Chandigarh confidential

Punjab’s political leaders are getting image conscious.

Written by Express News Service | Updated: April 16, 2014 4:12:18 pm

Shedding weight

Punjab’s political leaders are getting image conscious. The media advisor of Pratap Singh Bajwa,the newly state Congress chief,specially sent his “latest” photograph to newspapers to be used with his statements. Bajwa who had a little bit of grey in his beard earlier,made sure it was not visible. He also acquired a new portfolio,much different from his former plump self. Sukhbir Badal,who too had put on some weight after the Moga bypolls,is also trying to shed some. His friends say he has lost 7 kilos in 15 days— a sharp decline indeed!

God fearing?

The Punjab DGP,Sumedh Singh Saini,is a religious man. He fears God and no one else. His close friends revealed that the DGP spent a whole month invoking the powers of Goddess Durga organising a havan at the Mansa Devi temple to ensure that a certain High Court order related to his appointment goes in his favour!

A shameful ‘record’

The surreptitiously recorded conversation of Punjab Police officials pressurising the Tarn Taran girl,who was assaulted in public by policemen on March 3, to withdraw her complaint may spell serious trouble for them. The recording,done by her brother,will be produced in the Supreme Court next week. The family claims that they have in their possession the recordings of the Senior Superintendent of Police,Tarn Taran,offering Rs 5 lakh to the girl to withdraw her complaint.

‘Pricey’ CM

Another side of Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal came to light during a Sangat Darshan in Moga when people lined up to get photographed with him. Seeing the rush,he announced that Rs 1,000 will be charged per photograph. Dumbstruck,the crowd started dispersing. What came next was a surprise. Laughing loudly,Badal again announced that it was just a joke! And a good one at that!

Split wide open

The recent hunger strike by Punjab Youth Congress against property tax in Ludhiana brought to fore differences in the party. While PYC chief Vikramjit Chaudhary was adamant on continuing the hunger strike even after Deepak Khandur,Youth Congress,president,Ludhiana reached hospital,Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar reached the spot and made the on-strike partymen break fast. Chaudhary was not even aware of the step taken by Jakhar and kept informing media that hunger strike will continue. Pawan Dewan,district president (urban),rued that he was not even informed or invited to hunger strike spot which ended on fifth day.

In a time warp

SAD (Delhi) chief and former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee,Paramjit Singh Sarna,may no longer be at the helm of affairs in DSGMC after SAD (Badal) emerged victorious in polls and Manjit Singh G K was made the new president,but he continues to carry the tag of DSGMC president on his Facebook account. The networking site’s timeline shows that it is continuously being updated with new posts. The only thing that remains to be updated,however,is Sarna’s job profile.

Bajwa,the shayar

PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa is also fond of shayari like PPP President Manpreet Singh Badal. On his visit to Bhaini Sahib,Bajwa interspersed his talks with media with Urdu couplets. Speaking about the Congress workers joining SAD,Bajwa said that Deputy CM will pay for this “recruitment” drive. “Tu idhar udhar kee na baat kar,yeh bata,ke tera kafila kyun luta,” he said,adding that the Deputy CM will realise the meaning of these lines after some time when the Congress workers will return to the party fold and bring with them the SAD’s team as well.

Not the end yet!

Krishan Kumar Khandelwal aka Karya Kushal Khandelwal,who was the frontrunner for the dream posting as the principal secretary to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda,may be down but not out. The main architect of Hooda’s campaigns in the last about eight years,remained short of getting the reward. Hooda,known for announcing decisions at the eleventh hour,gave enough time to officers to lobby for the post before awarding a three-month extension to his outgoing principal secretary Chhatar Singh. The extension is likely to be extended by another three months with Centre’s approval. However,for Khandelwal and other hopefuls,including his trusted Yudhvir Singh Malik,there is still a good chance.

For Dalit votes

Parliamentary elections may still be an year away,but the ruling SAD-BJP alliance and the Opposition Congress in Punjab are already in an overdrive to woo Dalit vote,which accounts for more than 30 per cent of total votes in state. The “efforts” are being made by the National and the Punjab commissions for Schedule Castes (SC) —- the first headed Raj Kumar Verka,Congress MLA from Amritsar West as its vice-chairman and the state body headed by Rajesh Bagha,a BJP leader from Jalandhar. The battle remains on who will first reach a Dalit victim and score brownie points. The officials of both panels are seen trailing each other to such spots. The joke doing the rounds is that a time may come when the two panels will reach such spots even before the incident has taken place!

‘Mock’ coronation

While his party MLAs were busy holding a mock assembly during the budget session,new Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa was rumoured to have done a mock taking over ceremony at the Congress Bhawan on March 19 between 9 to 11 am on an astrologer’s advice. He sat on the chair of the president in the office for a while too. However,Bajwa claims he entered the office only on his coronation day,March 23. But his detractors were quick to announce he should have heeded to his astrologer’s advice,as the two developments after his installation —- party high command appointing four deputies to him and asking him to rollback the first few appointments he made —- dented his “picture-perfect” coronation. But Bajwa has a refrain for everything that misfires. “These are just teething problems.” Here’s wishing he grows out of them.

‘VAT’s wrong?

While the Opposition fumed and fretted over high debt and deficits in the Punjab budget during its mock sessions,one MLA remained anxious about the hike in value added tax (VAT) on soft drinks. “The state government has hit at the poor man’s source of energy. The government is not a private shop,where an accountant has a right to decide what he likes and what he does not,” Congress MLA Kewal Dhillon said. Dhillon’s grievance was understandable. After all he has bottling plants of soft drinks. It hits his business as much as a “common man’s source of energy”.

Question-able deals

The High Court’s query on what shall be the fate of bona fide purchasers of land has brought a smile,which may not last long though,on the face of some “innocent buyers”. Construing the query as their vindication,these “innocents”,which include senior Punjab bureaucrats and politicians,are now awaiting the reply of the Judicial Tribunal. Last week,the High Court had put this question to the three member Tribunal probing illegal properties in Chandigarh’s periphery. While this is being misconstrued as narrowing down the ambit of the Tribunal by some,legal experts view this as an issue which required clarification to dispel fears of those who were actually cheated by land mafia. On the other hand,court’s scathing observation of removing the members of the Tribunal,if found not earnest in their probe,has come as a surprise for many. Those indicted,by the Tribunal,are surely keeping their fingers crossed.

Green ‘crown’

After the INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala,his legislator son Ajay and another senior party leader Sher Singh Badshami’s conviction in infamous JBT recruitment scam,the party is virtually suffering from a leadership crisis. The other two senior leaders,including Chautala’s younger son Abhay and party’s state president Ashok Arora,are the front runners to head the INLD. While Abhay is yet to be seen in the party’s green ‘crown’ (turban),Arora has started wearing the turban,which had been a trademark of party’s previous heads including Devi Lal and Om Prakash Chautala. INLD has yet not been able to make its choice clear and most of the statements issued to the media carry both the leaders’ names prominently. So much so that the quotes in such releases are also attributed to both Abhay and Arora jointly. However,INLD also keeps claiming that the party’s leader remains Om Prakash Chautala irrespective of whether he stays inside or outside the jail.

Chintan over venue

Sukhbir Badal’s chintan shivir for his partymen in Goa has attracted a lot of negative attention,specially from the Opposition. It is learnt that he had originally planned to take hold the shivir in Bangkok but was advised against it by senior party men. It is a holiday but should not look like one,he was told. Senior Badal,however,extracted his pound of flesh by getting an assurance for a similar meet at Anandpur Sahib for some serious discussions.

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