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Regional buzz: From Ram Rahim’s kitchen garden to Sidhu keeping mum

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

punjab Updated: Sep 25, 2017 15:28 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Ram Rahim,Navjot Singh Sidhu,Dera Sacha Sauda
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal has been a media darling for long. But he was seen running away from reporters during the inaugural function of Kisan Mela in Ludhiana on Thursday

Sidhu keeps mum, for a change

A quiet Navjot Singh Sidhu is hard to imagine. But local bodies and tourism minister managed what many considered not possible, at a press conference addressed by Punjab Congress chief and Gurdaspur candidate Sunil Jakhar the other day, despite a barrage of questions. The mediapersons fired questions at him on the Badal family – his favourite target from the time he has joined the state government — asking him about his promise to punish them for “wrongdoings”. But the minister kept mum, forcing a scribe to remark, “Tusi ta kehande c fatte chak deange, fate ta aje v uthe hi han”. The minister, to everyone’s surprise, let it pass and just smiled.

Ram Rahim and his kitchen garden!

Dera Sacha Sauda often portrayed its chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh as a “nature lover”, announcing massive tree plantation drives on his birthday. Also, photographs showing him tending to plants were regularly posted on social media. All for a “good cause” – help save the Earth from pollution and increasing global warming. The “love charger”, lodged in Rohtak’s Sunaria prison after being convicted by a CBI court for rape of two women, has all the time to pursue his interest. Ram Rahim has been given gardening work in jail to till soil, growing vegetables and water plants and is getting Rs 20 a day for it. Not a matter of choice for him, though.

Khanna-baiter Salaria turns his fan!

Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll Swaran Singh Salaria, who once termed actor-politician Vinod Khanna a “sharabi” (drunkard), had his pictures on hoardings at a public rally in Gurdaspur on Friday. Salaria, who had opposed Khanna’s candidature in 2014, was never on best of terms with him. But the businessman-turned politician forgot his past slur as soon as the party named him as its candidate for the bypoll necessitated by Khanna’s death. Though she was also a claimant for the party ticket, BJP leaders convinced Kavita, wife of Vinod Khanna, to campaign for Salaria. Kavita did not seem at ease when the two leaders shared the stage the other day. Hiding emotions is never easy but Kavita did well!

Sidhu is all ears for this man

That local government minister Navjot Sidhu can talk nonstop is well-known. But few know that one person he listens to, almost always, is his adviser Amar Singh. A former bureaucrat, Singh, who was principal secretary to Madhya Pradesh chief minister earlier, works with Sidhu now. “Navjot, there is some unfinished work,” he told the minister, who was engrossed in talk with a group of politicians, in a commanding voice the other days. Sidhu was quick to respond and go with his adviser to another room for a meeting.

Manpreet tries to duck media queries

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal has been a media darling for long. But he was seen running away from reporters during the inaugural function of Kisan Mela in Ludhiana on Thursday. Badal just spoke about the mela and went away, saying that he needs to leave because it is raining. It had started to rain before the media interaction began and the minister was standing under a tent. The reporters, who were eager to ask him about the poor financial condition of the state and growing demand for total farm debt waiver, were disappointed.

A panchayat officer forced to play musical chairs

After a panchayat officer was shifted from Lambi to Mohali, leaders of both Congress and SAD seemed happy. The officer had been on SAD’s hit list from the time she posted some remarks on Facebook during the previous government and was shunted out. But the Congress government posted her back in Lambi on a party leader’s request. But the Congress leader, who does not hold any position in the government, also felt offended when she refused to take orders from him and other ruling party leaders. The selection of Badal (native village of ex-CM Prakash Singh Badal), Maan (adopted by Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna) and Khudiya Gulab Singh (village of Congress district president Gurmeet Khudiyan) under the “Swachhta Hi Sewa” scheme also perturbed some of them. Needless to say, her frequent transfers have left the officer disappointed.

Dalal’s penchant for dialogues

Congress MLA Karan Dalal recently showed his fondness for Hindi film dialogues. Addressing newspersons, Dalal while referring to Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda alleged that the BJP government in Haryana ditched it. “When the dera followers at Panchkula pleaded ‘sarkar hamane aapka namak khaya hai’, the government pumped bullets into them and said le ab goli kha,’’ he clinched an analogy from a sequence involving ‘Gabbar’ and ‘Kalia’ from ‘Sholay’. Then, Dalal said that he would continue to bring out issues against the government, topping it with actor Pran’s famous dialogue, meri nazar se bachaa no koi, tu kaise bach payega.

Birender’s dig at Hooda

Union minister Birender Singh recently took on his old-friend-turned political rival Bhupinder Singh Hooda in a hilarious manner. Birender, while addressing a rally in Jind, narrated story of Hooda calling him up to inquire about his health. The minister said he replied to Hooda that he was a little sick, but asked him not to worry because he was sure he will live long. “I had sensed that Hooda was calling up to inquire about my political health, since he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a matter of few days, stirring a row within the Haryana Congress,” he told the crowd.

BJP sadhvi’s gaffe

Knowing that naming the party’s CM candidate in Himachal Pradesh could trigger factional fights, BJP leaders are treading with caution, trying to strike balance between Union health minister JP Nadda, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and those loyal to veteran leader Shanta Kumar. BJP national president Amit Shah also sang the unity song at Yuva Hunkar rally in Kangra. But another party leader, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, shocked the party leaders while addressing a gathering at Badsar in Hamirpur the next day. She told the crowd that if the party comes to power, Dhumal would lead the government. Of course, the gaffe did not go down well the party leadership.

Mandi MP’s ‘NaMonama’

BJP leaders never miss an opportunity to sing the praises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mandi MP Ramswaroop Sharma, who addressed the Yuva Hunkar Rally the other day, had several tales from past and present to tell. Beginning with the “legacy of the great country called India that has hammered enemies in their own land since times immemorial”, he soon switched to Modi. Calling him a “great leader”, Sharma said that Modi agreed to visit South Africa only on the condition that he would take a ride on train from which Mahatma Gandhi was once thrown out. “Pretoria searched for the ‘particular bogie’ to ensure that Modi visit their country,” he carried on before an amused audience.

A funny moment at Anurag’s rally

At BJP youth wing’s rally at Kangra, Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur cursed the Himachal government for failing to live up to expectations. The cricketer-turned-politician named the “Unemployment Allowance Scheme” as one of the biggest disappointments, accusing the government of deceiving the youth. “Did you get the allowance?” he asked the audience. In response, some enthusiastic elderly women seated in front row near the press enclosure got up. “No, no,” they replied loudly, leaving the scribes in splits.

Shimla mayor, deputy face flak

Shimla mayor Kusum Sadrate and her deputy Rakesh Sharma faced flak on social media last week. With 500 door-to-door garbage collectors in the city on indefinite strike for the past 10 days, Sadrate and Sharma posted pictures on Facebook, a social networking site, to promote the Centre’s Swatch Bharat Abhiyan. What further irked the social media enthusiasts is that the photographs had the two leaders, who have been in the forefront of programmes held by the BJP in the state, holding a single broomstick with party leader Ganesh Dutt. The Congress councilors and Left leaders have also started calling the BJP ruled municipal body as “Facebook Municipal Corporation”.

(Contributed by Surjit Singh, Navneet Sharma, Nikhil Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Sarbmeet Singh, Harsimran Singh Batra, Rajesh Moudgil, Hardik Anand, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)

First Published: Sep 25, 2017 15:19 IST