Regional buzz: From Phoolka the peacemaker’s guessing game to its show time for Bajwa
The logic of political parties works in strange ways. Take the Congress strategy for the assembly proceedings this week when the controversial report of the Ranjit Singh Commission on the sacrilege incidents will be tabled in the House.punjab Updated: Aug 27, 2018 11:09 IST
Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K:
Phoolka the peacemaker keeps everyone guessing
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Harvinder Singh Phoolka is not your typical politician. A legal eagle, Phoolka, famous for his constant fight for justice for victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, has kept his party colleagues guessing about his political moves. The Dakha MLA, in his own words, is “on leave” from the party to concentrate on riot cases and actively pursues innovative activities for improvement in education and health in his constituency. Though the former leader of opposition (LOP) has not been seen at most party meetings and events in the last one year, he surfaces each time a crisis erupts in the infighting-ridden party, flitting across camps with ease. In the ongoing feud between those loyal to Delhi leadership and the Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira-led rebel camp also, the former leader of opposition has been acting as the “peacemaker”. He went with three party MLAs to Khaira’s house on Friday with a peace offer, but then joined the rebel camp’s dharna outside the state assembly later. Both new LOP Harpal singh Cheema and Khaira, who don’t see eye to eye, claim he is with them.
Its show time for Bajwa
Punjab rural development and panchayats minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa recently released a grant to local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for development of his native village (Kakrala) in Sangrur. Bajwa, who is not on very good terms with Sidhu, made sure a brief ceremony was a held at a common place (Punjab Bhawan) in Chandigarh and picture clicked. He handed over a cheque of Rs 54.75 lakh and promised another Rs 1 crore later for laying sewage system and other development works. Sidhu has been critical of Bajwa on the policy for regularisation of illegal colonies. “I told him (Sidhu) that you have hugged a Bajwa in Pakistan (army general Qamar Bajwa), but this Bajwa will do no harm and instead will be beneficial,” he quipped after the ceremony. His mantra appears to be: When you do something, show it!
The logic of political parties works in strange ways. Take the Congress strategy for the assembly proceedings this week when the controversial report of the Ranjit Singh Commission on the sacrilege incidents will be tabled in the House. On Thursday, the Congress issued a press statement after its legislature party meeting, saying that it had decided to entrust the task of leading the charge against the Akalis to the “firebrand young brigade”. Those who have been asked to lead the debate include Navjot Sidhu, Manpreet Badal, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Kuljit Nagra and Kuldeep Singh Dhillon. Barring Warring, all others named are in their mid-fifties or more – the statement got the last name wrong. This may be close to the retirement age for people in most other professions, but they are still considered young in politics.
Khattar rally in INLD hub creates buzz
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s rally last week at Dabwali, the citadel of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), has created a buzz in political circles. This was his first big rally, “Jiye Jawan, Jiye Kisan”, in the assembly constituency represented by Naina Chautala, wife of ex-MP Ajay Chautala. Khattar fired salvos at the INLD, summing up that while former deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal was a farmers’ leader but the INLD had failed to follow his ideals. A clear sign of rising politics temperatures in the poll-bound state!
Virbhadra, Anurag bond together
Political stalwarts of the BJP and the Congress in Himachal Pradesh came together on The Ridge last week to pay homage to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur shared the dais with Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal, both former CMs of his party. Union health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh were also present. What surprised everyone was that Virbhadra paid special attention to Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur. Cricket administrator-turned-politician Thakur touched Virbhadra’s feet and the Congress veteran leader spent considerable time chatting with him. The two were at loggerheads during the previous Congress-led government over cases pertaining to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.
Shimla deputy mayor’s dirty toilet
Shimla mayor Kusum Sadarate always speaks highly of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. She regularly participates in cleanliness drives, posting her pictures on social media. But Sadarate surprised the participants at a meeting held by the tourism department to seek inputs on the recently restored 107-year-old town hall building. The mayor complained about the toilet in her deputy’s office, calling it “unhygienic”. Her remarks raised questions about the ruling BJP’s claims about its cleanliness drive. “When the municipal body cannot keep a toilet clean, how will it maintain the British-era building?” one of the participants wondered.
Speculations rife after Farooq spotted at Atal prayer meet
A political heavyweight, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah is a past master at politics of convenience. When he raised slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Jai Hind” at a prayer meeting held for former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Delhi recently, many saw it as an attempt to cosy up to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) because the J&K legislative assembly has been in suspended animation since June 19 when the party pulled out of the coalition government with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The state now has a BJP man, Satya Pal Malik, as the state governor even as speculations are rife that the BJP may try to form another coalition government. The party is no longer considered “untouchable” in J&K by National Conference and the PDP because both have been its partner at the Centre and in the state. However, Farooq is ruling out the possibility of government formation in near future.
(Contributed by Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht and Ravi K Khajuria)
First Published: Aug 27, 2018 11:09 IST