Regional Buzz: From Capt Amarinder’s parties, Khaira’s media games to Jab Sidhu met Jaitley
Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Hiamchal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.punjab Updated: Jan 01, 2018 14:05 IST
Capt’s parties create a buzz
Over nine months in power, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s work has yet to create a buzz. But his parties are. A video of his friend from Pakistan, Aroosa Alam, raising a toast to Congress MLA Rana Gurmeet Sodhi at a private party, went viral last week. The CM, too, is seen sitting next to Aroosa. Leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira was quick to lap up the opportunity to write to Congress president Rahul Gandhi about the “impropriety”. But the talk in Congress circles is about who leaked the video and why did CM’s security not take note of its making. We hear now on, mobile phones will not be allowed at private dos attended by CM!
Mann’s Sukhbir bashing goes on
It seems SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal continues to be the main rival for Punjab Aam Aadmi Party president Bhagwant Mann. After a poor show and reports of rigging by the ruling Congress in municipal polls, Mann was busy taking digs at Sukhbir, not the Congress. “He (Sukhbir) had sought paramilitary forces to guard mohalla (civic body) elections. Will he ask for tanks and rockets for smooth conduct of Parliament and assembly polls,” he said. On AAP’s rout though, the actor-comedian ran out of words.
Not much in FM Manpreet’s kitty
When it comes to money matters, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal has no good news for the New Year. Nor in the ones to follow. Briefing the media after last week’s cabinet meeting, he predicted more years of fiscal constraint. “The Centre has not agreed to increase state’s borrowing limit. After three years we hope to be at ease,” he said. After all, he will have to loosen the purse strings before state elections.
Jab Sidhu met Jaitley
This ‘guru-chela’ relationship continues, cutting across party lines. Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu met his ‘political guru’ --- Union finance minister Arun Jaitley --- on Thursday after almost a year. Sidhu, who left the BJP to join the Congress, described the ‘milan’ with flourish. “I bowed down to touch his feet and he hugged me warmly,” Sidhu said. He sought funds for different projects and got an appointment in no time. Jaitley not only assured him funds but also put in a word to union tourism and housing ministers, AJ Alphons and Hardeep Singh Puri, to help Sidhu.
Takht jathedar in Chadha’s Dubai bash
Former Chief Khalsa Diwan president Charanjit Singh Chadha is learnt to have held a lavish wedding reception for his grandson at Dubai. And among those in attendance were Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, who is being accused of going soft on Chadha after his video with a woman principal has gone viral. Though the jathedar has summoned Chadha, no meeting of Sikh clergy before whom he is to appear has been scheduled yet. Chadha felicitated the jathedar at the reception ceremony. He also enjoyed proximity with former CM Parkash Singh Badal too.
Khaira’s media games
Too many press conferences are not getting him print space. So leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira has started giving scoops to journalists. Khaira called up scribes last week to tell them that he has discovered the money transfer link between irrigation scam accused Gurinder Singh and aides of his bete noire, minister Rana Gurjit Singh, who had bid for sand mines in the May auction. “I am thinking whether to hold a press conference or give it to a newspaper,” he said. But later added, “I will make the disclosure at a press conference on January 2.” But two days later, Khaira’s scoop was out in a newspaper and the AAP leader released a press statement seeking Rana’s dismissal. Forgoing credit must have been hard for Khaira who loves publicity.
Cong’s haves and have-nots
Out of power, Congressmen in Haryana are passing time taking digs not at the ruling BJP but party’s warring factions. When a worker was anxious about a party functionary’s car parked outside the Congress office in Chandigarh since past many weeks with deflated tyres, a leader owing allegiance to Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar camp quipped, “This shows how bad is the party’s financial health in Haryana as no MLA gives any funds to the party.” The gathering burst out in laughter as most of the 17 MLAs belong to former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s camp and they have not made any contribution to the party of late.
Haryana babus eying central posts
Come 2018 and a number of Haryana IAS officers will be looking for avenues in the central government. While principal secretary-rank officer Sumita Misra Singh was recently deputation in the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, additional chief secretary rank officer, P Raghvendra Rao, presently holding the charge of finance department is likely to be next in the line for central posting. There are speculations that a number of officers holding the charge of head of departments or joint secretaries too are rooting for central deputations.
First jeans-clad HP CM
Jai Ram Thakur, 52, is one of the youngest chief minister to take over the reins of the state. Week after being sworn in, Thakur on Sunday stepped into the ‘ jinxed’ Oakover — the official residence of the chief minister — wearing an Indigo blue jeans and a black winter jacket. Also, he was seen sporting a Himachali cap, something that he doesn’t wear often.
(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Sukhdeep Kaur, Surjit Singh, Hitender Rao, Rajesh Moudgil and Gaurav Bisht)