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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Chandigarh Confidential: High-Flier Rawat

From trying to broker a truce between Navjot Sidhu and the CM and lending an ear to disgruntled ministers to parrying the queries of a curious media, Rawat sure has his plate full.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 6, 2021 4:42:34 am
Capt Amarinder Sigh Harish Rawat Shiromani Akali Dal Aam Aadmi Party BJP, Indian express, indian express news, chandigarh newsFormer Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat

With Punjab Congress in turmoil for six months now, Harish Rawat, the state in-charge, has turned into a firefighter of sorts. From trying to broker a truce between Navjot Sidhu and the CM and lending an ear to disgruntled ministers to parrying the queries of a curious media, Rawat sure has his plate full. Add to it the coming elections in his own state and you know his task is cut out. That perhaps explains why the Punjab government makes it a point to fly him in a chopper from his hometown Dehradun. While the Opposition may fret and fume about this waste of public exchequer’s money, Congress is very clear: Mr Rawat must travel in comfort.

Supporting Capt Or Baiting Capt?
The Rath Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla is the latest entrant in the list of Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s ‘close advisers’. Aujla remained out in the cold  for a long time until PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu upped the ante against Captain in recent months, after which the latter started accommodating leaders like Aujla and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa.

Recently, Aujla was conspicuous by his presence at the show of strength organised by Partap Singh Bajwa in Batala with the tacit support of the CM.

While telling the gathering how things had changed for the better in the Punjab government, Aujla underlined the need for good advisers (to the CM).

“Punjab chief minister had announced an award of Rs 1 crore for the Olympic medal winners. But Tarn Taran MP Jasbir Singh Dimpa and I met the CM and advised him to raise the prize money to Rs 2.50 crore. The CM heeded our advice and increased the prize money within 15 minutes. So if the advisers are good, the  decisions will also be good.” Citing another example, he underlined how  Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majithia, the Congress leader from Majitha Assembly constituency, who was given the short shrift for  four years (of Congress government), was recently made chairman of PUNGRAIN, all thanks to the shrewd advice of the wise advisers.

But given the intrigue in Congress, many in the gathering were left wondering whether Aujla was taking potshots at CM’s aides or at Lalli Majithia. Lalli had contested against Akali chief Sukhbir Singh Badal’s brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia in 2017, and it was at a rally organised in his support that Rahul Gandhi had announced Amarinder as CM candidate. But after Congress victory, he had remained at the margins, prompting allegations of the government not taking a stand against the Badal-Majithia duo.

Defunct ACs In Punjab Bhawan

When troubles come, they come not in ones or twos but in hordes. This adage seem to be coming true for the beleaguered Punjab Congress. With a number of MLAs taking turns to camp in Delhi to meet senior party leaders in these confusing times, the general administration department of Punjab government is facing a piquant situation. Recently, its officials shot off a mail to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha that air conditioners of 25 rooms in Punjab Bhawan, the state government’s rest house in Delhi, have developed a snag, and it may take a year for these to get repaired. The communication states that only 24 rooms in Block B are now available for MLAs and their families. The GAD has said that the booking of rooms should be done only after keeping the availability of AC rooms in consideration. The communique has created a storm among Congress MLAs, who are questioning the timing of the snag and the inordinately long time sought for repair. One year! Really?

Sad, Bjp, Now Aap?

Ahead of Punjab polls 2022, former Punjab DGP Paramdeep Singh Gill has once again become active in the political circles in his home district Moga. Sources say this time around, he has set his sights on the Aam Aadmi Party. Earlier in 2012, the former top cop had contested from Moga on SAD ticket but had lost. Then in 2014, he joined BJP and worked for the saffron party in Jammu & Kashmir where he had also led anti-terrorism operations during his posting as a senior police officer. However, soon he left BJP too. The retired IPS officer is now expected to contest from Moga but it remains to be seen whether he will pick AAP or any other party. Regardless of the party, Gill has already started holding public meetings in Moga. The heat is on.

Ghar Wapsi Time For Wealthy Ex-Akalis

While BJP is on the lookout for disgruntled leaders of other parties to field them in the 2022 elections, its former ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, has begun reaching out to its own former leaders, who left the party in droves in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly election.

The party’s charm offensive is aimed at mostly deep-pocketed former leaders with none other than Akali supremo Sukhbir Badal said to be leading the charge. A former leader from Doaba, whose family has a flourishing business overseas, was among those approached by the party top brass recently. Sources close to the man, who is also an SGPC member, claim he was offered the post of party vice-president but refused to bite the bait. Once bitten twice shy, he rues that the party is remembering him only when it once again needs funds for the coming polls. “We have already burnt our fingers, we  spent millions on the party but got nothing except false promises.” Little does he know the hard truth: In politics, promises are generally made to be broken.

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