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Regional buzz | Virbhadra Singh young at 83 and Harsimrat no longer ‘favourite’ of PR dept

Keeping tabs on power politics in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K

punjab Updated: Jun 26, 2017 09:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh,Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh,Punjab governmnet
(Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)

Young at 83

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who turned 83 on Friday, celebrated his birthday with his supporters with fanfare at his private residence, Holly Lodge. He even danced to beats of pahari folk music along with his supporters. “Abhi toh mein jawan hoon. Abhi toh kai political baariyan khel sakta hoon mein (I am still young and fit enough to play many political innings),” the chief minister told his supporters. Vidya Stokes, who is the seniormost party leader at 86, also participated in pahari naati with Virbhadra’s wife Pratibha Singh.

Harsimrat no longer ‘favourite’ of PR dept

Gone are the days when Union food processing minister and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal was a “favourite” of public relations (PR) department of the Punjab government. Whenever she visited Bathinda, the district public relations officer (DPRO) used to send her schedule in advance followed by press releases on the events, quoting her speeches at length. But it is not the same after the change of guard in the state. On International Yoga Day on Wednesday, Harsimrat took part in an event held by the district administration and then talked to reporters. The DPRO sent out a press release, giving the central minister’s name only as someone who took part in the event along with other dignitaries, whereas deputy commissioner Diprava Lakra was mentioned as the main speaker who highlighted the importance of yoga.

Joke in Cong circles: Oppn went after wrong Rana

There is more humour than rancour in Congress after the just-concluded assembly session. What’s the joke? The Opposition went after the wrong Rana. The party feared the AAP and Akalis would gun for power minister Rana Gurjit Singh over the sand mining auctions controversy. But it was speaker Rana KP Singh who actually became the hot target of both the parties. Congress leaders quip the Opposition got confused on which Rana to take on - there are three. A certain Rana Gurmeet Sodhi must be thanking his stars.

Amid House ruckus, a ‘sane’ voice

In all the ruckus and bedlam in the state assembly last week, there was at least one MLA who talked sense. “What are we doing? Where are we heading? We are so violent, so intolerant. We are fight as if we are on the streets,” said Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh, who joined the Congress in the run-up to the assembly elections. “Elections are over. Let us sit together and talk for the people,” he suggested in his speech. The former hockey captain-turned-politician received applause from several members and a thumbs-up from finance minister Manpreet Badal. Local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu, who along with Pargat had formed Awaaz-e-Punjab last year before joining Congress, even walked up to his seat for a handshake. But Pargat, too, could not fully keep himself above party politics. Bashing his former party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, from which he was elected to the previous assembly, Pargat said: “Their functioning shocked me, Akal Takht (the highest temporal seats of Sikhs) was under their control and they used to manage hukamnamas (edicts)”.

Sidhu is always ready for Akali ­bashing

Known for his verbal attacks on the Akali leaders, Punjab local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Sidhu missed no chance to target them at a function held in Amritsar to observe birth anniversary of Master Tara Singh. “Had mein Vidhan Sabha vich jaana te mera Akalia naal arran nu ji karde .... laddan nu ji karde par ithe eho jahe Akalian (Master Tara Singh) agge sar jhukkan nu ji karde (When I go to the state assembly, I feel like confronting and fighting with Akalis. But here are Akalis to whom I feel like bowing my head in respect),” he said before hitting out at the Badal family. He said that no party is bad but people running them are bad at times. “One family has been running Akali Dal like their personal fiefdom”.

Haryana Cong meet turns into slugfest

The rift between former chief minister Bhupinder Hooda and Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar is no secret, but few expected the two to lock horns at a party meeting held in Chandigarh last week to discuss the organisational polls. When Hooda arrived at the meeting convened by former Union minister Pradeep Jain, Tanwar got up to greet him. The two later got into heated arguments. Other party leaders belonging to the two groups even physically pushed each other. The meeting also concluded on a distasteful note. The MLAs accompanying Hooda were requested to stay and have lunch, but preferred to take away the “meal packets” with themselves instead.

Shimla MC poll win: Real test begins for BJP now

The Bharatiya Janata Party may have made a comeback by wresting Shimla municipal corporation after a gap of 34 years, the victory was not easy. The party leaders had to work extra hard to keep their flock together. As soon as the results were declared, they immediately whisked away all 16 councillors in a bus to a four star hotel in Kurukshetra in Haryana, a state ruled by the BJP, for fear of poaching. But it was not easy. Total secrecy was maintained. Not even the family members of the winning councillors were informed about their whereabouts. And they wait anxiously in their homes to wait to celebrate the win.

Dhumal ‘ignores’ Nadda loyalist

Political rivalry between Union health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was at play both during and after the municipal polls in Shimla. Nadda hogged the limelight during the campaign by staying at the forefront, whereas Dhumal campaigned only for a day. After the BJP-backed candidate Kusum Sadret was elected mayor and Rakesh Sharma, a party rebel, as her deputy, Dhumal addressed the media. He credited his loyalist former minister Dr Rajiv Bindal and state unit president Satpal Singh Satti for the win. But he gave no credit to Shimla MLA Suresh Bhardwaj who was sitting beside him. The MLA is considered close to Nadda.

The case of missing ‘kursi’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came, addressed the rally and went away. But the Bharatiya Janata Party is still searching for the chair on which he sat at ‘Parivartan Rally’ in Shimla on April 27. The chair had gone missing after the rally. The party leaders even approached the police at that time, seeking its help to locate the chair. Now that the party has taken control of Shimla Municipal Corporation, its leaders have come up with a novel idea. They want to find the chair and place it in new mayor’s office.

(Contributed by Sachin Sharma, Sukhdeep Kaur, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Aseem Bassi, Rajesh Moudgil and Gaurav Bisht)

First Published: Jun 26, 2017 09:32 IST