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Chandigarh confidential: The suitable ‘boy’

Tough times call for strange solutions. As it awaits a rejig by the party high command post a series of poll debacles,Punjab Congress leaders are busy doing their own calculations.

Written by Express News Service |
July 23, 2012 1:20:46 am

The suitable ‘boy’

Tough times call for strange solutions. As it awaits a rejig by the party high command post a series of poll debacles,Punjab Congress leaders are busy doing their own calculations. With the departure of general secretary in-charge of Punjab,Gulchain Singh Charak,looking imminent whenever the AICC revamp takes place,one of the ideas being mooted is replacing him with state president Captain Amarinder Singh. This way the Captain — who is not too keen on having a working president and the high command is yet to hint at a suitable replacement — will still call the shots without having to do the running around. After all,you can’t separate royalty from a ‘maharaja’ — not after 70 years.

Cong’s love for ‘experiment’

Blame it on the ‘adventurous streak’ of the Congress. The party’s poor show at the Dasuya bypoll has not dampened its spirit. It is rather upbeat at the outcome of its “rock-bottom” experiment. Fielding a reluctant and unpopular Arun Dogra seems to be part of the strategy to see how bad can it get. Dogra polling nearly 30,000 votes seems to have convinced Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh’s think-tank that if a candidate like Dogra and circumstances like these can fetch nearly 30,000 votes,the road to the Lok Sabha polls is going to be far more smoother. When it can’t get any worse,it only gets better.

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Asli VIP kaun?

A Haryanvi,dressed in his typical white kurta pyjama and a traditional white scarf,was stopped from entering the lift meant for senior officials and other VIPs at the Haryana Civil Secretariat. The man,however,felt extremely offended and barged into the lift. When asked to step out by the lift operator — who said that the lift was meant for VIPs — the man fumed and told the operator that there is no bigger VIP than him,because he is the voter. Further lashing out at the operator,the man added that these so-called VIPs keep roaming in his village and gathering dust from morning till evening,begging for votes,during polls. The man said: “Arrey ye mantri VIP nahi,ye to yahan kursi pe baith ke VIP ban jaate hain. Mahre gamma mein saara din mitti khave hain,subah se shaam tak,vote maang maang ke,jab bhi election aave hai. Mahre se bada VIP koi na hai yahan pe; vote dali hai; lift to yahi istemaal karunga (These ministers are not VIPs. They become VIPs after they hold offices in the Secretariat. They keep requesting us for votes during polls. There is no bigger VIP than me,I have cast my vote and will use this lift only).” After a few minutes of argument,the poor lift operator had no choice but to take the man to the desired level-IV of the Secretariat.

Old memories

During a press meet after the recent Haryana cabinet meeting,Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was asked to explain his pictures where he was seen eating paanipoori in Shimla and the way the Opposition had reacted. However,using his ‘predictable humour’,Hooda replied: “There are some old memories attached to that place. Thus,had a good time there.” Shunning any further speculations on his reply,Hooda added that as his father had an accommodation in Shimla,he used to frequent the place during summers and thus,has old memories attached to the area.

‘Saab meeting Vich Ne’

Punjab government departments may be provide different services but have one thing in common — whenever the head of the departments are contacted and one wants to the speak to the bosses,more often than not,the reply is “Saab meeting vich ne (Sir is in a meeting)”. Information gathered from various offices — from Chandigarh to the field officers — has revealed that officers generally do not get more than two working days on an average to complete their official work. The rest of days,they are busy in “meetings”. Field officers loathe that their seniors have even thrown the recent instructions of the chief secretary into the dustbin,which specify that meetings should be held on Mondays and Fridays with Tuesdays,Wednesdays and Thursdays kept for meeting the public. An officer even modified a popular rhyme to suit the situation — “Johnny-Johnny Yes Papa,doing work no Papa. Open your mouth no Papa,in a meeting,Yes Papa.”

Smart move

It was a calculated move by former Punjab minister Bibi Jagir Kaur’s advisers to apply for bail only after the fate of all the co-accused in the case was decided. The move,which was stoutly objected to by Bibi’s supporters,has proved to be fruitful. For,after the co-accused received bail from the high court,Bibi’s lawyers applied for her bail. Let alone the merits of the case,the most significant ground being relied upon by her counsels at the time of demanding bail was that the remaining co-accused have been released on bail and that Bibi should not be discriminated against just because she is a politician.

Not a good idea,sirji

Haryana Power Minister Captain Ajay Singh Yadav surprised many when he suddenly raised his voice as Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda presented the “unique land pooling scheme”. What Yadav did was unique as it is not that every cabinet witnesses such scene. “It is good,the government has finally decided to introduce this scheme that I had been asking for the several months. It is a welcome step but what will happen to those farmers whose land is currently under acquisition? Won’t it be an injustice to them or is it better to include them as well under the scheme?” Yadav asked. But his hope for a favourable response went in vain. And why it should not be? Politics is the game of credit and who will share it with anybody? Hence,the result was nothing but silence,leaving Yadav to later release a welcome statement. “It was not a good idea sirji (to raise it this way),” somebody had quipped in Yadav’s ear,but it was quite late by then.

Majithia’s goodwill gesture

In a rare goodwill gesture by Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia towards the MLAs of the Congress,Majithia asked the Amritsar police to merely issue a warning to Parmod Arora — father-in-law of the daughter of Congress MLA from Nawanshahr,Guriqbal Kaur — for using the MLA sticker meant for Kaur on his vehicle in violation of rules. A case of cheating was registered against Arora on July 18 after he was found to be travelling in a vehicle with a scanned copy of MLA sticker that was “forged”. A former Congress MLA from Amritsar,Harjinder Singh Thekedar,called up Majithia pleading that it was a minor case and requested him to tell the police not to take any action against the Kaur’s relative. Majithia obliged. Politicians are after all bhai-bhai.

Multiple charges

Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari seems to be the most efficient officer in the books of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. After giving him the additional charge as chief administrator of Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) on Friday,he also got the charge of chief administrator of Ludhiana Improvement Trust. Tiwari himself feels that he will not be able to justify his work by having three charges at one go. For some it is a problem of plenty.

Shooting star

To check absenteeism among teachers and improve the academic performance of government schools,the Punjab government has decided to install CCTV cameras in all higher and senior secondary schools. Education minister Sikander Singh Maluka has said: “In the first phase,these cameras will be installed in higher and secondary schools,while in subsequent phases,we will put up these cameras in primary schools.” Perhaps he is not aware that there is hardly any infrastructure in these schools and the children sit on the ground,the roofs are leaking and in some schools,the students even have to sit outside under trees. Wonder where will they put up the cameras…

Welcome breaks

The lunch courtesy is back in the Secretariat after a lull. Whenever Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is at the Punjab Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh around noon,every one — including politicians,officers and journalists — who are there are treated with a lavish vegetarian lunch at the Chief Minister’s Office. This was not happening for the last few months,as Sukhbir was away first due to the Assembly elections and then his foreign tours.

Catch me if you can

Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini is known for his bravery as a terrorist buster but of late,he has carved a niche for himself for his inaccessibility. Only this time,someone seems to have taken the issue to the deputy chief minister. The result: Sukhbir Singh Badal was heard telling Saini to take calls and be responsive to those trying to see him. Sukhbir even asked him to be in his office every day from 3 to 5 pm and meet people. Isn’t the deputy chief minister asking too much from someone who takes pride in making his own rules?

Falling to rise

Some Punjab babus seem to have reached the end of their patience in waiting for a posting of their choice. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal confided in a close friend how some babus recently went to the extent of touching his feet to get a post of their choice. It was most embarrassing,said Sukhbir to his friend. Whatever happened to the snooty Punjab bureaucracy’s self respect,one wonders.

It is never enough

The retired PCS officers who were re-employed by the state government,as there were hardly any officers left for government work,are now a perturbed lot with the induction of around 150 PCS officers and their posting orders issued. These officers now think that they may be told by to to leave any day,thus ending their extended stay. While a few are a contended lot,as they are of the view that they got an opportunity to serve for a little more than three years after retirement,but some others are still looking for more such “opportunities”.

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