Regional buzz: Mann in full flow; SAD watching ‘Bunty aur Babli’; Sidhu’s development film; and more

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

punjab Updated: Jul 24, 2017 15:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Bhagwant Mann,Sukhbir Badal,Navjot Singh Sidhu
Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu

Mann in full flow, deals a stinging blow

AAP MP Bhagwant Mann has been rather quiet from the time he became the party’s state unit president in Punjab. But whenever he speaks, few can match him in sarcasm and innuendo. Mann, who interacted with reporters after a meeting of party MLAs in Chandigarh the other day, hit out at the Capt Amarinder Singh government and its “unfulfilled promises” with stinging remarks. “Naurki den da wada Beant Singh de ghar toh shuru kita si....ek CM hai oothe, ek MP, teh mantra vi hange.Unhnanu naukri bandni si...auran nu kuch ni dena (They started by giving a job in (late CM) Beant Singh’s family. The family has had one CM, one MP, a minister....They deserved the job. But no job for others,” he said, taking a dig at the government for the job given to former CM’s grandson. Then, he also, while speaking about the election of new leader of the AAP legislature party, hit out at lack of “internal democracy” in other parties, especially the Congress. “They have a ‘parchi culture’ where the high command handpicks leaders and conveys its choice by putting their names on slips,” he said in his trademark style.

SAD keenly watching ‘Bunty aur Babli’

During the presidential elections last week, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) camp was not showing any signs of sadness over losing the state polls. Party chief Sukhbir Badal and his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia were busy cracking jokes with journos. Who was the joke on? Sukhbir’s estranged cousin and finance minister Manpreet Badal and local government minister Navjot Sidhu whom the duo call ‘Bunty aur Babli’, the “cons” of a famous Bollywood movie by the same name. Who’s Babli (the female cast)? They want you to guess. Jokes apart, the two ministers, both relatively new in the party, are causing a lot of heartburn in both the enemy and Congress camps for getting plum cabinet berths when four and five-time winning MLAs are still waiting anxiously.

For holy cow sake

Punjab Cow Commission chairman Kemti Bhagat wants chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to emulate his grandfather. Reminding the CM that his grandfather, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, donated 350 acres for cow grazing about 100 years ago, Bhagat recently requested him to allow free power connections to all 472 gaushalas (cow shelters) in the state. “What Maharaja Bhupinder Singh did in early 1900s is still beneficial for cows. I am sure the CM will accede to our request for betterment of cows,” he said while making the request. All for cows’ sake!

Sidhu’s development film

“Eh taan trailer hai development naam di film da (this is just a trailer of film named development),” is what Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said immediately after inaugurating a rail over bridge (ROB) in Amritsar. Sidhu, famous for his one-liners, was talking about the development projects being planned by the new government. But no action is complete without the minister targeting the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government. He dubbed the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project a “‘pre-mature baby”, accusing the previous government rushing with it without completion.

When Capt called on Jaitley

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s meeting with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley last week became a talking point in political circles of Punjab. The two had fought a bitter electoral battle for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat three years ago in which Capt had defeated the BJP bigwig. But as the chief minister Amarinder is now seeking Jaitley’s intervention to fulfil his debt waiver promise made in the run-up to this year’s state assembly elections. He wants the finance minister to ask the banks to allow the Punjab government to take over farmers’ debt. “All eyes are on what Jaitley does,” said a Congress MLA, keeping his fingers crossed.

Swayamsevak to five-star CM

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar held a press conference on completion of 1,000 days of the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state. While he was accompanied by almost all his cabinet colleagues, it was for the first time that Khattar held the press conference outside the civil secretariat or Haryana Niwas. The press meet was held in a five-star hotel owned by UT administration in Chandigarh. The event did not go down well with some officials and newspersons who felt the state government headed by a one-time swayamsevak was splurging taxpayers’ money. But not everyone was in agreement. A few others were of the view that it was an important milestone for Khattar and he needed to do things differently. The CM listed his achievements and made some more announcements.

Netas will be netas

The schoolgirl’s rape and murder that sparked off violent protests also saw politicians trying to make the most of public anger. They not just politicised the issue, but went all out to settle political scores. When BJP leaders participated in a protest against the Congress government, they posted their ‘selfies’ on social media. Congress leaders hit back by posting online pictures of some of them (BJP leaders) laughing during the event. And that’s not all. Politicians went a step further for some publicity, calling up mediapersons to publish their photographs.

(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Gurpreet Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Aseem Bassi, Rajesh Moudgil and Gaurav Bisht)

First Published: Jul 24, 2017 15:56 IST