Regional buzz: Captain cancels visit, OP Soni left red-faced; Manpreet tickles funny bone; The real ‘Naari Shakti’ on display and more

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByHT Correspondents
Jul 02, 2018 03:30 PM IST

Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir

Capt cancels visit, Soni left red-faced

(Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)
(Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)

Punjab school education minister Om Parkash Soni made arrangements enthusiastically for a state-level function held at Amritsar on June 29 for distributing offer letters to newly appointed teachers. Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh was to be the chief guest. In addition, he was to inaugurate Soni’s newly constructed hotel. The entire city was “defaced” with hoardings welcoming the CM, but he cancelled his visit. The cancellation was seen as embarrassment for the minister. Though it was claimed that Amarinder had to cancel his visit at the last moment due to bad weather, the news that Captain would not come was known to the media a day in advance. The minister had to do the honours in the end.

Ashu’s faith call

Punjab food and civil supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, a follower of Lord Shiva, is on pilgrimage to Amarnath Temple in Jammu and Kashmir. He is accompanied by Ludhiana (East) MLA Sanjay Talwar, Payal MLA Lakhvir Singh Lakha and Ludhiana Mayor Balkar Singh. It’s a thanksgiving trip for the quartet with Ashu, who was inducted into the state cabinet in April, being the most “blessed”. The group was stuck because the pilgrimage was suspended on Saturday for one day due to bad weather.

Manpreet tickles funny bone

Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who is usually composed, was at his humorous best last week. As most members of the state cabinet waited patiently for chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh at a function held in Chandigarh to handover compensation cheques to Jodhpur detenues, Manpreet joined a group of journalists. Narrating a story on how Punjabis coin local names for electronic gadgets. “An automatic gadget that switches on and off agriculture tubewells has been named as ‘Bhaiya’ because earlier a ‘Bhaiya’ used to perform the duty,” he said sending all those present into splits.

AAP’s studious MLA

Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Bathinda (rural) Rupinder Kaur Ruby has taken out her books from the study shelf to pursue PhD in law from Punjabi University, Patiala. The MLA had cleared the UGC’s NET exam twice after LLM (Master of law) before she entered politics. “Politics will remain my priority, but I want to do PhD,” she tells her visitors. The MLA has already submitted the synopsis of her thesis. Had she not got the AAP ticket and won her seat in the assembly elections last year, Ruby would have finished her thesis by now.

The real ‘naari shakti’ on display!

Woman power in the Haryana Congress was on display on the occasion of the launch of an online interface, Shakti, between members of Mahila Congress and party president Rahul Gandhi last week. When the event was on, a scramble took place outside the party office hall. Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar, who was addressing media persons along with Mahila Congress state president Sumitra Chauhan, was told that some women leaders wanted to be in while party workers were trying to dissuade them. Tanwar and Chauhan had to repeatedly request the vociferous women leaders to wait for some time, telling them that it was a press conference, not the party function.

Dhumal’s bungalow goes to his loyalist Kanwar

Kristen Hall – a British-era government bungalow on a lateral road connecting the chief minister’s official residence, Oak Over, and Himachal Pradesh Secretariat — was among the hubs of political activity during the last five years being the official residence of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. After he lost to onetime protégé Rajender Rana in the assembly election from Sujanpur, Dhumal vacated the bungalow in April-end. Power minister Anil Sharma and rural development minister Virender Kanwar jockeyed hard for the bungalow. However, Dhumal’s bungalow has been allotted to his staunch loyalist, Virender Kanwar.

Bali’s close aide in Sudhir camp

Two Congress leaders from Kangra, GS Bali and Sudhir Sharma, have never had cordial relations. Always trying to undermine each other, the two sparred on many occasions when they were ministers in the previous governments. Last month, Bali skipped a party event organised by Sharma and presided over by former chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Sharma has now poached Bali’s closest aide. Himachal Congress secretary Manoj Mehta, who was once Bali’s right-hand man, was seen walking hand in hand with Sharma at a private function. Party men see this as Sharma’s revenge on Bali who had turned many members of Dharamshala Congress against him. “Fireworks just before the Lok Sabha polls will affect Congress’ prospects in Kangra,” they say.

(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Surjit Singh, Prabhjit Singh, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh K Thakur)

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