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Regional buzz: Sidhu among Cong star campaigners for Gujarat polls; Rajput body patron a Deepika fan and Cheema’s luxury tax idea

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

punjab Updated: Nov 27, 2017 12:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Regional buzz,Sidhu,Congress
“He (Manpreet) owns 15 (vintage) jeeps. He should pay luxury tax on vintage vehicles he owns,” Cheema asked the other day.(Illustration by: Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)

Join Hindustan Times as we keep tabs on the goings on in the power circles in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir:

Cheema wants luxury tax on Manpreet’s vintage beauties

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema has an interesting suggestion for the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government on resource mobilisation. He suggested to the state government to impose luxury tax on vintage jeeps, including the ones owned by finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, to mop up funds for state exchequer. “He (Manpreet) owns 15 (vintage) jeeps. He should pay luxury tax on vintage vehicles he owns,” Cheema asked the other day. Is the CM, who now heads the cabinet sub-committee constituted to review the cash-strapped state’s fiscal situation, listening?

Guj polls: Sidhu, Warring among Cong star campaigners

Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu and Indian Youth Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja ‘Warring’, who is also MLA from Gidderbaha, are among the ‘star campaigners’ in the poll battle for Gujarat. The two leaders known for their aggressive speechmaking figure in the list of 40 ‘star campaigners’ submitted by the Congress to the Election Commission. The cricketer-turned-politician used to campaign for BJP in Gujarat before he quit the party to join Congress last year. The party’s list, which does not include Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh or his counterparts in other states where the party is in power, has set tongues wagging in political circles here. Amarinder was among the ‘star campaigners’ in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. “Why doesn’t the Congress want to showcase its success in Punjab?” asked a party leader with a quizzical look on his face. There is no bar on any leader campaigning in poll-bound state, though. The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also do not have anyone from the state among their star campaigners.

Let bygones be bygones: Majithia

Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia, who was revenue minister in the previous SAD-BJP government, does not want to talk about the past. Any query related to the government of which he was an important member upsets him. The unease becomes apparent on his face. “Lets us move on, it is 2017 and a new government is in place. Why talk of 2015?” Majithia told a scribe on being asked about the previous government when he went to the state assembly along with some party colleagues to submit a memorandum. He now wants to focus on AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira’s alleged dealings with a drug smuggler, involvement of Congress MLAs in illegal sand mining and failures of the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in the state.

Aman Arora AAP’s new go-to guy

Leader of opposition in Punjab assembly, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, has been the face of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab till now, going after the Congress government, organising protests and speaking on party matters. But things seem to be taking a slight turn. Others, who were a tad restive about his tendency of hogging the limelight, have started coming into their own. Though Punjab AAP president Bhagwant Mann is still keeping a somewhat low profile, his deputy Aman Arora appears to have become a lot more active, making regular statements, taking digs at the state government, and holding party meetings for the upcoming municipal polls these days. The party’s official statements are also giving equal play to them. When Khaira, who is in the dock for his alleged links with a drug smuggler, was also asked about the MC polls, his response was, “please check with Aman Arora”. Now that’s something totally unimaginable until a few days ago.

Stubble trouble: Give a solution get $1 million

The Punjab government has made a $1 million offer to anyone who gives a viable solution to manage paddy stubble that leads to environmental crisis in northern states, including Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. “We are ready to give away the hefty reward for the solution or some chemical formula for early decomposition of stubble,” power and irrigation minister Rana Gurjit Singh said the other day. The offer, which has been made despite the acute financial crisis being faced by the state, is cited as a sign of seriousness the government attaches to paddy stubble management.

Amu a Dippy fan, but upsent over Padmavati portrayal

Rajputana Virasat Jagriti Manch patron Suraj Pal Amu, who made the headlines for his controversial remarks against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period film Padmavati and its lead actor Deepika Padukone, had to struggle to convince journalists about the reason for his protest. When asked if he had seen the film and what his objections were, Amu, who is also media coordinator of the BJP in Haryana, took no time in admitting that he had not seen it. “I have only seen the film’s official trailer. But the very depiction of Rani Padmavati is intolerable,” he said. He went on to say that though personally he was a big fan of the actress, he did not like Rajput queen’s portrayal in the film.

Birender’s left-handed compliment to Khattar

Union minister of steel Birender Singh never misses a chance to take a dig at his party colleague and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, even when he has to praise him. Recently, when Khattar replied to Hooda that he did not support the culture of giving plot and cash to achievers, Birender supported his statement in an unusual way. “Mujhe toh lagta hai pichle 3 saal mein unhone isse acha bayan hi ni diya (I think he has not given a better statement than this one in last three years,” he said. A left-handed compliment, isn’t it?

Dhumal, the man in demand

Confident of their victory in the state elections, local leaders and supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been making a beeline from across the state to meet the party’s CM-face Prem Kumar Dhumal. But he has been telling not to waste their time by travelling all the way to his native village Samirpur in Hamirpur district. “There is no need to do this. Why waste your time?” the former chief minister told a group of visitors recently. Bureaucrats and police officers considered close to the ex-CM have also started scouting for suitable postings for themselves.

(Contributed by Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Rajesh Moudgil, Hardik Anand and Gaurav Bisht)

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 12:34 IST