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Regional buzz | Dedicated cycle track for Bathinda IG, man who ‘extinguished Jat fire’, and more

Keeping tab on power, politics in Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh

punjab Updated: Aug 14, 2017 12:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Amarinder Singh,Punjab news,Virbhadra Singh
Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu

Missing CM, and the empty chair

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh keeps shuttling between Chandigarh and Delhi. But he has not been travelling frequently, to put it mildly, to the districts and interiors of the state, drawing flak from leaders of opposition parties. Last week, Capt Amarinder decided to address his party’s political conference during the Rakhar Punia mela at Baba Bakala – the first major political gathering in the Majha region – in Amritsar. As the party leaders and supporters assembled, everyone eagerly waited for the chief minister. A chair was also kept for him on the dais. Then, an announcement was made that Capt Amarinder could not make it to the public meeting due to bad weather. The chair was kept empty throughout the event. If this was done deliberately is not known, but the “empty chair” served as a constant reminder of his absence, given the criticism. The CM did travel to Mansa later in the week to take stock of damage done by whitefly to cotton crop in the area however.

Dedicated track for ‘pedal pusher’ Bathinda IG

Bathinda inspector general (IG) MS Chhina was in the dock last week for getting the local police to barricade a public road near his official residence every morning for his passion for cycling. The local TV channels got whiff of his morning cycle rides and aired a story showing how the Civil Lines road was converted into a “barricaded cycle track” for him for two hours daily. Pushed on the back foot, the IG tried to put up a brave face. Chhina claimed he intended to clean the roads and turn the area into green belt for which the barricading was done. The barricades were finally removed but only after much embarrassment to the top cop.

Stunned detractors of DGP Arora

Punjab director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora’s detractors in the state police are stunned. The reason: the recent reshuffle in which the DGP’s favourites are back on key posts. The changes are a setback to these “top guns” who have been claiming to have the ear of chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. After the transfers, they are trying to corner Arora by alleging that the officials – Hardeep Dhillon, MK Tiwari and Gaurav Yadav – whom Arora has brought back in key positions were at the helm of affairs during the SAD rule as well. With Arora also a SAD pick for the state DGP’s post, they say the Akalis’ team in police is again ruling the police headquarters.

Kler & his Akali affinity

Patiala-based lawyer Satnam Singh Kler, who was made chairman of Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) by the previous Akali government, has his own website, Kler Law Offices. The website mentions Kler as a “laurelled lawyer” and has his pictures with the who’s who of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). He attends press meets and other events of the opposition party. Last week, the SGJC chairman was present at the press conference held by party MLAs in Chandigarh. He is expected to give judgments related to the Sikh matters coming to the commission, rising above party lines.

Meet the man who ‘extinguished Jat fire’

Former Lok Dal MLA Roshan Lal Arya, who is opposed to reservations for Jats in government jobs and educational institutions, thinks he is a “fire brigade”. In Chandigarh last week to announce his Haryana Sarvjan Party’s state-level rally in Jind on October 1, Arya said he was the one who “extinguished fire” during the quota stir last year. Claiming that he was not against Jats, Arya, who also faced a police case for his alleged hate speech last year, said his struggle was only for equal opportunities and representation to all the communities, as per the Constitution. “People like Yashpal Malik (a Jat leader) were igniting caste fire but police registered cases against a person like me who was trying to douse it like a fire brigade,” he said it repeatedly.

Virbhadra’s damage control

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh acts like a loose cannon sometimes and then gets into damage control. After his derogatory remarks against the Gaddi community stoked a fresh controversy, the CM has been trying to assuage their feelings. He has increased the strength of members of the Gaddi Kalyan Board from 34 to 75, inducting more people, mostly his supporters, from the community to check the political damage. The reason: BJP state president Satpal Satti belongs to the community that has substantial a vote bank in Chamba and Kangra districts.

Picture gaffe stumps Kapoor

After the CM’s controversial remark on Gaddi community snowballed into a major controversy, former BJP minister Kishan Kapoor tried to make the most of it. But it did not work. Kapoor, who belongs to the semi-nomadic community, was in the forefront of protests in Dharamshala. The situation turned tense when the police cane-charged the protesters. Nine persons, who were injured, were treated at the local hospital. That’s where Kapoor committed a mistake. The BJP leader and his supporters staged a “dharna” in the hospital complex shouting slogans. Then, Kapoor posted pictures online in which he, with a broad smile on his face, was wiping off the blood from the forehead of a protestor who was injured in clash with police. The social media took no time to push Kapoor on receiving end.

Proud of his Modi link

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leader Ganesh Dutt is ecstatic these days. After a gap of 34 years, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regained control of the Shimla municipal corporation and a delegation of newly elected party councillors led by mayor Kusum Sadret and deputy mayor Rakesh Kumar went to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to request him to sanction the World Bank-aided Rs 720-crore Greater Shimla Water and Sewerage Circle Scheme. BJP senior leader Ganesh Dutt also accompanied them. And it turned out a happy moment for Ganesh as Modi recalled the time he spent in Shimla and inquired about the wellbeing of his wife and daughters.

In poll year, HP CM on inauguration spree

Political leaders going on inauguration spree in an election year is not something usual. Keeping up the tradition, chief minister Virbhadra Singh is reaching every nook and corner of the state to unveil inauguration plaques. During his recent tour to Dharamshala, he opened a war museum with flourish. However, people, who went to the museum the next day to get glimpse of India’s legacy and heritage, returned disappointed. The doors of the museum were closed for visitors. The reason: the project is incomplete and construction work still going on.

(Contributed by Aseem Bassi, Prabhjit Singh, Ravinder Vasudeva, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 11:54 IST