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Regional buzz: From Sukhpal Khaira’s dapper look to Sidhu’s hug storm

From who leaked the Ranjit panel report to Sidhu hugging the Pak army chief, here is the round up of all that is making news in the region.

punjab Updated: Aug 20, 2018 10:56 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Sukhpal Khaira,Aam Aadmi Party,Ranjit Singh Commission
Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Navjot Singh Sidhu(HT File )

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

Khaira loves to sport dapper look

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) dissident group leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira isn’t just known for his combative style of politics. The sharp-tongued MLA’s sartorial sense also sets him apart from most of the other politicians in Punjab. The master of ‘a-quote-a-day’ style of politics has perhaps held more press conferences than any other political leader in the state in the last one year. And, he dresses sharp each time, wearing spotless, crease-free kurta-churidars and half jackets with pagris (headgears) in vibrant contrast colours. Occasionally, he dons well-fitted T-shirts with jeans. Always careful about his overall look, Khaira even asks the camerapersons whether they have got the light and camera angles right. Not everyone seems impressed with the dapper former leader of opposition, though. His party colleague, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, took a dig at his sartorial sense and political style the other day, saying that all he did used to do was go live on Facebook with a pen worth Rs 12,000 in his pocket. One man’s meat is another man’s poison!

SAD revamps its media team

With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in disarray, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which slipped to the number three position in the state after 10 years in power, is sensing an opportunity. The party has engaged former journalists, Surinder Awasthi and Jasmine Sandhawalia, to shore up its media coverage. Awasthi, a former information commissioner, and Sandhawalia had worked for leading English newspapers. Before she aligned herself with Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia, Sandhawalia had been an aide- cum-media handler to Preneet Kaur,former Patiala MP and wife of Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. The team has been seated in an office that was with Harcharan Bains, former media adviser to ex-chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, earlier. Bains is said to have fallen out with the party top brass. Another former journalist, Jangveer Singh, is media adviser to former deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Who leaked Ranjit panel report?

The corridors of power are abuzz with speculations over who leaked the first report of Ranjit Singh Commission, which later went viral. The report, as per government sources, was with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, his chief principal secretary Suresh Kumar, home secretary NS Kalsi, advocate general Atul Nanda, chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh, DGP Suresh Arora and Justice Ranjit Singh himself. The CM has yet to officially confirm media reports that a cabinet sub-committee will probe the leak. While the Akalis and AAP are blaming the Congress government for the leak, the finger of suspicion is on leaders of all three parties who could have gained access to the report and stand to gain from the leak. But the probe will have to start from “home”, something home minister Amarinder may not find too appetising.

Hug storm: AAP dissident camp backs Sidhu

The AAP and the dissident camp led by Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in Punjab do not seem to agree on much these days. A day after leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema condemned local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who travelled to Islamabad for cricketer-turned-politician and new Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony, for hugging the Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the dissident faction took a different line. Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu, spokesperson of the Khaira faction, said that hullabaloo over the visit is misplaced. “Such visits have happened in past, so is the hug (jhappi), which is the normal Punjabi greeting. Just recall visit of Narendra Modi for birthday of Nawaz Sharif,” he posted on Twitter on Sunday.

BJP’s love for ‘chowkidar’

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi called himself a ‘chowkidar’ (watchman), his party leaders seem to have become obsessed with the word. In Punjab where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in the opposition, its state unit president, Shwait Malik, last week said the party was playing the role of chowkidar and keeping an eye on the anti-people policies of the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government. “The chowkidar (BJP) is strong here. We will not sit quiet and have been playing our role well,” said the Rajya Sabha MP. ‘Follow the leader’ appears to be Malik’s mantra. But there is one thing he needs to check with his boss. Who is chowkidar - the one in power or the opposition?

Cheeky stuff!

A press release from the SAD with the heading, ‘Capt Amarinder Singh joins Akali Dal’, that landed in the mail box of journalists last week got everyone curious. As it turned out, this Amarinder was a little-known student leader who had joined the party. His only claim to fame is that he has the same name as the chief minister of Punjab. A few news websites and vernacular dailies put out the story with the teaser headline. Though political parties often use such gimmicks during the election campaigns, this one was a bit too early as the general elections are due next year.

Chandumajra remembers his guru — Tandon

Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, mourning the loss of BJP leader Balramji Das Tandon, remembered him as his teacher. “He taught me political science of post-graduate level without the help of book,” he reminisced. Both Tandon and Chandumajra were lodged in Patiala jail for 19 months during the Emergency period in 1975-77. “I cleared the exam in first division. The lessons he taught are still useful,” said the Akali leader.

Hooda, Dalal, Sharma take a holy dip

Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Hooda, Palwal MLA Karan Dalal and former assembly speaker Kuldeep Sharma were away to Haridwar last week for a dip in Ganga and attend a special puja on the occasion of Jot Mahotsva. The trio made full use of the time available to them due to the postponement of the state assembly session in the wake of demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Cub named after ‘chubby’ MLA

At the ‘namkaran’ (naming) ceremony of three cubs of an Asiatic lioness at Pipli zoo in Kurukshetra, the land of Mahabharta, last week, Haryana forests and wildlife minister Rao Narbir Singh sprung a surprise by christening one of them after local BJP MLA Subhash Sudha. While the names of two of them, Arjun and Gita, were taken from Mahabharata, everyone wanted to know the story behind the third name. “The third one was looking very healthy. Therefore, I decided to name the cub as Sudha,” said Singh with the plump MLA standing beside him. And, there were smiles all around.

(Contributed by Gurpreet Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Sukhdeep Kaur, Sachin Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil and Neeraj Mohan)

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 10:53 IST