August 23, 2021 10:50:48 am
Man proposes and God disposes. No one knows this adage better than former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar and general secretary-cum-in charge Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu. The latter spent days, no months, poring over various blueprints of the new Punjab Congress headquarters. Both took great pride in the changes they wrought in the building to bring it up to date with the times, They were just about getting ready to enjoy the fruits of their labour when a higher power intervened. The Congress president named Navjot Singh Sidhu as the PPCC chief, who in turn appointed his aide Pargat Singh as the general secretary-cum-in charge. These days, it’s these two who are enjoying the comforts of the newly refurbished bhawan, while Jakhar and Sandhu internalise the importance of ‘nishakaam sewa’.
Badal faces the questioning voter
Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who launched the ‘Gall Punjab di’ campaign with a 100-day yatra last week, is seeing a new kind of voter. One who is refusing to melt. Badal, who likes to woo crowds with impressive promises, received a rude jolt when, instead of listening in rapt attention to his rhetoric, many farmers decided to question him. The big lesson that the farm unions seem to have driven home to their cadre is simple: “You are the voter, ask tough questions. Don’t fold hands in front of politicians, let them do that.’’ Looks like Punjab is headed for a very interesting campaign.
Ludhiana has a new contender
Ahead of Punjab polls 2022, all eyes in Ludhiana are on Mamta Ashu, the better half of Cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu. This Congress councillor is spreading her wings beyond her constituency, much to the consternation of her peers. Besides taking a keen interest in development projects in Ludhiana West, her husband’s constituency, she is also unofficially leading the district Covid vaccination programme. Need any info on the vaccination programme? Just dial Mamta, and she will give you the lowdown. While the lady is in an overdrive, her slow-moving colleagues in Congress are squirming. She is angling for an Assembly seat, they fume, Many are even chiding her for her ‘’un-councillor like behaviour’’ and tall aspirations. But the lady doesn’t care, nor do the people benefiting from her work.
There was much excitement in Mohali when the Vigilance Bureau arrested former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini last Wednesday evening. Some in the bureau got so carried away that they continued to share his photos behind bars late into the night. The next day he was produced in a packed district court. Besides the media, the visitors included a retired bureaucrat who was arrested by Saini around 17 years ago. When asked about the purpose of his visit, he said he was picked up on the same date by the former DGP, and just wanted to see him in the court.
Wanted: Disgruntled candidates
With the BJP announcing its decision to contest on all the 117 Assembly seats in the 2022 elections, local leaders have their task cut out. A veteran pointed out that ramping up from 23 candidates that it’s been fielding for over two decades under the SAD-BJP alliance, to 117 is not going to be a cakewalk. But they have a strategy. They are now looking for seasoned but disgruntled leaders from other parties, including SAD, Congress and BSP, who will be given these tickets with much fanfare. But there is one big hitch: the prevailing boycott by farm unions. No one, not even an utterly unhappy leader, is likely to risk being chased by farmers.
No booth for BJP
No matter how strong the Centre’s defence, the farm laws continue to be the BJP’s bugbear in Punjab. Former BJP MLA Sukhpal Singh Nannu, whose family has been associated with the party for 54 years, quit it last week over these laws. The man, who used to see a bright future for the saffron party till not very long ago, is now convinced the party will not be able to win even a single rural booth in the 2022 Assembly polls. Others have more immediate concerns. As one local BJP leader pointed out, “We have to fend for our businesses, the boycott by farmers hurts.’’
Dope test for SHOs
Sukhpal Bhullar, Congress MLA from Khemkaran, is sniffing trouble in police thanas these days. That is why he has urged the Punjab government to conduct dope tests on SHOs manning police stations. It seems Bhullar called up a police officer and found him slurring. “He appeared to be drunk,’’ Bhullar told a group of mediapersons while demanding the dope test. The legislator was also sore with the Tarn Taran SSP for not readily issuing arm licences readily. “The SSP has introduced many terms and conditions, he says the owner should install CCTV camera at home. Why should people waste money on CCTVs?” raged the MLA. Wonder if he thinks lavishing money on expensive weapons is useful.
Sita, Geeta same same
What is in a name, the bard had asked. A lot, if you go by Jind BJP MLA Krishan Midha, who told the Haryana Assembly about the complications faced by Punjabi women whose names were changed after marriage. When Haryana Minister of Women and Child Development Kamlesh Dhanda said the government wasn’t aware of this practice, Midha gave an instance, “For example, the pandit changes a girl’s name to Geeta from Sita after marriage. In her sasural, everybody calls her Geeta but in her certificates, she still remains Sita. This creates several complications.’’ Midha pleaded that there should be some mechanism whereby these women should have the liberty to be named Sita, alias Geeta, in papers so that they don’t face any problems in getting documents such as a passport.” Alas, Dhanda didn’t seem convinced and informed the Assembly that there was no such proposal under consideration by the government. Well, there is a lot in a name, especially when you have two.
P for police, p for panic
The flurry of protests by farmers, teachers and political parties is beginning to take a toll on the peace-loving Chandigarh Police. Such is their hurry to share the latest inputs about these sloganeering hordes that their cops often end up broadcasting messages in wrong groups. Then the newly appointed PRO DSP Ram Gopal, who also handles the CID wing, deletes these reports with a sheepish ‘sorry’. The other day, journos were treated to a very khaki articulation of Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s protest march to Haryana Vidhan Sabha by the DSP. It was clear that the information was meant for senior officers. A well-wisher informed the DSP who was quick to delete the details. Last we heard, he was getting his spectacles changed.
In her invisible presence
Even though MP Kirron Kher is conspicuous by her long absence from the city due to health issues, the Chandigarh Administration seems intent on ensuring her presence, on plaques, if not in person. So, the plaque at the inauguration of the public bike sharing project stated ‘’in the presence of Member of Parliament Kirron Kher’’. It was ditto at the inauguration ceremony of the M Arch block at Chandigarh College of Architecture by the UT Administrator. Well, either the administration was expecting her or there are unseen, virtual forces at work. They can see her, we can’t.
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