Of Bajwa’s fitness mantra, Jai Ram’s new troubleshooter, and more
From political googlies to Sherry to the big dreams of Lal Singh, a round up of all that is making news in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and J&K.Updated: Jun 04, 2018 13:54 IST
Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa is on a weight reduction mission these days. The 61-year-old Congress leader has hit the gym with a vengeance and can be spotted working out in trendy fitness gear in Chandigarh. A former president of Punjab Congress, Bajwa, who has lost some political weight in recent years, has plenty of time at hand to shed a few extra kilos. The MP has also been sniping at Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh off and on. As there is no love lost between the two, Bajwa needs to get into shape for political battles ahead. What puts extra pressure on him is the position of president of the Judo Federation of India that he was elected to in February this year.
Bowling political googlies to Sherry
Punjab rural and urban development minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa is the most busy man. Not as much with work of his two heavy-duty departments but checkmating local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s every move. Be it installing Amritsar mayor, sand mining policy or issues overlapping between urban development and local government, a portfolio Sidhu was eyeing. While Sidhu says Bajwa came to his house during mayoral polls when he was not there, Bajwa says Sidhu sent an invite for meeting on mining policy on Sunday when he was in his constituency. But publicly, Bajwa calls himself a fan of Sidhu’s cricket and apologises for everything and everyone. Politics is a different ballgame and Sidhu will have to learn to tackle Bajwa’s googlies!
Shahkot: Sidhu takes a dig at Badals, Khaira
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu was at his satirical best after the Congress won the Shahkot bypoll with an unexpected margin. Launching a no-holds-barred attack on SAD chief Sukhbir Badal and former minister Bikram Majithia, Sidhu said former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was honoured with ‘Faqhr-e-Quam’ by Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, did not come for campaigning as he saw the writing on the wall. “He stayed away from canvassing but sent ‘Fukre-e-Quam,” said Sidhu, referring to Sukhbir and Majithia. On Aam Aadmi Party’s performance, the minister said that Sukhpal Khaira should resign from the party in shame. “After becoming leader of opposition in the state assembly, Khaira did more than 2,000 press conferences on different issues in one year, but his party got just 1,900 votes in Shahkot. One press conference did not get him even one vote,” he said.
Cong leaders vie for publicity pie
Congress leaders seem keen to gain maximum political mileage from debt waiver functions held across the state. In Muktsar, the event left Congress leader Jagjit Singh Honey Fattanwala disappointed. Honey, in a complaining tone, said the district administration had failed to invite him, but he still came for the function as he belongs to the ruling Congress. Fattanwala, who is related to a minister, told the officials to ensure that party leaders are not ignored at such events.
HC order puts Hry Cong on backfoot
The opposition Congress in Haryana seems to have been caught on the wrong foot after the Punjab and Haryana High Court set aside the regularisation of contractual employees, a decision taken by the former Congress chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his cabinet colleagues in 2014. The regularisation was done by the Congress government in a patently illegal manner and in violation of Supreme Court guidelines merely to appease the employees before the assembly polls. Soon after the HC decision, senior Congress leaders started laying the blame on the present BJP regime for not properly defending the matter in the high court. Knowing well that their decision itself was on a weak footing – the cabinet having overlooked the contrary advice of the law secretary and disregarding all legal aspects while pushing for this poll centric decision – the Congress leaders are bound to draw flak for their imprudent remarks.
Poll time: RSS gets into action mode
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of BJP, has become active in Haryana ahead of the parliamentary and state polls. While BJP’s national general secretary Arun Singh was in Chandigarh to hold meetings with chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, ministers and all other leaders, RSS sah-sarkaryavah Krishna Gopal also held meetings with state leaders last week. Unlike Singh, the latter met only Khattar and a few ministers. As usual, not many party leaders were willing to talk about what transpired in the meeting between and the ministers, calling it a “routine meeting”.
Shimla’s water woes: Mayor leaves BJP red-faced
At a time when Shimla was reeling under the worst-ever water crisis, city mayor Kusum Sadarte also left her party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), red-faced. The mayor, who was on an official trip to China, drew flak from the city residents and opposition parties. While not a single BJP leader defended her foreign visit, deputy mayor Rakesh Sharma had to bear the brunt of public anger. A first-time councillor from Panthaghati, he visited every locality where any residents protested against water scarcity. BJP state vice-president Ganesh Dutt also tried to pacify people, but by posting messages on social media.
Cong’s empty promises
The opposition Congress tried to make the most of water crisis, but only by issuing statements and threats. Shimla rural MLA Vikramaditya Singh threatened to launch protest there if there was no improvement in water supply by May 30. While the city residents continued to hold protests, the legislator’s threat turned out to be an empty one. Similarly, Himachal Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu also set a five-day deadline for the administration to restore water supply. However, none of the Congress leaders took to the streets. Empty buckets, empty threats!
Jai Ram’s new troubleshooter
Health and family welfare minister Vipin Singh Parmar has emerged as chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s new troubleshooter even as Shimla legislator and education minister Suresh Bhardwaj kept away from the state capital. Unlike irrigation and public health minister Mahender Singh, Parmar did not visit only the water scarcity hit areas, but remained at the forefront of counter-attacking the Congress and giving statements of behalf of the government during the ongoing crisis.
BJP’s Lal Singh & his big dreams
BJP legislator Lal Singh, who was axed from the ministry along with Chander Parkash Ganga for their presence at Hindu Ekta Rally, has been holding rallies to garner support for a CBI probe into the infamous Kathua rape and murder case. Though he suffered a setback, Singh remained unperturbed and is now eyeing the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 general elections. Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh is the present incumbent. On Friday, when asked about competition from the ex-minister, Jitendra Singh said he does not feel the need to answer this question as parliamentary elections are still a year away. “There will be many aspirants by that time. I can provide you 8 to 10 names. This is what the festival of democracy is. You can also be a candidate,” he said.
(Contributed by Navneet Sharma, Sukhdeep Kaur, Ravinder Vasudeva, Sarbmeet Singh, Hitender Rao, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht, Ravi K Khajuria)