Regional buzz: Of gender bias and podium size at a police conference for women
Team HT keeps tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesghpunjab Updated: Jan 22, 2018 13:03 IST
From Manpreet 2.0 to Anil Vij jumping the gun on Padmaavat, here is a a round up of what has been brewing in the power circles of the region:
Of gender bias and podium size
At the Women Police Conference in Ludhiana, Punjab inspector general (personnel and training) Anita Punj saw a gender bias in the size of the podium placed on the stage. A number of women speaker found the podium a tad too high for their comfort. “There seems to be gender bias in the size of podium too. “I could barely see the assistant commissioner of police while she was addressing the gathering. It was too high my height too,” she said in a lighter vein.
Manpreet 2.0: Batting on all sides
In his second innings as Punjab finance minister, this time in Congress, Manpreet Badal seems to be batting on all sides. He is the only minister who has spoken in “defence” of ousted minister Rana Gurjit Singh. But if the grapevine is to be believed, Manpreet knew a thing or two about Rana’s “cook” bidding for a sand mine worth crores and spilled it too. At a cabinet meeting in November when an angry Navjot Sidhu asked Manpreet why funds were not being released to local bodies, Rana had come to Manpreet’s defence. Media-savvy Manpreet is now “accessible” to only those he trusts and wants to be seen by the CM’s side. We can say, yeh Badal badal gaya (This Badal has changed).
Khaira on presser spree
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s frequent press conferences have become a talking point among his detractors, party colleagues and journalists. He holds three pressers a week sometimes, targeting his political rivals and the government. Not that the leader of opposition in Punjab assembly is unaware. At his latest press conference, Khaira began by speaking about his frequent media interactions. “I know it is becoming a bit frequent. I try to give a gap, but some or the other important issue crops up,” he told reporters on Thursday before going after the Congress government for trying to fill vacancies in two state commissions without following due procedures. Though the attendance at some of his press conferences has been thin in recent weeks, few state politicians can match his knack for digging out info. Of course, the former Congressman’s contacts in the ruling establishment have been a help.
Passing on baton, Badal style
Former chief minister Prakash Singh Badal’s absence from the rally held by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at Maghi Mela in Muktsar last week raised several eyebrows. The nonagenarian leader is still active and visits his supporters in his constituency regularly. In his absence, his son, party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, held the fort. It seems the former CM is trying to give a message that Sukhbir can lead the party in his absence. On his 90th birthday in December last year, Badal senior had expressed happiness over the fact that Sukhbir was leading the party’s protests.
Suresh Kumar puts up a brave face
Retired IAS officer Suresh Kumar whose appointment as chief principal secretary to chief minister was quashed by the Punjab and Haryana high court is putting up a brave face. On a personal trip to Japan currently, he posted his pictures sharing light moments with family and friends on a social media site. He left for Tokyo to deliver a lecture on agriculture and subsoil water-related issues in Kyoto University. After the high court order, Kumar said he would not return to the chief minister’s office (CMO). However, his staff and some officers are eagerly waiting for his next step after he reaches Chandigarh on Wednesday.
‘Chor’ barb upsets Cong MLAs
At last week’s meeting of Punjab Congress MLAs with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on farm debt waiver scheme, some MLAs got enraged when a close aide of the CM told them that an officer had called Congress MLAs chors (thieves). There are allegations that some Congress MLAs are collecting “goonda tax” in sand mining and some ministers are being accused of making money in transfers and postings or letting their spouses run the department. But the “chor” barb proved to be a false alarm. The aide in question was just trying to fish in troubled waters. Or was it a way to let the CM know what his ministers and MLAs are doing? In Congress, you can never say who is sailing on which side!
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal is known for his punctuality. The minister reached the venue of his press conference at Maghi Mela in Muktsar on time while some reporters were late. When a journalist praised the FM for his timekeeping, he replied: “Kal main pinda ch c teh time toh pehla hi paunch gya. Lok pehla aye nu v leader nahi mande te late aye nu v ni (Yesterday, I visited some villages and reached early. People don’t consider one a leader who arrives either late or early)”.
Of gender bias and podium size
At the All Women Police Conference on “Women Empowerment” in Ludhiana, Punjab inspector general (personnel and training) Anita Punj saw a gender bias in the size of the podium placed on the stage. A number of women speaker found the podium a tad too high for their comfort. “There seems to be gender bias in the size of podium too. “I could barely see the assistant commissioner of police while she was addressing the gathering. It was too high my height too,” she said in a lighter vein.
Patiala palace stamp on info commissioners
The posts of two information commissioners have gone to the Patiala palace. One is chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s biographer who has bestowed on him the title of ‘People’s Maharaja’ and the other, a confidant of his wife, Preneet Kaur, who manages everything from campaigns to postings. A Congressman has coined an analogy -- Ek for ‘Raja’, ek for ‘Rani’, khatam kahani! The Right to Information (RTI) Act was enshrined to get information from government departments reluctant to share it. Hope the spirit of the act is not defeated.
Padmaavat: Vij jumps the gun
A number of Haryana ministers have the tendency to speak or tweet without verifying the facts, particularly before the media. Health minister Anil Vij on Thursday tweeted after a cabinet meeting that Bollywood movie Padmaavat has been banned in Haryana. However, during the hearing in the Supreme Court on a petition challenging the ban on the movie, the counsel for the state government told the apex court that the state government has not issued any orders to prohibit screening of the film and only an in-principle decision has been taken. The apex court was also told that only Gujarat and Rajasthan have issued formal ban orders. Since a discussion to ban the movie took place during a cabinet meeting, an impression was created by the ministers briefing the media that the decision to ban the movie was that of the cabinet. The fact is that unless a formal memorandum is placed before the cabinet, a decision cannot be construed to be that of the cabinet.
Haryana Cong camps woo Rahul
The Haryana Congress is agog with talks of its sparring leaders separately meeting the party’s national president Rahul Gandhi. The first to meet Rahul were former minister Capt Ajay Yadav and his son Chiranjeev who post their photos on social media. State unit president Ashok Tanwar and Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Kiran Choudhry were next. Soon thereafter, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also met him. All of them tried to show their proximity to the new president, knowing that it counts more than anything else in the party.
HP ministers getting used to attention
With transfer-seekers and other visitors making a beeline outside the state civil secretariat, the ministers in the new Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government are still to get used to this situation. A number of them do not sit in their offices and prefer to meet officers and VIP visitors in their retiring rooms. In spite of the chief minister’s directions, most of them are still accepting bouquets from the visitors. Jai Ram, who took oath last month, has asked people not to bring bouquets, urging them to liberally donate to the chief minister’s relief fund instead.
Official bungalow: Kishan Kapoor’s wait gets longer
A majority of the newly-elected ministers in Himachal Pradesh have shifted to their official bungalows, but food and civil supplies minister Kishan Kapoor is still scouting for suitable accommodation. Colonel Dhani Ram Shandil (retd), who was social justice minister in the previous Virbhadra Singh government, has not yet vacated the ministerial bungalow in Chotta Shimla’s Yates Palace. Kapoor is still putting up at the government-run Hotel Peterhoff. He is among the senior-most ministers in the new government.
(Contributed by Sukhdeep Kaur, Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Sarbmeet Singh, Aneesha Sareen Kumar, Hitender Rao, Rajesh Moudgil and Gaurav Bisht)