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Regional buzz: After a fiery speech, a spicy ‘pakoda’ break

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

punjab Updated: Jun 25, 2018 16:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
HT regiona buzz,Punjab,Haryana
(Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Kultar Singh Sandhwan, whose remarks sparked protests by reporters at a press conference, remained unfazed despite apology by senior party leaders for his behaviour. When state unit co-president Balbir Singh and leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira were asked about their contradictory statements regarding referendum row, the Kotkapura MLA told reporters to desist from asking such questions. As angry reporters vociferously objected to his comments, Khaira and other party leaders apologised. But, Sandhwan, grandnephew of former president Zail Singh, reiterated his stand and went out. The press meet also got over within minutes and everyone came out, the legislator known for his fiery temper was found munching spicy and crispy pakodas. “If you were in such a hurry to have pakodas, we could have got them inside for you,” Jagraon MLA Sarvjit Kaur Manuke chuckled on seeing him. Sandhwan responded with a smug smile with no apparent regret about the ruckus his careless comments caused. No wonder AAP finds itself in trouble every now and then!

Row over history book refuses to die down

The controversy over Punjab’s new Class 12 history book doesn’t seem to end. A six-member oversight committee headed by noted historian Prof Kirpal Singh has rejected the book developed by the Punjab School Education Board, citing glaring errors, advising it to continue with earlier books which too, contain discrepancies. But few in the government want to speak on the panel’s recommendations. Top officers of education department have fingers on their lips whereas education minister OP Soni claims ignorance, saying he has not got anything from the review panel so far. “The chief minister (Capt Amarinder Singh) constituted the committee, but it has not put forth its view to the government. The panel should have given its report to the CM or me,” he told a reporter of this newspaper. Mum’s the word from the government!

Bickering in Muktsar Cong

All is not well in the Congress in Muktsar. The ruling party decided to hold a protest against the Centre on high petrol and diesel prices. Congress leader Jagjit Singh Honey Fattanwala and ex-MLA Karan Kaur Brar planned separate protests on Tuesday. Though Brar later changed the venue of her protest and joined the one organised by Fattanwala, the latter had a grouse. “Brar doesn’t invite me to her protests,” he griped at the demonstration. Fattanwala had grumbled about being ignored in the party earlier also. When asked, Brar said all party leaders were united and the protest was against the Modi government.

Punjab PR dept’s social media push

In a bid to publicise the Congress government’s programmes and policies, Punjab public relations (PR) department has decided to go big on social media. Though it started the initiative during the previous SAD-BJP government, the department wants to give it a push now. Nitin Saluja, Facebook’s policy programs manager for India, South and Central Asia, last week shared tips with the department officers and staff, telling them to post more videos. They were also given lessons on ‘organic’ and ‘inorganic’ page promotion. ‘Inorganic promotion’, which means acquiring the “likes”, targeted promotions requires funds which the department is still to get. Don’t be surprised if you notice a sudden surge in PR efforts of the state government on social media in coming days!

Polls on mind, Hry govt to highlight its feats

Already in poll mode, the BJP government in Haryana has now decided to go full throttle on various fronts. While chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is on a road-show spree, besides holding rallies in big villages, a plan is afoot for ministers to hold press conferences in Chandigarh on Mondays and Thursdays. A roster is being readied and the brief is to speak about the achievements of the state government, its new schemes and other topical updates. In their absence, top officials of their departments would have to chip in.

Saini’s open challenge to BJP

Rebel BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini, who is troubling the party with his anti-Jat remarks ever since the community leaders demanded reservation under the other backward classes (OBC) category, has now challenged the party leadership to throw him out. Saini has already announced to form a new party by August, saying that he would not contest the next Lok Sabha election on BJP ticket at any cost. However, he is still to quit the party. “I am still with the BJP and the ball is in the party’s court,” says the leader who has been trying to woo the backwards and Dalits by accusing the Jats of snatching their quota. And, his removal has become a challenge for the BJP even though he openly criticises the party and its leaders.

Hooda Jr doesn’t get chance to speak

Rohtak MP Deepender Hooda was on Sunday left red-faced at not being given chance to address the public during the Metro inauguration. The BJP seems to have learned the lesson from last time when the Congress MP had spoken during inauguration of electrified rail track between Rohtak and Jind in presence of then railway minister Suresh Prabhu. Deepender had then tried to hijack the show by claiming credit for the project and accusing BJP of slowing down development in Haryana. This time, he was not given a chance to take the credit for Metro --- a project he claimed to have brought to Haryana.

Bali’s idea backfires

Congress leader GS Bali, who was food and civil supplies minister in the previous government, is having sleepless nights. During his tenure, Bali had made it mandatory for the fair price shops supplying medicines to display his mobile number. The objective was to get feedback and redress grievances. Though he lost the assembly election and his party is out of power, many shops still have his number on display. And, he keeps getting calls from people about the non-availability of medicines.

Yoga Day, it’s all strategic position

BJP workers celebrated the 4th International Yoga Day in Shimla with great enthusiasm. They thronged the Ridge Ground in the wee hours of morning for yoga exercises that were led by Himachal governor Acharya Devvrat, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and Union health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda. Local leaders and party workers jostled with each other to position themselves close to leaders who were in front rows. Of course, genuine yoga practitioners weren’t too happy.

Jai Ram wife’s keep low profile

Unlike many other state politicians, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and his family members keep a low profile. On the International Yoga Day, when Thakur and his wife, Sadhna Thakur, a doctor by profession, reached The Ridge, they were congratulated by scores of workers and local leaders as the event coincided with their wedding anniversary. After the yoga session got over, many of them took to Facebook to post congratulatory messages. However, Sadhna Thakur went away quietly, driving to a canteen run by Almighty Blessings, a local non-governmental organisation, at Indira Gandhi Medical College and served food to attendants who accompanied the patients.

(Contributed by Navneet Sharma, Sarbmeet Singh, Gurpreet Nibber, Rajesh Moudgil, Neeraj Mohan, Hardik Anand and Gaurav Bisht)

First Published: Jun 25, 2018 11:13 IST