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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Chandigarh Confidential: The Sekhwan Express

Commenting on former Akali leader Sewa Singh Sekhwan’s entry into Aam Aadmi Party in the presence of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Majithia said given the speed at which Sekhwan is shifting political loyalties, the upcoming bullet train should be named the Sekhwan Express.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 12, 2021 6:15:50 pm
sewa singh sekhwan, manjithia, Manpreet Singh Badal, chandigarh confidential, indian expressSewa Singh Sekhwan. (Photo: Facebook @Sewa Singh Sekhwan)

Most people don’t give them the credit but our politicians sure have a wacky sense of humour. Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia may look forbidding but he has quite a way with words. Commenting on former Akali leader Sewa Singh Sekhwan’s entry into Aam Aadmi Party in the presence of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Majithia said given the speed at which Sekhwan is shifting political loyalties, the upcoming bullet train should be named the Sekhwan Express. “Eni teji naal oh party vich aunde te jaande ne pata hi nahi lagda kadon [gaddi vich] charh gaye (Such is his speed of shifting parties that you never come to know when he has boarded a new one),” he quipped as the assembled media persons burst into laughter. Wonder what Sekhwan has to say.

Shoot and scoot

Boycotted by farmer union leaders, these are trying times for BJP leaders in Punjab. Of late, party leaders of Doaba have started calling on their friends and relatives in villages to create an impression that all is well in the field. Every visit is followed by a flurry of photos on the social media. Even though these are social visits, they pose with party flags against the village backdrop, perhaps to dispel the impression that they are not allowed entry in villages.

But in reality, these are covert operations in which the photos with the BJP flag are done in a hurry, away from the curious eyes of alert farners. An insider said their biggest fear is of getting caught while doing this photo shoot. “The mere thought makes me break into a sweat,” confessed a small time leader. The other day when a Jalandhar BJP leader was visitIng a village in Adampur assembly segment, his host told him to wrap up the photo shoot fast and scoot. The memory of leaders being chased by hordes of farmers is all too fresh in the minds of BJP cadre. So while leaders are trying hard to create this illusion of being welcome in villages, the workers are exercising caution. Better safe than sorry.

The political pariah

It is not just farmer unions who have outcast BJP leaders in Punjab, even election management, PR and social media handlers are keeping them at an arm’s distance. The agencies are currently focusing on SAD, Congress and AAP candidates in the state for obvious reasons. As the owner of a leading agency put it, “Working so hard for months for someone who doesn’t have a chance to win is stupidity, plus it brings a bad name to the company. As of now, we aren’t touching BJP leaders and ticket aspirants with a barge pole.”

It’s advantage farmers

Speaking of farmers, never have their unions enjoyed so much clout. With elections around the corner, representatives of all political parties of the state excepting the BJP, made a beeline for an audience with the leaders last Friday. While Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu waited for an hour, there were others who had to cool their heels much longer. How the tables have turned. Not too long ago, these very union leaders used to gripe about politicians refusing to give them an appointment. Last heard, Sangrur villagers have formed WhatsApp groups to keep politicians at bay.

The mystery CD

The Aam Adami Party (AAP) circles are all agog with talk of a mystery CD. It started when some Punjabi webportals ran a story last week, quoting sources to say that the AAP high command had received an embarrassing video about a claimant for the party’s CM face in the coming polls. Interestingly, even as the political grapevine is filled with conjectures about the CD and the person in it, the party has not cared to deny the existence of any such video.
In fact, supporters of party supremo Arvind Kejriwal and state party leader Bhagwant Mann have been trading charges over the alleged CD and its origins. Mann’s fans say they smell a conspiracy in this affair.

Then there are those who say there is no CD and it’s just an attempt to put down the clamour in the party to announce a CM candidate. Old-timers remember how in the runup to the 2017 assembly polls, the party had expelled its then Punjab incharge Sucha Singh Chhotepur after charges of a CD allegedly showing him accepting party funds. Strangely, no such CD was released to public despite Chhotepur repeatedly asking for it.

Delayed reaction

Every political action begets an equal or disproportionate reaction. From the rival parties. That explains why the media circles are abuzz with press statements these days. But what sets one party apart from the other is its reaction time. Take the case of Aam Aadmi Party. It likes to take its time to come up with a response. That explains why it’s almost always a day late.

Manpreet Singh Badal Manpreet Singh Badal. (Twitter: @MSBADAL)

Manpreet’s chai pe charcha

With the assembly polls only a few months away, the ministers in the Congress Cabinet have begun to step out of the comfort of their houses in Chandigarh. They are not only being seen but also heard and felt in their constituencies. Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who, truth be told, used to visit his constituency Bathinda in the past too, is now rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi. On Friday, he was spotted enjoying a cup of tea at Arjun tea stall, a popular stall at the Tinkona chowk. The tiny shop is always brimful with customers doing chai pe charcha. Last Friday’s discussion was dominated by Punjab’s finance minister, who stopped at the stall for a steaming cuppa over conversation. Needless to say, the regulars went back home a lot wiser with some selfies on the side.

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