HT regional buzz | Agnihotri gets dressing down and AAP’s topi craze

Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir

punjab Updated: Nov 28, 2016 12:21 IST
Hindustan Times
Mukesh Agnihotri,Prime Minister Narendra Modi,AAP
Himachal industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri is seen as a close confidante of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, but people of his Haroli assembly constituency in Una district were left completely awestruck when the chief minister scolded him on the dais at a public meeting.(Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu )


Himachal industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri is seen as a close confidante of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, but people of his Haroli assembly constituency in Una district were left completely awestruck when the chief minister scolded him on the dais at a public meeting. Virbhadra was addressing a public meeting with Agnihotri standing behind him, expecting announcement of some new projects. Agnihotri handed over a piece of paper to the CM midway through his speech and whispered something in his ear. An upset Virbhadra said: “Main kisi ke kehne pe kuan mein nahin kood sakta (I can’t jump into a well if someone says so)”. Then, he told a red-faced Agnihotri that his demands would have to be placed before the state cabinet before taking any decision.


A short video clip that showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in discussion with Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in presence of CM Parkash Singh Badal, Union ministers JP Nadda and Harsimrat Kaur Badal and state BJP president Vijay Sampla at a public rally in Bathinda went viral on social media last week. There is talk among social media aficionados that the Akalis were rebuffed by Modi over some issue. Other theories are also doing the rounds. But BJP leaders have a different take. PM, they say, was replying to Sukhbir’s query on the Indus Water Treaty. Only PM and Sukhbir know the truth.


Gurpreet Singh Waraich (HT File Photo)

Ahead of assembly polls, Punjab politicians love to flaunt their caste if it suits them. After Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state convener Gurpreet Ghuggi changed his name to Gurpreet Singh ‘Waraich’, BJP MLA from Phagwara Som Parkash, a retired IAS officer, has become Som Parkash ‘Kainth’. His banners and posters have his full name ‘Kainth’, a prominent ‘gotra’ in Ravidassia community having a strong vote share in all 23 constituencies in Doaba. Since Ravidassia community is in direct clash with Valmikis, his full name has the capacity to impress a section of voters. Already, speculation is rife that the Congress may field Valmiki leader Joginder Mann from the assembly segment.


The craze for ‘topi’ (cap) seems to be waning among workers of the AAP. The white cap with the party symbol (broom) and “Main Hun Aam Aadmi” slogan is rarely seen adorning the heads of its leaders, including Delhi chief minister and national convener Arvind Kejriwal, these days, whereas just about every party volunteer used to wear it earlier. The change has left their rivals baffled. While a leader of a rival party said the AAP has abandoned its visual emblem, its supporters don’t think so. “In the coming days, it will be topi all the way. It will make a comeback this poll season,” said an AAP enthusiast.


The Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA) director general SP Gupta, a retired IAS officer, has strong RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) connections. Gupta, who was re-employed and made the HIPA boss by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar in 2015, got a two-month extension last week. The former bureaucrat, who superannuated in 2009, had bigwigs of the state government, RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the foundation laying ceremony of a health centre, Kamdhenu Aarogya Sansthan, at his gaushala (cow shelter) in Bissar-Akbarpur village of Nuh district on Saturday. Khattar, Union minister of state for planning and urban development Rao Inderjit, Hari Mandir Ashram head Swami Dharamdev, RSS prant sah-sanghchalak Pawan Jindal, Gau Seva Ayog chairman Bhani Ram Mangla, MLAs Tejpal Tanwar and Rahisa Khan and functionaries of several organisations were present at the event. Both Khattar and Rao Inderjit announced to give Rs 21 lakh and Rs 11 lakh from their discretionary funds to the institution.


Ashok Tanwar congress leader (HT Photo)

Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar has been sporting a thick beard lately. When asked about his new look, Tanwar recalled the October 6 incident of assault on him by some party workers, including former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s personal security officer (PSO). The HPCC chief said he was hit on the head and had swelling on the face too. “I still have swelling on right side of my face. If I shave, it would be prominent,” he said, refusing to take any questions on the assault. Tanwar was beaten up by some party workers at an event held in New Delhi to welcome AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi who was returning after completing his Kisan Yatra.


called by the Opposition parties on November 28 against the demonetisation drive by the Centre has support of the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana. But supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aren’t taking it lying down. They have launched a campaign on social media against Monday’s bandh to counter their rivals. A poster, ‘I Don’t Support Bharath Bandh’, has gone viral WhatsApp, a social messaging app, with BJP backers and workers pushing it. “I don’t support Bharath Bandh because I am against corruption, black money and corrupt people (sic),” reads the message, urging the people to back Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demonetisation.


Virbhadra Singh (HT Photo)

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh has already made clear that his son, state Youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh, will contest the assembly elections due next year. But the ruling clan is still not ready to open its cards on the assembly segment where he will be fielded. At a function in Solan, the CM dropped a hint that Vikramaditya could contest from anywhere in the district. But that was vague, as Solan has five assembly constituencies. Perhaps the family is still to make up its mind or thinks it is too early to announce the assembly segment.


Himachal Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu was detained by police during a protest against the demoneti-sation drive. Sukhu, who was leading protesters in Shimla, was whisked away as soon as the Congress workers burnt an effigy of PM Narendra Modi. The party workers were de-boarded from the bus at Kanlog. This was the first protest where Congress activist were detained. And Sukhu’s supporters went around claiming that he is the leader to watch in Himachal Pradesh.


Demonetisation of high-value currency has affected not only the common people, but also politicians in the state. And the worst hit were politicians who had planned some festivities. A Congress leader from Shahpur, Tourism Development Board vice-chairman Vijai Singh Mankotia had also

planned a big celebration on his birthday on November 23. His plans were dashed when the Centre announced to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes. “Our people are suffering in long queues outside the banks. In such a situation, how can I celebrate my birthday?” he told his supporters.

(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Ravinder Vasudeva, Harpreet Kaur, Navneet Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh K Thakur)

First Published: Nov 28, 2016 11:59 IST