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Regional buzz: From Mehbooba’s guest list to the Punjab poll menu

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

punjab Updated: Apr 04, 2016 11:22 IST
Hindustan Times
Regional buzz,Mehbooba Mufti,Omar Abdullah

Catchy taglines spice up Punjab poll curry

Punjab assembly polls are still several months away, but creative taglines usually used in campaign have started making news. Taking a cue from ‘chai pe charcha’, Punjab Congress has come up with a campaign called ‘Coffee with Captain’. The events have Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh meeting youngsters over coffee. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Badal, who is also deputy chief minister, immediately countered it by taking a dig at the former chief minister. “When it comes to Amarinder, it should be ‘whisky with Amarinder’, and not Coffee with Captain,” he said. What should one expect in the days to come? ‘In soup with Sukhbir’ or ‘Bhangra with Bhagwant (Mann)’, someone suggested.

AAP slams brakes on poaching, for now

After welcoming some party-hoppers, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has given verbal instructions to its leaders in Punjab not to talk to netas wanting to join the party, indicating that poaching from other parties has been put on hold for now. A number of leaders from established parties have been looking at AAP, which has emerged as a strong contender, to secure their political future, but they are now feeling frustrated. Their talks with AAP leaders are not progressing. These leaders are chasing party leaders Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Sanjay Singh, but without success. Why the sudden change in tactic? The feedback, according to AAP leaders, from party supporters is the reason. “People have been telling us that they want to get rid of such leaders. By making them switch sides, AAP is imposing the same lot they want to get rid of,” they added.

Omar on Mehbooba’s guest list

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister-designate Mehbooba Mufti has tried to break the ice with her “supposed” bête noire Omar Abdullah by personally inviting him to her oath ceremony on Monday. Omar termed her invite as a “gracious” gesture and promised to attend the ceremony. A good beginning considering that the two leaders have been critical of each other. In the last 2-3 months, Omar had posted stinging tweets not only about the PDP-BJP alliance, but also the delay in government formation. The move by Mehbooba Mufti is being seen as an attempt to bridge the divide with Omar, at least in her initial phase. Mehbooba has never held any ministerial berth. Being someone who would be holding an official position for the first time, and that too, when the two regions are politically and ideologically at odds with each other, she won’t want the rivals go after her from the word go.

Being wooed, claims Kant

Retired IPS officer Shashi Kant recently announced on WhatsApp that he had got an invite to join a political party to which he was close ideologically. “They wanted me to join for ‘Punjab 2017’ (polls), provided I refrain from taking up any issue on my own,” he posted, adding that he just laughed off the proposal. Though he did not name the party in his WhatsApp message, the former Punjab officer was quick to verbally share that he was referring to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Shashi Kant seems to keen to play an active role in the coming polls, but on his own terms.

AAP’s love for journos

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is trying its best to woo journalists and make them a part of their cause. Some journalists were taken to a well-known mall in Chandigarh and shown Punjabi film ‘Ardaas’ the other day. AAP MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Maan and actor-comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi, who joined the party two months ago, accompanied the journalists. All was well till the film got over and Bhagwant Maan thought it was the right opportunity to give the scribes a lecture on Punjab and its sad state due to SAD’s rule. The tearjerker movie followed by the Bhagwant Mann speech had some journalists who were a part of the “film-picnic” wishing why they did not come to watch the film on their own.

JP’s Haryanvi style floors all

Jai Prakash (popularly called ‘JP’), Independent MLA from Kalayat, has a typical Haryanvi rustic manner of speaking. The former minister had the MLAs in splits during the recently-concluded budget session of the state assembly. JP started narrating the difficulties being faced by drivers and other staff members of the legislators attending the session while sitting in their vehicles for the entire day throughout the session. “There are no facilities for them. There is no drinking water or sheds so that they sit in shade or even urinals,” the Independent MLA said in chaste Haryanvi.

Witty Virbhadra takes on BJP legislators

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh may be under intense attack within and outside the state assembly, but his sense of humour is intact. When BJP legislators led by leader of opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal trooped into the well of the House, they were shouting slogans such as “Chakkar hai bhai chakkar hai, CBI ka chakkar hai” alluding to raids carried out bby the agency at the chief minister’s residences. Amid pandemonium, Virbhadra, who has been the target of BJP’s allegations, got up. “CBI ka nahin, yeh Enforcement Directorate (ED) ka chakkar hai (It’s not about CBI, but ED),” he said, correcting the slogan-shouting MLAs.

Power meeting turns out to be routine affair

When Congress central leaders called the party leaders from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi for a meeting last week, it fuelled speculations about a leadership change in the state, particularly in wake of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) proceedings against chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Virbhadra and public health minister Vidya Stokes left for Delhi in the state helicopter on Friday immediately after the assembly proceedings got over. Transport minister GS Bali, health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and some others preferred to travel in their own private vehicles, showing that all is not well in the government. The party leadership, however, only took stock of the political situation in the state, dashing hopes of those looking for straws in the wind that a change was likely.

(Contributed by Chitleen K Sethi, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Prabhjit Singh, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Tarun Upadhyay)

First Published: Apr 04, 2016 11:21 IST