Chandigarh Confidential: Discriminatory atta dal

A Punjab cabinet minister,attending the Budget Session,asked about the arrangements for journalists at the press gallery in the Assembly

Written by Express News Service | Published: July 2, 2012 12:05 am

A Punjab cabinet minister,attending the Budget Session,asked about the arrangements for journalists at the press gallery in the Assembly. While talking to the journalists he admitted that there were complaints about food not being very good and assured them that it will be improved in near future. However,just a few minutes later,the minister was taking two journalists to a high-end restaurant for lunch. The selected two were treated to better food,and this obviously did not go down well with those left out.

‘Scrap Police’ at work

“There is a Punjab Police,a Traffic Police and Scrap Police (the sand mafia) in the state’’,Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu said in the Assembly while referring to police and mafia excesses. He claimed that this ‘Scrap Police’ was charging Rs 500 per truck per entry into Mohali and stated that more than 250 trucks loaded with bricks,gravel and sand reach the township everyday. Sidhu also displayed the slips issued by the ‘Scrap Police’ charging Rs 500 per truck. “A truck load of sand now costs Rs 14,000 while gravel comes for Rs 35,000. How can a normal person even think to constructing a house,” he asked. However,those in the know of things said,Sidhu’s anger stems from other reasons. “The fight is for the control of the local truck union,which is now in control of an Akali leader even as Sidhu is the local MLA,” an insider said.

Waiting in vain

Former media adviser,Harcharan Bains,who was dressed in all white,was trying to find a seat in the Speaker’s gallery during the Assembly session. Bains has been out of power since last December when he resigned from the post of media adviser,after the model code of came in force ahead of the Assembly elections. He had expected to get back the post once the elections were over and the code was lifted,but till date he is running from pillar to post. He also attended a few meetings with Chief Minister and had been visiting him regularly,but till date could not get back in Badal’s good books.

Kang flexes muscles

The rather aggressive posturing of Congress MLA Jagmohan Kang within the Punjab Assembly is being seen as his attempt to prove himself worthy for the post of state party president. Kang,who by being virtue of Jat Sikh and former minister,is also in the queue of those eyeing the top job,took on the might of the ruling family by accusing them of running sand,transport,cable and liquor mafia in the state. When Industries Minister Anil Joshi hinted that he was raising the issue with his own business interests in mind,Kang asked him to prove it and sat in the well of the House. The stalemate could be ended only after the ruling alliance resorted to some back room diplomacy. Only histrionics may not be enough for Kang. There are many more working overtime to get into the Patiala Maharaja’s shoes.

Status symbol gone

The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGs) posted at the Punjab Police Headquarters are a very unhappy lot these days,as all that they do here is clerical work with no field postings. Now even the red lights atop their officials cars have been removed as per a new notification of the government. “We were not in field and the only status symbol we had was the red beacon light. Now even those have been taken away,” rued one such officer.

The Dog Story

A prolonged debate on the menace of stray dogs was held in the Punjab Assembly with varied suggestions being made. As the discussion stretched on for longer than expected,a section of the MLAs started becoming restless asking for approval to be accorded to the resolution so that other issues could also be discussed. To this one of the MLAs retorted,“Since discussion has started,let a policy be made. The dogs will not read the resolution and commit suicide. The ways to tackle them need to be discussed.”

Buck doesn’t stop here

The State Election Commissioner S S Brar,Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Rajat Aggarwal and Amritsar Commissioner of Police R P Mittal are pushing the balls away from their courts on the issue of controversy relating to Ward 3 in Amritsar in the recently held civic polls. Even as the repoll on two booths of the ward was held on June 15,and a report by Amritsar Police Commissioner ruled out any hacking at the EVMs after getting it verified from a “government engineer”,the result for the ward is yet to be declared. Ask Amritsar DC Rajat Aggarwal and Commissioner of Police R P Mittal about any likely date for declaration of results,both say they are waiting for the State Election Commission to take a call. State Election Commissioner,on his part,says that he has sought some clarifications on the report submitted to him. He,however,refuses to share when asked what type of “clarifications”. Interestingly,Aggarwal and Mittal deny having received any communiqué from state election commission.

Loyalties switched?

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s former Media Advisor Sunderpal Singh,has started seeing new things in life,of course,with a new perspective as well. Sunderpal,who was among the first appointments made by Hooda after he became the chief minister in March,2005,remained his media advisor till last month – a tenure of nearly seven years. While holding this crucial post,Sunderpal used to sing paeans to Hooda. The same Sunderpal,after resigning as media advisor,recently,and joining the newly launched Trinamool Congress’ regional wing,has now realised that the same state government,for which he used to work,had been “discriminating against areas in north Haryana.” Sunderpal’s statements in this context,implies that south-Haryana,including Rohtak,which is also the home district of the CM,has been favoured by the Hooda-led Congress government,in all these years. Those in the state government are wondering why Sunderpal never noticed such discriminations,when he enjoyed the powers and perks of being a top ranking government functionary.

Meeting add-on

When BJP leaders meet to discuss important internal matters of the party,they don’t only have their head and heart in mind,but also their stomach. At a meeting held at Chandigarh,on Saturday,the discussion on differences among the top BJP leaders of Himachal Pradesh was over within a couple of hours. But for the leaders it wasn’t over till the meals were partaken. All attempts to reach out the important leaders to know what transpired at the meeting failed to get much response from those with empty tummies. The leaders had presumably,handed over their personal mobile sets to hangers-on,who parroted just one line – “the meeting is yet not over”. Officially,for the BJP leadership,the meeting got over only around midnight – only after the last crumb,had been consumed.

Taken for a ride

Already facing flak for singing a song in the House during Zero Hour,Congress’s Bhadaur MLA Mohd Sadique made another blunder when he,during his visit to Ludhiana,said,“I am a first-timer and was not aware that Zero Hour is only for discussing public issues.” Sadique indeed needs a refresher course on how the business is conducted in the House. He repeatedly insisted that “I sang a song on the request by the CM even when he with more than 40 years of experience must know as to what type of requests can be floated in the Assembly.” He realised soon after he had finished singing that he had been taken for a ride by the chief minister.

Love you
Wimbledon!

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s love for the games and tennis in particular needs no evidence to prove. So much so that Hooda,given a choice,would prefer his morning session of tennis over the breakfast. He has recently announced that he would go to London to cheer the players of the country. Last time Haryana’s players performance at Olympics was par excellence. But prior to that Hooda is slated to visit Wimbledon-2012 at All England Club. Ah! No need for state’s austerity measures reminder,Hooda is going on a personal trip.

testing ‘gandhigiri’

They are political adversaries and retain the same seats in the House. But the just concluded Budget session of the Punjab Assembly witnessed some interesting change in strategies of both the ruling and the Opposition benches. The most striking of them all was Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal giving up his subtle humour to relish satirical digs — almost bordering on ridicule — at members of Congress. From asking “rarely seen” state Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh for a photograph,telling Rana Gurmeet Sodhi to keep his advices to himself “since they did no good to those who heeded them”,to asking Congress MLA Mohd Sadique to sing,Badal did it all tongue firmly in cheek. Whatever he left unsaid was duly completed by Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia through press statements and briefings. This happened even as Leader of Opposition,Sunil Jakhar,faced a hard time convincing his partymen to give up confrontational attitude of staging walkouts. The Congressmen are now contending that it was not the best time to practice Gandhigiri.

No sparing the rod

The grand old man of Punjab,with an experience of 50 years,Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal did not even spare his son and Deputy Chief Minister,Sukhbir Singh Badal,during the Assembly session. While replying to allegations of vendetta politics,Badal quipped: “I am a soft person,so I do not say anything to anyone. But Sukhbir is hot blooded,I cannot say anything about him.” Sukhbir,however,was not present in the House as he is with his family in the USA. Badal also took a dig at Chief Parliamentary Secretary Virsa Singh Valhota. “Virsa tries to force me to go for vendetta,but I put my foot down,” Badal said even as the CPS could do little but look towards the CM with folded hands.

Rubbing it in

Former Chief Minister and Congress MLA Rajinder Kaur Bhattal interrupted Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the Assembly claiming that the SAD-BJP government has done nothing regarding two “false cases” brought to its notice by her party. Instead of replying to the query,Badal took a dig at Bhattal on her replacement as CLP leader saying,“maximum vendetta has been done against you (by your party).” “Why are you (Bhattal) sitting here? Try to approach your party to convince it to give you some post’,” Badal said rubbing salt on her wounds.

Not his wishes

“Rana Sodhi ji,you are our main adviser and well wisher,” Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said in the Assembly. “You are Capt Amarinder’s adviser and the Congress lost the last election. You have been also giving us advice on Congress and many thanks for it… I will also put your photo in my drawing room besides Capt Amarinder’s,as due to him I could become the chief minister again,” Badal said. He also told Sodhi that alleged false cases registered against him and his son Hira Sodhi have been cancelled. Rana could only mumble something inaudible.

Mein badal to nahin

“I am not that badal (cloud) which will shower rain and fill up the rivers. I am just Badal by surname,” Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said with a straight face in the Assembly while replying to queries on power shortage. The Congress members were demanding minimum eight hour uninterrupted power supply to farmers. Badal said that the weather conditions “are not as per our desires and wishes” and said the “Congress could not even produce enough power to light a bulb during their tenure.”

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