Regional buzz: Of bombastic Badal, Bajwa’s mission green, Khali factor, and more

Updated on Jul 09, 2018 11:21 AM IST

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

(Illustration: Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)
(Illustration: Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByHT Correspondents

Bombastic Badal!

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and former deputy chief minister is given to making pompous statements. When the National Highway 54 caved in near Bathinda due to heavy rains last week, resulting in an accident, people took potshots at Sukhbir on social media, saying his “bamb aali sadak” sank just due to rain.

At the foundation stone laying ceremony of the four-laning projects of national highways in presence of Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari in Bathinda in January 2015, Sukhbir had jokingly said, “These new roads to be constructed will be so strong that these will not break even if someone drops bomb on them”. Jaijeet Singh Johal, brother-in-law of Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal who was targeted by Sukhbir not very long ago, did not waste time in taking a dig at the Akali leader. “It didn’t require dropping bombs on road and simple rain sank the road,” he posted on social media. Bombastic Badal, shall we say!

Dope test live, Aujla style

Gurjit Singh Aujla
Gurjit Singh Aujla

After the Punjab government ordered screening of all employees for drug use, politicians of all hues are rushing to hospitals to undergo dope test. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Aman Arora was the first legislator to give his samples and members of the ruling Congress and other parties quickly followed suit. But Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar Gurjit Singh Aujla did it in style.

First, he called the mediapersons for “live coverage” of his dope test at Swami Vivekanand Drug De-addiction Centre, a unit of Government Medical College, Amritsar. After giving the sample, he told reporters: “See everything with your eyes here! Tomorrow, you may raise the issue that manipulation has been done with the machines to get negative result, like the EVMs issue”. A few minutes later, he got the test report and got his pictures clicked flaunting it.

It’s mission green for minister Bajwa

Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa
Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa

Punjab housing, urban development, rural development and panchayats minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa is on a green mission, motivating politicians and bureaucrats to plant trees. These days, the minister is distributing posters he had got printed in large numbers to encourage people to grow more trees.

The poster has a message in the form of a poem penned by Shiv Kumar Batalvi which says trees are like father, mother, son, friends and daughter. The posters are seen in all the offices, but whether they are actually motivating anyone is still not clear.

Ramoowalia paints a grim picture

Balladeer-turned-politician Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who had merged his Lok Bhalai Party into the SAD before joining the Samajwadi Party, has held politicians for drug menace in Punjab. In a post on his Facebook page, Ramoowalia, while giving a felicitation message on 151st Canada day, said that Punjab was ruined of its ‘aklan’ (intelligence), ‘shaklan’ (faces), ‘nasalan’ (generations) atey (and) ‘faslan’ (crops), blaming the drug problem. The former minister painted Punjab as a state in a shambles and was all praise for Canada.

Testing times for Haryana PR dept

The 46-month-old and the first ever Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana is using every method to spruce up its battered image. Fielding senior bureaucrats and the ministers to hold press conferences every week is one of the many key elements of this ‘connect-with-people’ ploy. But bringing in reporters to these ‘boring’ media briefings is testing the skills of the public relations department.

During two back-to-back media interactions last Thursday inside swanky 9th floor conference room of civil secretariat, a sizeable number of ‘fresh faces’ were sitting dutifully. Even then, the venue was half full. Much to the surprise, it turned out that male and female employees of the department outnumbered the journalists.

Khattar opens front against Opposition

Manohar Lal Khattar
Manohar Lal Khattar

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, whose criticism of the opposition parities is usually moderate, seems to have upped the ante. During his connect-to-people campaign in Hisar last week, he called the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) a “party of looters” and the Congress a ‘BBC’, which meant a party notorious for corruption in badli (transfers), bharti (recruits) and change of land use (CLU) permissions.

“INLD wale lootate bhi hain and kootate bhi hain,” he alleged meaning that INLD is known for loot as well as assault on people. The political discourse appears set to get bitter ahead of the Lok Sabha and assembly polls due next year.

Of darbar & disappointment

The open darbar of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar in his constituency of Karnal could not fetch desired results, as most complainants returned disappointed. The open session, second to be held in the constituency in six months, drew 500 complainants who came for redress of grievances, but the CM could not attend to all of them in the three-hour session.

He heard 100 complaints and others were told to submit their written compliant to officials present. This agitated people who had to wait in queue for hours for the CM to give them a hearing. “Khattar saab ne 100 logon ko khush kiya to 400 ko naraaj karke chale gaye,” said one of them.

Arora’s dhol jibe at BJP

After the Centre announced minimum support prices (MSPs) for various kharif crops last week, INLD state unit president Ashok Arora held a press conference to lash out at the NDA government, terming the MSP hike as a farce as it was far less than even the cost price.

When asked how come chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and agriculture minister OP Dhankar celebrated this hike amid drum beating, Arora quipped in Haryanvi: “Election aane do, log bajavange BJP ko dhol (people would soundly beat BJP drum in the ensuing polls)”. Some of the party workers and scribes had a thunderous laughter.

When Khattar got upset with a journo

Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar recently did not like a journalist’s tone of asking him questions. During an interaction with the media in Sirsa, a journalist asked the CM to inquire about officials not properly dealing with the complaints filed on CM window, to which the CM got angry.

“Listen to me...who are you? Media does not speak like that. Media asks questions, it does not level allegations. I know better what is happening and action is being taken against those found at fault. But you learn etiquettes... bolne ki tameez seekho (learn how to speak),” said the CM and walked away!

Dhumal loyalist Bragta shakes a leg with CM

Jubbal-Kotkhai MLA and former horticulture minister Narender Bragta, a staunch loyalist of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is going out of his way to draw chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s attention. Though Bragta did not get a ministerial berth this time even though his name was in reckoning, the party appointed Bragta and Jawalamukhi MLA Ramesh Dhawala as chief whip and deputy chief whip. The state assembly passed a bill in the Budget session granting cabinet rank to chief whip.

The governor accorded his consent, but the government is still to accommodate them. But Bragta has not given up. Recently, Bragta, along with a group of his supporters, met Jai Ram at his official residence to express gratitude for announcing developmental works. Bragta and his supporters held naati, a traditional folk dance, and the CM also shook a leg with them. The MLA lavished praise on the CM, saying that what the Congress could not do in 63 years, Jai Ram has done in five months.

Cashing in on Khali factor

Govind Thakur
Govind Thakur

Himachal Pradesh sports and youth services minister Govind Thakur was at the forefront to ensure the success of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) fame wrestler Dalip Singh Rana aka Great Khali’s wrestling entertainment shows in Mandi and Solan towns even as the event was mired in political row. Congress Legislature Party leader Mukesh Agnihotri targeted the event, alleging that the government was bending backwards to support wrestling show.

He released a letter sent by sports department to the pollution control board, directing the officers to arrange sponsorship to tune of Rs 5 lakh for the event. Thakur accompanied Khali at media briefings for two events that had performances by television actress Rakhi Sawant and Haryanvi singer Sapna Chaudhary. Govind’s love for Khali has left the political circles agog with speculation that the BJP would try to encash the wrestler’s fame in the Lok Sabha elections

Close aide shifts loyalty, Bali hurt

Days after one of his close aides switched sides to his old bête noire, former minister GS Bali vent his emotions out at a meeting with party workers held on his home turf Nagrota Bagwan the other day. A long-time trusted lieutenant of Bali, Manoj Mehta was recently seen cozying up to former urban development minister Sudhir Sharma at a private function. Bali took it hard.

“Wounds given by your own people don’t heal easily. I am hurt but cannot compromise with my ideals,” Bali told his supporters without naming anyone. He also declared that a new unit of Nagrota Block Congress would be constituted soon through elections. The move is apparently aimed at throwing Mehta out.

(Contributed by Sachin Sharma, Surjit Singh, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Pawan Sharma, Rajesh Moudgil, Neeraj Mohan, Hardik Anand, Gaurav Bisht, Naresh K Thakur)

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