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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Regional buzz: From AAP crisis to Chandumajras’s Hindi hiccups

Team HT keeps tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh

punjab Updated: Jul 30, 2018 12:38 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
(Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu)

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

AAP — a party in trouble

Blame it on poor diagnosis or inability to swallow bitter political realities. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has not been a pleasant experience for many doctors who had joined the party born out of anti-corruption crusade on its national convener Arvind Kejriwal’s call. Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, Dr Balbir Singh, Dr Daljit Singh, Dr Amarjit Singh Thind and Dr Ranjodh Singh Sran were a few among the medical professionals who took the plunge. Barring state unit co-president Dr Balbir, others are either out of favour or have fallen out with the party leadership. While Patiala MP Dr Gandhi was suspended for “anti-party activities” three years ago for speaking against the “domineering” leadership, eye surgeon Dr Daljit, who had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections against present chief minister Amarinder Singh in Amritsar, had joined Congress in January 2017 after falling out with the AAP’s top brass. He passed away last December. Dr Thind, the party candidate in Shahkot in the 2017 assembly elections, also hopped to Congress before the byelection in the constituency this year. Dr Balbir, who is at the helm as the central leadership’s man, is currently locked in an ugly spat with former leader of opposition and Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira. All symptoms of a party in trouble!

Chandumajras’s Hindi hiccups

Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra’s Hindi has been a cause of amusement for other members of Lok Sabha. Delivering his speech in Hindi with a heavy Punjabi accent, the MP used words and idioms such as cheechi (little finger) and baldi dey boothey ch agg (meaning adding fuel to fire), drawing smiles from other members. One of the few MPs of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), he needs to brush up his Hindi to reach a larger audience.

The burden of addl charge

Punjab government routinely gives additional charge of departments and public sector undertakings to IAS officers due to shortage or to favour chosen ones. But how much time many of them are able to devote remains an issue. At least that was the indication from two bureaucrats last week. When a reporter of this newspaper met 2002-batch IAS officer Baldeo Purushartha, who holds charge of secretary, governance reforms in addition to his substantive assignment of secretary, expenditure, to ask about the abolition of the Right to Service Commission and the new legislation, he did not have much to say. “It is an additional charge. I don’t know much,” he said before telling the journalist to speak to additional chief secretary, home and governance reforms. Another IAS officer Indu Malhotra, who is managing director, Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation and Punjab Financial Corporation, with additional charge as special secretary, NRI affairs, and commissioner, NRI affairs, also had a similar response, saying she does not know much about issues related to NRIs as he assumed only recently. Did they say governance reforms?

Drug battle: Doc vs doc

Days after Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, a doctor-turned-politician, advocated legalising opium, Akali spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema, who also studied medicine before joining politics, has disagreed with him, saying that drug addicts should not be dragged into vote-bank politics. “Why offer an alternative to addicts? Make efforts to bring them out of addiction medically and opium is no alternative of drugs,” he said, reacting to Dr Gandhi’s suggestion and support to it from Akali leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Now that’s doctor versus doctor.

Message in the medium

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has been laying emphasis on English teaching in schools to empower students to meet global communication needs. A welcome idea for keeping up with the times, but the school education department’s public relations team does not seem to have got the message. The department’s press notes are mostly sent in Punjabi to English media, unlike other government departments and organisations that release important statements and information in three languages – Punjabi, Hindi and English. Though there have been repeated requests from journalists at various level, not much appears to have changed.

Sarkaria, Sodhi & their bungalow blues

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s two cabinet colleagues, revenue minister Sukhbinder Sarkaria and sports minister Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, are yet to shift to the official ministerial bungalows allotted to them in Sector 39, Chandigarh. Both ministers want bigger houses in posh sectors where senior ministers stay. Sodhi even approached Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore, who is also Chandigarh administrator, with a request to allot him a kothi from the Union Territory quota. His request was rejected. Official accommodation in Sector 39 is below the standard of these ministers!

Solanki’s salvos leave cops red-faced

They all came dressed immaculately hoping to hear only good things about the state police and themselves. After all it was a day when President’s police medals were to be awarded to 96 police officers and personnel. However, Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki had other plans. Solanki who addressed the cops at the investiture ceremony earlier this week minced no words to tell over two dozen IPS officers and about 100 other ranks that state police has become known for inaction. He was apparently referring to the shoddy work it did during the 2016 Jat quota agitation and last year’s violence when Dera Sacha Sauda chief was convicted by a CBI court. Solanki also spoke critically about its people unfriendly image and even quoted a messed up crime investigation. For the police top brass, the cutting remarks came as a bolt from the blue and left many a red faces.

When Mahila Cong chief was cornered

All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev submitted a memorandum to Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Sokanki last week against increasing crime against women in the state with the Morni hills gang rape case in the backdrop. Dev, who later interacted with newspersons, was asked as to why no woman MLA of the Congress was with her. “Such questions miss the point. It is only because the party is serious on the issue that I am here,” said the MP from Silchar (Assam) curtly. However, the Mahila Congress leaders from Haryana were present in full force, outnumbering the scribes in the conference hall.

Hefty travel bills: Hooda takes dig at BJP ministers

Former CM Bhupinder Hooda recently took a dig at the BJP government over its rising fuel expenses with some of its ministers travelling up to 700 kilometres a day. Cracking a joke in Haryanvi, Hooda left all reporters in splits when he compared the government to a monkey who was made the king of the jungle and was tasked to save other animals from the attacks of lion. All that the monkey could do was make futile attempts at running from tree to tree and the animals were eaten up by the lion before the monkey could reach for their help. “The same is with the BJP. They have left no stone unturned in running from district to district across Haryana. But they are not able to do anything for the public and only end up wasting fuel,” he said, conveniently forgetting his own days in power

List leak hurts Jai Ram govt

Himachal Pradesh BJP leaders are striving hard for political posts in the government, but chief minister Jai Ram Thakur is being extra cautious after appointing a few of his favourites in haste. A list of leaders eyeing government positions went viral on social networking sites, raising hackles of the party leadership in the state. Among the prominent leaders named in the list was state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti who was said to be among the front-runners for the post of chairman of the 20-point programme committee with cabinet rank. He has been lobbying for the post for quite some time. The party has launched a probe into the leak.

Bharti buries hatchet with Bali

In politics, there are no permanent friends or foes. Former MLA Neeraj Bharti, who was involved in a bitter war of words with ex-minister GS Bali and his supporters, seems to have mended fences with the latter. Bharti, who suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome, was seen at Bali’s birthday bash. To the delight of audience,

Bharti danced his heart out. He indicated that the rift between Bali and him was created by a Kangra leader to serve his “personal interests” and vowed to expose him at appropriate time. While the rival camp is shocked, people have already started guessing, who will be Bharti’s next target on social media.

(Contributed by Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Ravinder Vasudeva, Hitender Rao, Rajesh Moudgil, Hardik Anand, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 12:38 IST

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