, Haryana mein logon par tax ki maar” (the BJP lost Delhi and is punishing the people in Haryana by raising tax) is how one of them described it. And the ruling party leaders have only themselves to blame.

Trip down under

Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda is pretty excited about his weeklong trip down under on the “invitation” of the Australian government, which invites one politician from India every year. “Leaders like@narendramodi ji, Rahul Gandhi ji, @PandaJay etc had taken similar trips upon invitations by Australian govt in past,” he tweeted. While the three-time Congress MP has been giving regular updates on his meetings with local officials, his PR team, led by a former aide of his father, is no less enthusiastic about his “official” tour under the special visitor’s programme. They have been issuing press statements to keep the MP’s supporters informed about the warm welcome he received and his talks on “bilateral relations”.

Adventure of politics

Haryana chief minister ML Khattar has a rich sense of humour. Speaking as the chief guest on the concluding day of a function organized by National Adventure Club in Chandigarh, he said that politics was also a sort of adventure. Stunning and amusing the audience in one go, Khattar said that anything could happen in political adventures. “I had not contested any election in life yet I became the chief minister. At Delhi, Kiran Bedi, the chief ministerial candidate of the party, lost,” he said. Though he did not elaborate on the political adventures, his remark has remained the buzz in the political and bureaucratic circles since.

Not pleased with CM?

Health minister Anil Vij, who has been in the news because of his tweets, seems upset with some bureaucrats in his department. On a file pertaining to inauguration of a trauma center and a renovated building of general hospital, Panchkula by CM ML Khattar, the minister wrote that he was neither being consulted nor informed about functions being held by the department. The result: the CM had to resort to dinner diplomacy to placate the minister. That notwithstanding Vij tweeted, after the Delhi election results, that winning election was one thing and maintaining a win another. Appears that Khattar will have to dine with his health minister once again.

AAP trending

The AAP’s monumental triumph in Delhi has elicited interesting reactions on social media. While Haryana CM Manohar Lal
Khattar, who has been tweeting a lot lately, was quiet on the poll result, two IAS officers from the state did share their thoughts on Twitter. “Landslide electoral victories are essentially anger verdicts. There is little to choose between parties on purely development agenda,” tweeted IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who probably has more followers than any other serving bureaucrat. Another IAS officer Sumita Misra, additional principal secretary to chief minister, also tweeted: “Was a refreshing change to see (AAP chief Arvind) Kejriwal acknowledging his wife’s support. Not so common in Indian politics. #Kejriwal.”

Virbhadra can praise

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh isn’t known to be very generous with praise, but he surprises everyone sometimes. He patted Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on the back for the three-day convention held by the party to seek feedback on its revival. At the same time, the CM also appreciated AICC general secretary Ambika Soni for the success of the event even though it was Sukhu who had done all the legwork.

Cagey Bali

Himachal Pradesh transport minister Gurmukh Singh Bali likes to throw tantrums, but he surprised his party colleagues the other day. When the Congress workers were asked for their suggestions on ways to revive the party, Bali turned cagey. He told the party leaders that he would give his suggestions in writing. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh and AICC general secretary Ambika Soni, who were also present, were left wondering why the minister didn’t air his views in front of party workers.

Unusual birthday gift

Knowing his proximity to chief minister Virbhadra Singh, forest officials in Chamba made their best efforts to keep forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri happy on his 68th birthday. They issued advertisements in vernacular newspapers using government insignia to felicitate the minister, ignoring their service and conduct rules. Their eagerness to please Bharmouri surprised everyone as such advertisements were never given by the officers even for the CM.

CM’s memoirs

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, scion of former princely state of Bushahr, is penning his memoirs. The plain-speaking octogenarian leader, who has been harping on free and fair organisational elections time and again, told his party colleagues the other day that he would have one full chapter on the party’s organisational set-up in his biography. Almost everyone agrees that coming from someone not known to mince words, the biography is something to look forward to.

Contributed by: Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Anshu Seth, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil and Gaurav Bisht

First Published: Feb 16, 2015 14:35 IST