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Regional buzz: From Punjab MLAs being wary of being bugged to Ghubaya’s dilemma

From no one keeping tabs on AAP exits to rodents being behind the flyover wall collapse in Ludhiana, here is all that made a buzz in the region:

punjab Updated: May 21, 2018 12:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Punjab MLAs,Captain Amarinder Singh,Parminder Singh Bajwa
(Left to right) Ravneet Singh Bittu, Sher Singh Ghubaya, Abhay Chautala and Prem Kumar Dhumal. (HT Photo)

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

Punjab MLAs wary of being bugged

After chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh gave out call details of opposition leaders who spoke to now arrested SHO Parminder Singh Bajwa at a press conference, many Punjab ministers and Congress MLAs are wondering if they too have been bugged. One of the ministers recently found his mobile phone’s top cover open after he left it unattended. Many of them are wary of talking on WhatsApp too. One minister was heard advising another to switch to Facetime.

Ghubaya’s dilemma: SAD or Cong

Ferozepur MP Sher Singh Ghubaya, who recently toured the villages of Muktsar assembly after a long time, appears to be in a dilemma over the SAD and the Congress. The SAD MP was asked about the performance of two successive central governments headed by Dr Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. “Dekhoji ehde bare nhi main kuj keh skda. Pehla asi opposition ch c fr asi alliance ch c, km odo v hoye a km hun v hoye a (I cannot comment on this. During my first term, we were in opposition and then in alliance (with the ruling BJP). Both parties have worked for people),” he said. On being asked his plans for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Ghubaya did not give a straight answer. “I will contest. SAD has not sacked me and my son in MLA from Congress,” he said. The two-time MP’s relationship with the SAD leadership has been rocky from the time of the state assembly polls last year.

No one keeping tabs on AAP exits

With a number of leaders quitting the party after the state assembly polls last year, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) top brass in Punjab is not only at a loss of words, it has also failed to keep track of exits. When general secretary Palwinder Kaur Hareayu quit the AAP about 10 days ago to join the National Scheduled Castes Alliance (NSCA), a socio-political organisation, headed by Paramjit Singh Kainth, due to the party’s “lack of interest” in issues related to the plight of the Scheduled Caste community in the state, a senior party leader wondered why she had to quit. “Kainth is with the party,” he said after Hareayu joined NSCA as its women wing chief. A former state vice-president, Kainth, who was among the party’s star campaigners for the assembly elections, had quit the AAP last year. A clear sign not everyone in the AAP is sure who’s in and who’s out. Things are going get more difficult as exits from the party continue unabated.

Rodents behind wall collapse: Bittu smells a rat

After a retaining wall of a busy flyover collapsed in Ludhiana last week, municipal corporation officials blamed it on rodents. But Ludhiana MP, who visited the spot, did not seem convinced. He said only rats cannot be a reason behind the incident. “An inquiry is needed to find out whether rats fed on soil and made burrows or there were some money-eaters involved. Was it mitti or money?” he remarked, hinting at possible corruption.

INLD’s dig at govt’s ‘double standards’

Leader of the opposition in Haryana assembly Abhay Chautala has questioned the “double standards” being followed by the BJP government vis-a-vis initiation of inquiries. Health minister Anil Vij recently ordered registration of a criminal case against an official of the public health engineering department while presiding over a meeting of district grievances redress committee in Kaithal. The official pleaded that an inquiry should be conducted first before a FIR is registered. However, Vij was unrelenting. Chautala on Sunday asked that when a conversation on an audio clip in which the name of chairman of Haryana Staff Selection Commission allegedly figured in relation to payment of illegal gratification went viral, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had ordered an inquiry despite a demand of registration of an FIR by the opposition during the assembly session. “On one hand, the CM says that an inquiry has to be conducted before registration of an FIR and on the other hand his minister straightway orders registration of a criminal case against a junior ranked official. Are these not double standards,’’ he asked.

Hry minister fires salvo at Abhay over tie-up with BSP

Haryana minister of state for welfare of scheduled castes and backward classes Krishan Kumar Bedi sent the scribes into splits while commenting on opposition INLD’s alliance with BSP last week. “It is all opportunistic politics of INLD. During their earlier alliance in 1999, former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala called BSP leader Mayawati as his behan (sister). Now, his son Abhay Chautala terms her as his sister in 2018. He should call her ‘Bua-ji’ (aunt),” he quipped.

HP babus fortunes change

When Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur appointed IAS officer Shrikant Baldi as his principal secretary in place of Manisha Nanda, the additional chief secretary-rank officer was more than pleased. Not only the post of PSCM a coveted one, Baldi had also repeatedly requested the state government to relieve him of the charge of finance department. The officer was finance secretary of the state for the past seven years and is elated at the change. Nanda, who had a four-and-a-half month stint in Jai Ram’s CMO, is now additional chief secretary in-charge of revenue and public works departments.

LS polls: Dhumal in active mode

Former BJP chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was lying low ever since his shocking defeat to one-time protégé Rajinder Rana, Sujanpur during the state assembly polls, is finally back in action. With the party gearing up for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Dhumal has got active. His son, Anurag Thakur, is all set to be the party’s nominee for the fourth time from Hamirpur parliamentary segment. The other day, the former CM landed unannounced at a party meeting in Sujanpur and sprang a surprise by declaring that three members of Nagar have joined the BJP.

Upset Kapoor raps Dharmashala MC officials

Himachal Pradesh food and civil supplies minister Kishan Kapoor has been at loggerheads with the Congress-ruled Dharamshala municipal corporation for quite some time. First, Kapoor was angry with mayor Rajni Vyas and deputy mayor Devinder Jaggi for skipping the swearing-in ceremony of nominated members where he was the chief guest. The minister then rapped the MC for water wastage due to leaking pipes. And most recently, he slammed the civic body officials for crumbling sanitation in the town.

(Contributed by Sukhdeep Singh, Navneet Sharma, Sarbmeet Singh, Harsimran Singh Batra, Hitender Rao, Rajesh Moudgil, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh K Thakur)