HT Regional buzz | When Asha Kumari speaks: Be Khamosh! and ‘Gappi’ vs ‘Gappi’

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

punjab Updated: Dec 26, 2016 13:45 IST
Team HT
Team HT
Hindusatn Times
HT Regional buzz,‘Gappi’ vs ‘Gappi’,Sukhbir Singh Badal
Punjab politicians can blame the heat for losing their cool while facing tough questions from the media. But what about those from the cooler climes of the neighbouring Himachal? Congress general secretary in-charge for Punjab, Asha Kumari, a former royal, believes she has the first right to speak. (Illustration By Daljeet Kaur Sandhu)


Punjab politicians can blame the heat for losing their cool while facing tough questions from the media. But what about those from the cooler climes of the neighbouring Himachal? Congress general secretary in-charge for Punjab, Asha Kumari, a former royal, believes she has the first right to speak. At a press conference on Sunday, Kumari, who flanks Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh at all rallies and press events, jumped to Captain’s rescue and allowed no interruptions to the media. Kumari’s logic was as baffling as her style. She said she did not become a minister in Himachal and was more proud to be in party’s organisation. Wonder what a certain Virbhadra Singh has to say to that. As for Asha, she seems to be inspired by actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha who loves to say, Khamosh (shut up)!


Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and (right) Bhagwant Mann. (HT Photos)

They both call each other gappis (one who blabbers). AAP MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann, announced as party’s Jalalabad candidate against Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal, is itching to play a match of wits with Badal junior. But Sukhbir has yet to announce his candidature from his seat. Earlier in his speeches, Mann used to call SAD a “sad” party that cannot give happiness to anyone. Now, the comedian-turned-politician has a new meaning for SAD --- the ‘Son And Dad’ party. “Look at the distribution of tickets. Be it Balwinder Bhunder, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Ranjit Brahmpura, Sucha Singh Langah, SS Dhindsa, Tota Singh or CM Parkash Singh Badal himself, the son of every leader has been given a ticket,” quips Mann.


Sucha Singh Chhotepur (HT Photo)

For former Aam Aadmi party (AAP) convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, it is AAP and its national chief, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who are a “bigger evil” for Punjab. Chhotepur, now floated his own, Apna Punjab Party (APP) after being unceremoniously ousted by Kejriwal over an alleged “cash sting”, now dubs the ruling Badals and Congress as “lesser evil”. While answering a query of the media, Chhotepur said, “The Badal and Congress governments have looted Punjab for many years but Kejriwal is looting people of Punjab by just showing them a trailer of good and honest governance which will remain a distant dream for them.” These nuggets of wisdom from the old warhorse show in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, just permanent interests.


Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal does not spare anyone his jibes. Badal lost his cool during his Sangat Darshan programme at Jalandhar Cantonment following continuous “disruptions” by party candidate Sarabjit Makkar when he was talking to representatives of various panchayats. Badal publicly snubbed Makkar saying, “Kakaji twade toh wad akal twadi gharwali nu hai (your wife seems to be wiser than you).” This when Makkar’s wife was also present on the stage. While meeting another delegation, Badal said, “First Jagbir Brar, our MLA from Jalandhar Cantt, fled to the Congress. Now Pargat Singh too has gone to Congress. Make him the MLA and he might also flee.” Was Makkar blushing? Only if he got the pun!


In a damage control mode in Kartarpur assembly segment, revenue minister Bikram Majithia got a reality check on “anti-incumbency” within party. While meeting senior SAD leaders in Lambran, Majithia had a tough time listening to their grievances against someone who shares his clout in Jalandhar as “Chotta Majithia”, a term coined by AAP for state transport minister and party’s Jalandhar district chief Ajit Singh Kohar. One leader seems to have told Majithia, “Kohar ne beda garak kar dita Akali Dal da Jalandhar vich (Kohar has ruined the party in Jalandhar)”. Another told him Kohar was trying his best to defeat SAD MLA from Nakodar, Gurpartap Wadala. Majithia must have been left wondering, “Bade miyan toh bade miyan, chotte miyan...”


Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju. (HT Photo)

You cannot stop Union minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju, from speaking his mind. But at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the 7th NDRF Battalion at Ladhowal campus, it was the schoolchildren holding gas balloons for the minister who could not hold on to them. As the wait got longer, many balloons went off in the air before the minister arrived. The organisers were seen frantically instructing students on the mike not to release them till the minister came. By the time Rijiju actually arrived, half of the balloons were already in the air.


Haryana health minister Anil Vij. (HT photo)

The SYL canal issue has only seen some sabre-rattling by political parties in Punjab and Haryana. Even as the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has started holding rallies in villages to garner support on the issue and INLD leader Abhay Chautala squarely blames Congress for its “double-speak”, former Congress chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda says INLD is only “doing drama to incite a conflict” among farmers. But the best has come from Haryana health minister Anil Vij. Taking a dig at INLD, Vij tweeted that he would give a spade (‘kassi’) and 1 kilogram of ‘desi ghee’ to INLD state president Ashok Arora, if the INLD would go to Punjab to dig the SYL canal.


The claims of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar that he has held rallies in all 90 assembly segments of the state are being contradicted by his own party. Soon after Khattar made the claim at a rally at Garhi Sampla in Rohtak district, several party workers of Ambala Cantt were quick with a riposte. Health minister Anil Vij represents Ambala Cantt constituency and according to BJP workers, Khattar held a rally in Ambala city and not Ambala Cantt. The two seats are “too close for comfort”, Khattar would say.


While the Congress celebrated its four years in the government with much fanfare in Dharamshala, opposition BJP submitted a chargesheet to governor Acharya Dev Vrat. The saffron party asked its workers to unite for elections next year while its two leaders --- former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Union health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda --- showed the party was itself a divided house. Dhumal addressed party workers outside the governor’s house while those owing allegiance to Nadda remained seated with him inside the governor house.


Himachal Pradesh agriculture minister Sujan Singh Pathania believes in countering criticism with humour. In the state assembly, forest minister Thakar Singh Bharmouri and BJP state chief Satpal Singh Satti got into a verbal duel over the minister saying “who the hell are you” to Satti, who demanded that the words be expunged, as the language was “unparliamentary”. At this, Pathania, who sports a handlebar moustache and sits next to Bharmouri in the House, provided some comic relief by asking, “Hell is quite a common word. Isn’t it?”

(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Ravinder Vasudeva, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Aneesha Sareen, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh Kumar Thakur)

First Published: Dec 26, 2016 13:39 IST