Regional buzz: Capt Amarinder Singh, the smart CM
Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.punjab Updated: Feb 05, 2018 13:53 IST
The smart CM
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is famous for his candidness. But he also knows when to duck. During an interaction with select journalists at his residence on Saturday, the CM was asked for his reaction to a news report that a CD recovered by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) contains names of IAS officers and politicians who received bribes from a contractor named in irrigation scam. Amarinder said he is yet to get any probe report from VB. Instead, he asked the scribe for the names of bureaucrats. The journalist promptly blurted out the names of three IAS officers. “Sometimes, these vigilance people do not share full details about their ongoing probes. And I have to depend on feedback from the media,” he responded with a chuckle, effectively evading the query.
Aujla, Malik have focus on flights
When they got two MPs – Lok Sabha MP Gurjit Singh Aujla of the Congress and Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik of the BJP — residents of Amritsar felt they have an advantage, as both would put their energies in pushing for the development of the city. Aujla and Malik are active but have focused their attention on the international airport and flights. They spend so much time talking about flights that one gets a feeling there is no other issue in the city. When new flights were announced from Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport to Nanded (Maharashtra) and Birmingham, the two MPs claimed credit. Not a day passes when Aujla and Malik do not have something to say on modernisation of airport or flights. The city residents are only waiting for the two to pay attention to their concerns on the ground with the same force.
Capt skips event, residents fume
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh used to hold long meetings with the people before the assembly elections, but his constant absence from scheduled events in Ludhiana has left the residents fuming. The CM was to inaugurate a school building in Giaspura last Monday, but skipped the event. This is the third time in six months that Amarinder has cancelled his Ludhiana visit. “Since the state elections, he has come to the city only once to visit the site of a building collapse and has not held any meetings here. No doubt, politicians are seen only before elections,” said an industrialist.
Khattar trying to be Mr Popular
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is trying to connect with the people at grassroots these days. The CM, who was earlier often seen avoiding unofficial gatherings, especially after he was heckled post Jat-stir, now stops his cavalcade at different places to interact with people. The other day, Khattar stopped his vehicle in Bhiwani and asked a young girl to recite a multiplication table of 12. He then gifted Rs 500 to her for getting it right. Prior to this, Khattar had stopped the cavalcade for a roadside cobbler in Kurukshetra and then announced Rs 50,000 from his discretionary grant for him. On another trip, the CM stopped by golgappa vendors in Rohtak and Panipat to enquire about their business.
Rathore at R-Day event : Row refuses to die down
The privilege given to the controversial former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore during the Republic Day function at Panchkula caused a huge furore. The civil society sought to know how the former DGP who was sentenced for molesting a teenager was allowed to get a seat on the dais. Chief minister ML Khattar, too, said he would get the matter examined. However, there are quite a few things which are obvious in the entire episode. The officiating deputy commissioner of Panchkula, Mukul Kumar, happens to be a Rajput and so is Rathore. It is believed the senior Rajput, well known for his stubborn stiff neck outlook, would have piled on his much junior colleague to get a privileged seat, leaving Kumar with little options. The former DGP was invited to the R-Day function last year too but didn’t get a seat on the dais.
No end to bickering in Haryana Cong
The verbal spars between the camps having allegiance to Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar and former chief minister Bhupinder Hooda are common. The MLAs, MPs and other leaders belonging to the Hooda group were conspicuous for their absence at the state unit’s “manthan shivir” (deliberations camp) in Panchkula last week. Tanwar, in his address at the event, repeatedly said that workers who attend such “shivirs” would get respect in the party and tickets for polls. A clear message to Hooda loyalists, but few expect them take him seriously.
HP guv drives the point home
Himachal governor Acharya Devvrat is known for his wit. Addressing agriculture scientists at the Palampur agriculture university on ‘zero-budget natural agriculture’, he cracked jokes on them. The governor while explaining the benefits of the ancient form of agriculture said the practice was abandoned for inorganic farming that increases the crop yield but has many side effects including some incurable diseases. “The source of diseases is your home (university) where you teach chemical-based agriculture practices. So you should be booked under 302 (Section of Indian Penal Code related to punishment of murder),” he said with a chuckle. The remark had the crowd in splits. The underlying message for chemical-free farming was loud and clear nonetheless.
HP govt, Cong lock horns over closure of colleges
A war of words is on between leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress over the state government’s move to close down a dozen-odd colleges in the state. The Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government attributed the move to low enrolment, but former chief minister Virbhadra Singh has threatened to move court if the colleges opened by him are closed. The CM was quick to grab the opportunity to take a dig at his predecessor. Referring to a case of disproportionate assets against Virbhadra, Thakur reminded the former chief minister that he was already hanging around the court.
(Contributed by Surjit Singh, Ravinder Vasudeva, Aneesha Sareen Kumar, Hardik Anand, Hitender Rao, Rajesh Moudgil, Naresh K Thakur)