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Regional buzz: Sidhuism goes on, Rana Gurjit’s twin attack and Bhunder’s praises

Punjab local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had maintained total silence about his political moves after quitting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year, gleefully talks about them now.

punjab Updated: Sep 04, 2017 11:37 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Sidhuism,Navjot Singh Sidhu,Rana Gurjit
“PM (Narendra) Modi has picked up an intelligent Sikh. We are political people who have risen after long struggle. But people like Puri have lots of intelligence,” said Bhunder. (Illustration: Daljeet Kaur Sandhu)

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

Bhunder all praises for Puri

Retired career diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri is among the nine new faces inducted into the Union cabinet. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder gave the thumbs up to the decorated diplomat’s selection. “PM (Narendra) Modi has picked up an intelligent Sikh. We are political people who have risen after long struggle. But people like Puri have lots of intelligence,” said Bhunder in an impromptu reaction. The SAD, according to him, was not expecting anyone from the party to be inducted into the cabinet this time.

Sidhuism goes on

Punjab local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had maintained total silence about his political moves after quitting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year, gleefully talks about them now. The other day, the minister, while referring to his talks with the AAP top brass at that time, said that (AAP national convener Arvind) Kejriwal did not want him – a five-time MP – to contest the assembly elections in the state. “An AAP leader (who is now MLA) even complimented me later for not falling for his (Kejriwal’s) smooth talk,” he said. Sidhu had formed his own outfit, Awaaz-e-Punjab, after quitting the BJP and held a few rounds of discussions with Kejriwal, but they hit a dead-end. And he joined the Congress – just the right choice, in hindsight.

Mohindra caught on wrong foot

When Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra did a flip-flop on his demand for monetary assistance to families of Dera Sacha Sauda followers killed in violence triggered by the sect head’s conviction, his aides started calling up newspapers. They requested everyone not to publish the statement. The alibi was that the statement was released without approval. But that was not the case. The scribes were alerted about the minister’s statement in advance and it was mailed after clearance at multiple levels. A seasoned politician, Mohindra’s statement and the back flip on a “sensitive” issue has left everyone baffled.

Rana Gurjit’s twin attack

‘Divide and rule’ is an old political stratagem. But politicians are never shy of using the tactic. Power minister Rana Gurjit Singh tried it last week after leader of opposition in Punjab assembly Sukhpal Khaira raked up the cases against chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Khaira asked the Amarinder to quit the post or hand over investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation, announcing to hold a protest outside the CM’s residence. Though the CM kept quiet, Rana Gurjit responded by accusing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader of “political opportunism” and “cheap publicity gimmicks”. Besides lashing out at Khaira, the minister tried to draw AAP state president and MP Bhagwant Mann into it. “Khaira is trying to grab the role and space of his party’s state president,” Rana Gurjit said. That Rana Gurjit and Mann aren’t the best of friends is no secret. The MP hasn’t fallen for the ruse however.

When Bittu, his men gave jitters to airport officials

The Sahnewal domestic airport was meant to be a high security zone. But the presence of Congress MP from Ludhiana Ravneet Bittu and his supporters at the aircraft parking apron gave jitters to the airport authorities as flights resumed from Ludhiana to Delhi on Saturday. “How I wish the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF, which guards the airports) was here. They would not have let anyone in. It is the Punjab police. They bow before the MP and have allowed all and sundry inside,” an airport official murmured to his colleagues.

Haryana BJP leaders’ foot-in-mouth disease

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been often accused by the opposition parties of letting his party’s central leadership run the state through remote control. The chief minister’s aides have been denying this. But BJP general secretary in-charge of Haryana Anil Jain, who does not hold any position in the state government, provided ample ammunition to rival parties when he, in an interview to a newspaper, talked about being in “direct contact with all the senior officers and the chief minister” during the recent dera crisis. “I was talking to them regularly,” he said, blurring the line between the government and the party leadership. The party leader’s boast has become a talking point in the state circles with many raising the issue of erosion of the CM’s authority. Another example of foot-in-mouth disease afflicting the ruling party leaders!

Kem cho: Hooda to Modi

Congress leader and ex-CM Bhupinder Hooda showed his witty side to scribes at a press conference in Chandigarh last week when they tried to corner him with a volley of questions on his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “You want to know what we talked about. We said to each other kem chho (how are you?) and saru chhe (all is good). And that was it. The meeting lasted just this long,” he said, calling it nothing more than just a chance meeting. “Rest is media’s art. Even our photo was old when I as the chief minister had met him,” he quipped leaving mediapersons in laughter.

Khattar OSD loves sangat darshan

Haryana CM ML Khattar had appointed several officers on special duty (OSDs). One of them has been given the task of attending to problems of people of his Karnal assembly constituency. The appointment of Amrinder Singh, who belongs to Uttar Pradesh, as Karnal OSD had drawn flak since he is an “outsider”, but now the people have started referring to him as “officer for sangat darshan”. Amrinder holds “sangat darshan” twice a week, but the officers do not listen to him. Those who come with grievances have to return disappointed. The number of visitors has been dwindling.

Dhumal Jr, Vikramaditya lying low

With just weeks to go for the state assembly polls, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his bête noire and ex-CM Prem Kumar Dhumal are at the forefront, locking horns over the law and order. But their sons – Himachal Youth Congress chief Vikramaditya and Arun Dhumal – are suddenly lying low. Both Vikramaditya and Arun, who usually flanked their fathers during the poll campaigning and helped them strategise, are busy consolidating their positions. Vikramaditya is working in Shimla rural constituency of his father. Dhumal junior is also touching base with the electors in his father’s bastion, Hamirpur, even as speculations are rife about him entering the fray this time.

Look who’s back on FB

After lying low for quite some time, Congress legislator Neeraj Bharti is back on social media. The chief parliamentary secretary has reactivated his Facebook account. As anticipated, barbs are flying thick and past. Bharti, in a post, hit out at Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha chief Poonam Mahajan, taking digs at her family. What followed was a no holds-barred battle between Bharti and BJP supporters – in short, abuses and counter abuses. The BJP brigade posted memes to target him, whereas Bharti responded with one-liners aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and other leaders.

Satti left in a fix

As the assembly polls draw closer, politicians are in for tough times. During a visit to his Una assembly constituency recently, Himachal BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti found himself in a sticky situation when people started asking him, where he was during the past five years. As he struggled to respond to the unexpected barrage of questions, a youth asked the BJP state president to list the achievements for which he wants their votes.

(Contribued by Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Aneesha Sareen Kumar, Rajesh Moudgil, Neeraj Mohan, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)

First Published: Sep 04, 2017 11:36 IST