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Regional buzz: From Dhankar’s shirt-tearing act to the Amarinder-Sampla credit war

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal is the one who usually addresses the media after the cabinet meetings, but he stayed away from the briefing last week.

punjab Updated: Feb 19, 2018 13:33 IST
Team HT
Team HT
Hindustan Times
Dhankar,shirt-tearing act,Amarinder-Sampla
Haryana agriculture minister OP Dhankar left the public and media persons confused with his bizarre statement during BJP chief Amit Shah’s rally in Jind. (Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)

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

Dhankar’s shirt-tearing act

Haryana agriculture minister OP Dhankar left the public and media persons confused with his bizarre statement during BJP chief Amit Shah’s rally in Jind. Dhankar while addressing the gathering compared himself to Bollywood actor Salman Khan, saying that he too used to tear his “kurta” like Salman over farmers’ issues when he was in the opposition. “The difference is when Salman tears open his shirt his film earns Rs 100 crore. When I tore my kurta, Haryana got Rs 3,400 crore under the BJP for disbursal among farmers in compensation. This means my kurta is much costlier than Salman’s shirt,” claimed the minister. But the message wasn’t clear, as several people, including journalists, were seen asking each other what Dhankar had just said. Lesson from the story: Whenever Khattar government needs funds it should just get the minister to tear off his kurta!

Capt, Sampla in credit war

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and BJP’s state unit president Vijay Sampla took credit for visa extension granted by the Union ministry of external affairs to 142 Hindu pilgrims from Pakistan, allowing them to travel to Haridwar. The pilgrims, who were stranded at Durgiana Temple serai in Amritsar, wanted to visit Hindu shrines, including Haridwar, but did not have permission. When they asked for visa extension, a BJP youth wing leader assured them that Sampla has taken up the matter with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. When the ministry gave no objection, Sampla posted a tweet on Friday expressing gratitude to Swaraj for entertaining his request. Within 10 minutes, the CM also took to twitter to thank the minister. Amarinder thanked Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka for helping in this by pursuing the matter vigorously with the ministry “on my request”. The Pakistani pilgrims responded with joy, irrespective of who got it done.

‘No point in flogging dead horse’

Watching Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira go after his bête noire Rana Gurjit Singh, who was power and irrigation minister in the Congress government in Punjab, in press conference after press conference on the issue of irregularities in sand mining auctions, everyone expected him to jump with joy on learning about the searches conducted on the offices of various companies owned by the businessman-turned-politician’s family. But Khaira, leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly, took the journalists present at his press conference on Friday by surprise. He had called them to give his party’s reaction on Amarinder and his ministers’ decision to pay their own income tax. When asked about the I-T searches, he played them down. “There is no point in flogging a dead horse,” said the AAP leader with a straight face, keeping focus on the matter at hand. Why give free publicity to an adversary after knocking him down! Rana Gurjit, who was under constant fire, had quit Captain’s cabinet last month.

Govt’s tactical move

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal is the one who usually addresses the media after the cabinet meetings, but he stayed away from the briefing last week. A tactical move in all probability, as his brother-in-law Jaijeet Singh Johal’s (popularly known as Jojo) name had come up in the cabinet meeting in connection with “goonda tax” being recovered from contractors carrying out construction inside the oil refinery in Bathinda. Manpreet said his name was vilified without reason. In his place, local bodies minister Navjiot Singh Sidhu and the chief minister’s media adviser Raveen Thukral were sent for the media briefing on cabinet decisions.

Badal’s dig at Channi

Former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal speaks less these days, but does not let go of any opportunity to go after political opponents. Taking a dig at technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi for flipping a coin to decide the posting of two newly appointed lecturers, Badal said that Channi was not capable of taking the decision himself. “The employees whose posting has been decided by tossing the coin may also try the same while performing their duties,” he remarked.

Manpreet at his witty best

Manpreet Singh Badal has a way with words. During his interaction with traders in Bathinda’s AC (Air Conditioned) Market on Friday, the minister was requested by shop-owners to ensure that the centralised air-conditioning system in the market is made functional. Manpreet immediately phoned deputy commissioner to tell him to get the AC system started and then turned to traders to tell to use only “good quality AC” to reduce power consumption. “You must have a heard an advertisement on Pakistan Radio that says ‘varton pehno sabun 707, mail vi kadde te khure vi ghat’ (Sisters, use soap 707 for washing clothes as it cleanses clothes without much erosion),” he said, leaving them in splits.

A modest marriage ceremony

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislature from Bhadaur constituency, Pirmal Singh, set an example by keeping his wedding a simple affair. Though none of his party colleagues, including MPs and MLAs, got a whiff, he did not forget to invite his old friends and members of the Punjab Unemployed Linemen Union. The modest marriage ceremony is the talk of the town.

Bike rally completion

BJP national president Amit Shah’s show of strength in Jind seems to have triggered ‘bike rally’ competition in the state. Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar, while calling the BJP rally in which bikers travelled from across the state a “flop show”, announced his event. “I will hold a motorcycle rally at the same ground in Jind soon and show what a motorcycle rally actually is,” said the former MP. Tanwar is presently preparing for his cycle rally beginning March 5. What is going to be closely watched in political circles is how many of his party MLAs and other bigwigs will turn up at the event. His track record has been not too good on that count!

Rebel by nature

By staying away from Amit Shah’s Jind rally, BJP MP from Kurukshetra Rajkumar Saini conveyed his resentment at the way he was treated. Saini said the party leaders did not invite him like other MPs and MLAs, who were given the task of mobilising workers, and he got the invitation at the eleventh hour. “Na woh mujhe bulana chahte the aur na hi main jana chahta tha. Achcha hua ki ek din pehle invitation mila. Unki bhi ijjat rah gayi or meri bhi,” he said.

Kaul Singh’s barbs at MP

Himachal Congress leader Kaul Singh Thakur lost the election, but not his wit. He continues to throw barbs at his rivals. His latest target was Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma. Thakur, while asking for details of works done by the MP in the last four years, said: “Jeet to gaye Ram Swaroop, par janta ko kya mila falswaroop” (Ram Swroop may have won but what the public has got as a result). He did not stop there, claiming that Mandi MP has gone missing and the Congress would launch a search campaign to find him. With the Lok Sabha election just a year away, barbs will fly thick and fast in the coming few months. Watch this space for the MP’s response.

(Contributed by Surjit Singh, Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Sachin Sharma, Sarbmeet Singh, Rajesh Moudgil, Hardik Anand, Neeraj Mohan and Naresh K Thakur)

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 13:33 IST