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Regional buzz: From Majha Express to Haryana DGP’s US visit

From Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa’s firm belief that loyalty pays, to a disappointed Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, here is a round up of everything that is ‘happening’ in the region:

punjab Updated: Apr 30, 2018 13:35 IST
Team HT
Team HT
Hindustan Times
Majha Express,Haryana DG,Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa
Majha leaders Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Harpartap Singh Ajnala used to travel together in a car, building support for Amarinder, and were called the ‘Majha Express’. (Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu )

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

‘Majha Express’: Loyalty pays

Majha leaders Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria are ministers in the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab. The trio, along with Ajanala MLA Harpartap Singh Ajnala, had stood by Amarinder during their days in opposition, launching a tirade against the then Congress state president Partap Singh Bajwa. They used to travel together in a car, building support for Amarinder, and were called the ‘Majha Express’. “He (Amarinder) has not forgotten us. Three of us have got a key role in the government. Now, it is the turn of Ajnala. I am sure he, too, will get a prominent role,” said Bajwa. Loyalty pays!

Cabinet expansion leaves no vacancy

The cabinet expansion has disappointed not just the MLAs who have been left out, but also some former legislators and senior Congress leaders who were eyeing a berth via the Shahkot assembly seat where the byelection will be held next month. Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has completed his team of ministers and there is no vacany now. Though disappointed, several ex-MLAs from Malwa, including Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, are said to be trying for the party ticket for the seat that fell vacant following the death of SAD leader Ajit Singh Kohar in February this year.

‘Serving the people’

Congress leader Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was appointed chairperson of Punjab Warehousing Corporation last week, had a piece of advice for party workers. “Why need a post or a chair? It’s your government, do work wherever they want,” said former chief parliamentary secretary while receiving felicitations from supporters in a room in Local Bodies Bhawan in Chandigarh. Her husband, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, was sitting in an adjacent room. On being asked about discomfiture among the Congress MLAs and leaders over her appointment, Navjot Kaur said she and her husband wanted to serve people of Punjab. Both Navjot Kaur and her husband had switched sides from the BJP to the Congress just days before the state assembly polls. Needless to say, the switch was to continue “serving the people”.

‘Sab to changi Indian women’

During his visit to Ludhiana for the change of guard ceremony of FICCI’s Ladies Organisation (FLO), actor Kabir Bedi was at his candid best. He delighted the women present when he declared that Indian women are the best. “Sab to changi Indian women,” he said in Punjabi. The actor went on to say that while he has been married more than a couple of times including that to a British-born woman and is lucky to still be friends with all his exes, he always found the Indian women to be the most beautiful. He was present with his wife Parveen Dusanj, who is a UK citizen and has roots in Jalandhar’s Jandiala village. “All my exes remain the best of friends and I have learnt a lot over the years, I have been fortunate to be always lucky in love,” he said.

Amusing condition on DGP’s US visit

Haryana’s additional chief secretary, home, SS Prasad is known to be a bard. However, his skills on the file leave many chortling or fuming. On April 20, Prasad issued an order granting permission to director general of police BS Sandhu to visit United States to attend a wedding. The amusing part of Prasad’s order was a condition for the foreign visit – “the DGP does not figure adversely on the security records of the state.” The condition left many amused while some were fretting. “Why would the state appoint an officer as the head of the state police if he figures adversely on the security records of the state. This condition is quite ridiculous,’’ said police officers.

An apponitment that raised eyebrows

The posting of Haryana IAS officer Ankur Gupta as principal secretary, electronics and information technology, has raised eyebrows. An inquiry conducted by the vigilance bureau (VB) when Gupta was managing director, Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation (HARTRON) had in 2013 blamed him for exercising due diligence in selection of system integrator for the supply, installation and management of outdoor surveillance system for the police department. The inquiry report had castigated Gupta stating he should have been more careful, especially when the principal secretary, information technology, had asked him to examine various aspects related to the bidding and selection process. He also did not act on a complaint forwarded by the principal secretary, IT, in this regard and sat on it after writing ‘seen’. The VB found that an Indian company, LevelOne Communications, had used the name of a purported Germany-based company, LevelOne Communications, fraudulently to win the bid for the project. The BJP government in Haryana seems to have given Gupta opportunity to probably redeem himself.

Musical chairs

The frequent shifting of the additional chief secretary of health and family welfare department in Haryana has become a talking point in the corridors of power. Roop Ram Jowel, a 1986-batch IAS officer, was again brought back to the department a few days ago. The department, which has the irrepressible Anil Vij as minister, has seen at least six ACS-rank officers during the three-and-half years of the BJP government, including PK Mahapatra, Ram Niwas and Amit Jha. Is all well?

Clearing files during air travel

A buzz doing the rounds in political circles in Himachal Pradesh recently was that important files were piling at chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s office and even influential party leaders were finding it hard to get the important ones cleared. When the chief minister’s close aides heard this, they were alarmed and tried to find out the reason. What they got to know was that these files never reached the CM’s office due to bureaucratic negligence. The files were immediately sent to the CM’s office. Since Thakur was overburdened, these were loaded in his helicopter. He signed these files while flying from Shimla to Delhi and back.

Shanta ‘fed up’ of transfer requests

Government employees seeking transfers to places of their choice has alway been a headache for successive governments in Himachal. During a party event in Palampur recently, BJP’s veteran leader and Kangra MP Shanta Kumar said people from far-off places meet him not for developmental works but with transfer requests. “I am now fed up. I can imagine the situation at the government level. People should not flood the government with petty demands like transfers,” he said. These things, according to him, affect the performance and slowdown the pace of development. Not that his sane advice has had much impact. It is transfer season and the corridors of power are buzzing with those seeking transfers.

Sulking Lal Singh targets CM

There are no permanent friends and foes in politics. And it is evident in the politically surcharged landscape of Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of Kathua incident. BJP leader Choudhary Lal Singh, who, along with his party colleague Chander Parkash Ganga, had to quit the state cabinet following uproar against their support to a Hindu Ekta Manch rally, is now all fired up against chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. The duo said they had gone to the rally on state BJP president Sat Sharma’s instructions. “If we resigned on moral grounds after a false perception that we rallied behind the accused was created, Mehbooba Mufti should not remain the CM. She holds the home portfolio and the state police failed to trace the girl for a week,” he said. Singh is holding rallies to garner public support for a CBI probe, but Ganga has been lying low. Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh had also on more than one occasion endorsed the demand for invesgation by the central agency. He has gone silent after the two ministers resigned.

(Contributed by Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Sarbmeet Singh, Aneesha Sareen Kumar, Hitender Rao, Rajesh Moudgil, Naresh K Thakur and Ravi K Khajuria)