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Regional buzz: A ride not to remember and deliberations on a ‘dinner date’

At the Aam Aadmi Party rebels’ Bathinda convention last week, Sukhpal Khaira, while hitting out at some of his party colleagues for not sticking by him, took a dig at a party leader by calling him “Bhabhi”.

punjab Updated: Aug 06, 2018 11:42 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Regional buzz,Punjab,Haryana
(Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)

Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K:

A ride not to remember

When Punjab BJP chief and Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik held a road show in Amritsar on July 28 to pep up the party cadres and counter a revolt against him, his overexcited supporters arranged an elephant at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport. Malik was to ride the elephant for extra impact. But their excitement vanished as the overweight MP had great difficulty climbing the elephant. When he managed, the BJP leader was precariously perched on the pachyderm and seen telling the mahout to hold his hands. The discomfort was writ large on his face during the short ride. On noticing his unease, the party workers asked him to come down. He had a tough time climbing down as well and needed help. The elephant ride did not go as planned, ending up as a source of amusement for many on social media.

Heckled Malik awaits ‘justice’

BJP state unit chief Shwait Malik was gheraoed by aggressive supporters of local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu last week for his remarks against the latter. Malik didn’t take kindly to the protest outside his residence. The Rajya Sabha MP later not only alleged that slogan-shouting Congress workers attacked him when he was leaving the house, but also lodged a police complaint through district president Anand Sharma. The city cops took no action on the complaint, prompting BJP workers to observe “Black Day”. They held a demonstration against the minister, but on the premises of their district office. After all this action and drama, Malik is still awaiting “justice”.

Who’s this Bhabhi?

At the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rebels’ Bathinda convention last week, Bholath MLA and ousted leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira, while hitting out at some of his party colleagues for not sticking by him, took a dig at a party leader by calling him “Bhabhi”. Though Khaira did not directly name the “artificial leader”, his remark created a buzz on social media with many people construing it as a reference to AAP state unit co-president Dr Balbir Singh. Also, some aficionados posted on social media posters of a Punjabi film, Balbiro Bhabhi. Made in 1981 on Punjabi folk legend of Sucha Soorma, it has a character, Balbir Kaur, nicknamed Balbiro, who was considered a villain. Khaira and Balbir don’t enjoy cordial relations and keep slamming each other.

‘Height of hypocrisy’

AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira, who organised a volunteers’ meet in Bathinda after being removed from the post of leader of opposition, had his son standing beside him while he was addressing the gathering. The photo of Khaira’s son Mehtab Singh Khaira went viral on social media, with leaders of opposition parties, in particular Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), taking digs at this “height of hypocrisy”. “They say we are against dynastic politics. Pehli stage Papa nu milli and bete nu launch karta (The father got the stage and he launched his son),” wrote one of them.

Sandhu gets taste of own medicine

A former journalist, AAP leader and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu got a taste of his own medicine the other day. Addressing a press conference at former leader of opposition (LOP) Sukhpal Khaira’s official residence in Chandigarh two days before the Bathinda show, the dissident legislator had to face a barrage of questions from journalists on the rebel group’s actions. Asked who were they (dissident MLAs) seeking autonomy for — state unit or legislature party — his reply was the “state unit”. On state unit co-chief Dr Balbir Singh, Sandhu said he was appointed by the central leadership without consultation. The next query was about his appointment as spokesperson of the AAP legislature party by Khaira. “My appointment was made because if Khaira were not there, we needed someone to talk to the press. It was LOP’s discretion,” he replied. Sandhu resigned from the post of spokesperson immediately after Khaira was sacked by the party.

Caught on wrong foot

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who held a press conference last week to announce his government’s decision to hand over probe into sacrilege cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation, said he had never sent rural development minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa to meet the protesters in Bargari. The protesters are demanding that Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report be made public. Bajwa, who met them twice, had been claiming that he represented the CM. The CM’s response left him speechless.

Of elections and camps

The remarks of two senior Congress leaders regarding ticket distribution became a talking point in political circles in Haryana recently. It began when former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, while addressing a rally in Tohana, said he would see to it that no one got the party ticket in lieu of money. His remarks were interpreted by some political observers, rightly or wrongly, as attack on a local leader, who is also an affluent businessman and belongs to party chief Ashok Tanwar’s camp. Reacting to Hooda’s statement, Tanwar later remarked at his rally in Kalanaur that he would ensure only a hardworking party member got the ticket and not a “favourite” of some leader. The crossfire provided ammunition to leaders of the ruling BJP who said that the Congress criteria for distributing tickets was clear from these statements.

The Kannadiga connection

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s wife, Sadhna Thakur, a doctor by profession, got a call from Bengaluru the other day. The caller, who spoke to her in Kannada, was none other than Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. He called to thank Sadhna and her husband for the help provided by them to the Karnataka government in its efforts to reunite a woman from Mysuru, who was languishing in the Shimla mental hospital for more than a year, with her family. The woman was found in Nagrota two years ago. The other reason behind the Karnataka CM’s call was to establish Kannadiga connection. Sadhna is originally from Shimoga in Karnataka. Her father Praladh Rao settled in Jaipur in 1963 and she got married to Jai Ram in 1994.

Deliberations on a ‘dinner date’

BJP leader and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has been lying low after his unexpected defeat in the assembly elections. Dhumal, who rarely visits the state capital, was in Shimla to attend the party’s core committee meeting the other day and made a quiet visit to Oakover, the official residence of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur. Both leaders dined together and discussed political issues. Speculation is rife that Dhumal wanted Jai Ram to accommodate his loyalists in the government. His supporters are upset over being “ignored” in the government.

Taking the fight to social media

Former Jawali legislator Neeraj Bharati has unleashed a frontal attack on an unnamed party colleague and newfound enemy on social media. In a series of posts on Facebook, Bharti, who suffers from the “foot-in-mouth disease”, claimed that a former minister who claims to be “Chanakya” of Kangra politics created a rift between him and senior leader GS Bali. “Don’t assume my posts are about you. But if you are affected then that obviously means you are guilty of something,” he wrote, while cautioning, “One should be extra careful when a close friend is a descendent of the demon king Ravana”. While Bharti seems unstoppable, people are trying to guess who his new target is.

(Contributed by Surjit Singh, Sachin Sharma, Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)

First Published: Aug 06, 2018 11:42 IST