Regional buzz: The ‘pakoda’ protest and Badal vs Badal
Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir.punjab Updated: Feb 12, 2018 12:54 IST
The last few days in Haryana were marked by volunteers of opposition parties selling ‘pakodas’ on roadside stalls to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘pakoda’ metaphor. In one such protest, supporters of the Indian National Students Organisation (INSO), the student wing of the INLD, sold ‘pakodas’ in Bahadurgarh. To take their protest further, they reached local BJP MLA Naresh Kaushik’s office and started selling ‘pakodas’. To everyone’s surprise, the BJP MLA quickly turned the tables on them and bought pakodas for Rs 500 and started eating in front of them. Before going back inside, Kaushik advised the protesters not to think of any profession as small.
Badal vs Badal
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, the two estranged cousins, took potshots at each other on their home turf, Bathinda, last week. Addressing the ‘pol khol’ rally at Bhai Rupa village on Friday, Sukhbir described Manpreet as the “cause of troubles” for any government. “When Manpreet was in our party, development could not take place during the SAD-BJP government. Once Manpreet was out, the state witnessed development,” he said, advising (Congress chief minister) Amarinder Singh to get rid of him. Manpreet, who was in Bathinda on Saturday, targeted the former deputy chief minister. Asked about the SAD chief’s comments, he said that misgovernance and corruption of the previous SAD-BJP government ruined the state financially. He challenged Sukhbir to a debate on the state finances, politics and corruption of the previous Akali government. “Let Sukhbir speak for 45 minutes. I will speak for just 15 minutes,” he said. Charges, counter charges and debate, all in the family.
Mann’s one-liners laced with sarcasm
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member of Parliament from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann has been maintaining a rather low profile for some time. But whenever the stand-up comedian-turned-politician speaks, his speeches are laced with sarcasm. During the first half of the budget session, he spoke for not more than 20 minutes to speak, but hit out at the BJP and Congress governments at the Centre and in Punjab with his razor sharp one-liners on issues ranging from remunerative prices for crops and goods and services tax (GST) to jobs and free smart phones. “Digital India bol kar umeed jaga di desh ke naujawanon mein, desh ko uljha rakha hai Khiljion, Tipu Sultanon mein, sarkar ki yojanaon ka laabh vyakti kuch khas le rahe hain, sanyansi vyapar kar rahe hain, vyapari sanyas le rahe hain,” he said, reciting a short poem on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll promise of “acche din”. As usual, the video clip of his speech went viral on social media.
It is a subject close to his heart. However, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal gave the two-day international conference on “Governance for the Margins” held by the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC) in Chandigarh a miss. Manpreet was invited as a key speaker. He called up the organisers to show up for “five minutes”, saying he got busy in some other function in Bathinda. They turned down the offer. Experts and economists from across the country took part in the discussion with focus on the problems of the agrarian community in the state and were sympathetic towards their issues.
Sidhu’s changing colours
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu keeps everyone guessing. The mercurial minister had along with 15 councillors boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected members of the Amritsar municipal corporation to show resentment at not being consulted in selection of the city mayor. However, there seems to have been a change of heart since. First, he showed “brotherly love” with newly elected mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu during an event in the city. Then, he attended the first meeting of the House on Friday and occupied the main chair, flanked by Rintu, who requested him to sit on dais, and municipal commissioner Sonali Giri. Sidhu also made announcements worth crore of rupees for the civic body. The next day, the minister was seen accompanying chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh during his visit to the city. No hard feelings now?
Shah event: Oppn gets fresh ammo
The bike rally planned by the BJP during its national president Amit Shah’s visit to Jind has given fresh ammunition to opposition parties. While INLD leader Abhay Chautala announced to “greet’’ Shah with black flags and black balloons, Congress MP Deepender Hooda advised’’ Shah to ride a bullock cart because of the high fuel prices. All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) president Yashpal Malik has threatened to block the rally with 50,000 tractor trailers. Aam Aadmi Party’s state unit president Naveen Jaihind wants to gift “pakodas’’ to Shah equal to his (Shah’s) weight to symbolically take a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that even selling “pakodas” could get a person good money.
Bike rally: MLAs’ have their task cut
Leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have pulled out all the stops for their national president Amit Shah’s rally in Jind, working overtime to mobilise 1 lakh motorcycles. The party MLAs have been tasked with arranging 1,111 motorcycles each from their assembly segments for the bike rally. Thanesar MLA Subhash Sudha has declared that his supporters would go to the rally on 1,111 motorcycles. If the party workers are to be believed, each participating biker would be given a helmet and fuel for the rally
Dhumal-Jai Ram bonhomie
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was the party’s chief ministerial face but lost, are showing great bonhomie. During the CM’s maiden visit to Hamirpur, Dhumal welcomed him with a bouquet of flowers. After his defeat, Dhumal has been attending public functions in his long-time bastion, but was by Jai Ram’s side at Gandhi chowk. All Jai Ram did was shower praise on Dhumal, reminding the people how he had worked for strengthening the party. Already, there is talk in political circles that the BJP may field Dhumal from Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat, currently represented by his son Anurag Thakur.
For HP ministers, celebration mode is still on
The Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government, which took over the reins of the state on December 27, has still not come out of celebratory mode. The ministers continue spend more time in attending felicitation functions in their constituencies than in their offices or discussing policies and programmes. And, most of them continue to upload their pictures with garlands and bouquets on social media.
(Contributed by Sachin Sharma, Navneet Sharma, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Surjit Singh, Hardik Anand, Rajesh Moudgil, Neeraj Mohan and Gaurav Bisht)
First Published: Feb 12, 2018 12:54 IST