Regional Buzz: Bhagwant Mann’s Sukhbir jibe and Ambika Soni’s e-mail mania
Keeping tabs on power politics in all of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.punjab Updated: Jul 11, 2016 11:30 IST
Creating buzz on social media
As political scene hots up in Punjab, Congress leader Sunil Jakhar has strengthened his presence on social media. He has launched ‘SJ NEWS 33’, a new WhatsApp group, to lambast the SAD-BJP combine, but was not sure of significance of the number (33) mentioned in the group title. “The boys might have mentioned it to differentiate from other WhatsApp groups,” said the Congress MLA. He is happy with his social media team for creating buzz about his meetings in the Abohar assembly constituency on Facebook and WhatsApp nevertheless.
Mann’s ‘flying’ Sukhbir jibe
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann never misses any opportunity to take a dig at Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. Addressing a gathering during AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal’s visit to Khanna last week, he said Sukhbir also visits the poor, but in his chopper. “Has Sukhbir ever visited the poor? Yes, we all know he goes to slums and houses of poor in his chopper. He waves to the poor people from the top,” said Mann, evoking a thunderous applause from the audience.
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh might have welcomed the appointment of Himachal Pradesh MLA Asha Kumari as party’s Punjab affairs in-charge, saying it will help the Congress cause in the state and not negate the state unit’s efforts. But there are a few people who are keeping their fingers crossed. Kumari, though related to HP chief minister Virbhadra Singh, has not been on the best of terms with him. Virbhadra is also a close relative of the Punjab Congress chief. His daughter is married to Amarinder’s grandson. Who would Amarinder choose in case the need arises? A lot would depend on how things pan out from here.
Soni’s email mania
Punjab Congress campaign committee in-charge Ambika Soni has a corporate style of functioning. Though the state assembly elections are round the corner, she insists on communicating with journalists through email. When a reporter tried to get in touch with the Congress leader, her staff told him to send an email, adding that she would respond “appropriately”. With things moving fast politically, the party, which has been out of power in the state for 10 years, needs to take a relook at its strategy.
Amarinder’s embarrassing moment
Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, who was in Ludhiana last week as part of his ‘Halke vich Captain’ programme, had a taste of criticism in public. When Amarinder was hearing grievances of residents of the Atam Nagar constituency, one of them used the occasion to speak on internal wrangling in the Congress and advised him to first make an effort to bring back those who are offended. This “public embarrassment” did not go down well with the organisers who insisted that he confine his statements to problems of the area and not render advice on party matters.
Cong’s slapgate trouble
Punjab Congress leaders were aghast when a senior leader, who is known for his calm demeanour, slapped a junior party colleague during a meeting in Ludhiana last week. The block-level leader was demanding a higher position ahead of the Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh’s visit to the city, but got slapped instead. Though he kept griping about the ugly episode for a while, the block leader was pacified and told not to open up in front of the media. He neither lodged a formal complaint nor was willing to go on record.
No hoarding politics, please
All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Kamal Nath turned the tables on scribes with his presence of mind at a media interaction after a meeting of the state executive of Haryana Congress last week. The veteran leader, who was recently appointed in-charge of party affairs in Haryana, was bombarded with questions on hoardings, welcoming him with sycophantic slogan “Upar Bhole Nath, Neeche Kamal Nath”, placed outside the Haryana Congress office in Chandigarh. When his attention was drawn to the “missing photo” of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda from some hoardings, he downplayed the issue. “I don’t believe in politics of photos on posters and hoardings. I believe only in work,” Kamal Nath said, effectively ducking the queries. On internal bickering in the state Congress, he said there was no groupism in the party, only lack of coordination.
Friends turn foes
He might have managed to get the better of leaders of rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on his home turf, Dharamshala. But urban development minister Sudhir Sharma is now facing opposition from some of his party colleagues there. It is his friends-turned-foes who have started to question his moves and initiatives every now and then. While most residents welcomed the formation of municipal corporation in Dharamshala, a local leader and member of State Milk Producers’ Federation, who was once considered close to the minister, held a press conference, calling it a “disastrous step” and demanded rollback of the decision. About a half dozen other leaders also joined the chorus the next day, levelling allegations against the minister.
In the line of fire
Loyalists of Himachal transport minister GS Bali are gunning for Independent legislator from Kangra, Pawan Kajal. The reason: He had criticised the minister for a remark on reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC). The young MLA has to cope with regular attacks from the minister’s supporters. The other day, a war of words broke out between Kajal and civic body chief Suman Verma, who accused the former of being “untruthful and making false claims on development”. He accused the MLA of not sanctioning a single penny for the projects going on in temple town. Kajal responded by saying that some desperate people are trying to defame him.
(Contributed by Aneesha Sareen, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Prabhjit Singh, Arjun Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil and Naresh K Thakur)