Chandigarh Confidentialhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/chandigarh-confidential-26/

Chandigarh Confidential

He may have unseated the erstwhile maharaja as the Punjab Congress chief but Partap Singh Bajwa continues to feel the presence of his predecessor Captain Amarinder Singh.

‘Royal’ blues

He may have unseated the erstwhile maharaja as the Punjab Congress chief but Partap Singh Bajwa continues to feel the presence of his predecessor Captain Amarinder Singh. The letters that Amarinder supposedly wrote on Bajwa to Congress president Sonia Gandhi have stirred the hornet’s nest in the ever-divided party,with some of Bajwa’s detractors calling his elevation to the top post as an “intelligence failure” by the high command; others say he has fallen out of favour with Sonia. So MLAs,sitting and former,MPs and district presidents are once again openly declaring their loyalties,those ignored by Captain to Bajwa and those ignored by Bajwa to the Patiala royalty.

Time management

WITH Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda beset by a busy schedule,his subordinates decided to ease the pressure on him. They fixed plaques of 28 projects,that the chief minister was to inaugurate,at a single site in Bawani Khera . While the government officials showed exemplary promptness and got the construction of the plaques completed within a couple of days,it remains to be seen if these projects that were inaugurated at one go can also be completed at the same pace.

Credit wars

FROM senior Haryana Minister Kiran Choudhry,her daughter Shruti Choudhry to local MLAs and MPs in the state,a host of Congress leaders have been claiming credit for the inclusion of the state’s Mahendergarh and Bhiwani districts in the National Capital Region. Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda,however,played it smart by crediting the Centre’s decision to everybody including ministers,MLAs,MPs and the state government. In a press conference,the chief minister publically made it clear that it was a joint achievement.

polls and posts

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THE Haryana government has switched to poll mode and has begun announcing one populist measure after the other. It has begun preparations for the elections with such vigour that even the recent administrative reshuffle is being attributed to the government’s poll intentions. The chief minister,sources said,has asked the chief secretary to prepare a list so that officers can be posted at the very place the government wants them during the 2014 election season. The six-month window,the government reckons,will give it sufficient time to determine if those transferred dance to its tunes. “This is nothing unusual. Every government does this on the eve of elections. Now,if the government has the choice to judge the babus then they too have the time to opt out of their position of favour if they want to,” chuckled a senior officer while dismissing the contention that these postings would mean that they are compelled to act like puppets.

Speaker’s skills

THE Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Charanjeet Singh Atwal sure knows how to make the chief minister listen to him; he demonstrated this during a function at Rabbon Uchi village. While Atwal was addressing the crowd,Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was taking serious note. In between,however,Badal would speak to those on the stage unaware that Atwal was keeping a close eye. Every time the chief minister’s attention wandered,Atwal would pause. Badal soon realised this and completely stopped chatting till the Speaker finished his speech.

Chhapas Rog

WITH ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries (CPSes) showing a keen desire to have their printed in newspapers every day,the Punjab Public Relations department has been forced to issue the same old press releases to the media after every few weeks. These days it has become common for old press releases landing up with journalists. “There is nothing new to make a press note about but when we are forced to make press releases on a daily basis from where we will bring new things. So we release the old one with some little new angle,” said a DPRO officer. He added: “Inhan mantirian nu tan Chhapas Rog lagya hoya hai,sanu kehnde ne roj sade ware likho. (these ministers are stung by the compulsive habit of getting their names printed every day in the newspapers and hence they force us to write something about them every day and release it to the media).”

Forever busy?

A MAJORITY of the women officers in Punjab rarely pick up their phones and even if they do,have earned a reputation for putting down their phones abruptly. This grouse is shared not only by the media but senior officers at Chandigarh as well as many social organisations. “We were to organise a girl child related programme and wanted deputy commissioner (DC) madam to attend but she neither picked her phone,nor replied to a dozens of SMSes. When we call her land line number,all the operator says is that madam is not at home,” said the president of a well-known NGO.

Long noose

FOR death row convict Dharampal,condemned to death for murdering five of a family,every hearing in the Punjab and Haryana High Court is bringing an extended lease of life,at least till now. He was originally slated to hang on April 15 after the President rejected his mercy petition but the High Court stayed his march to the gallows by a week. That,however,has not been the prisoner’s only reprieve. Since April 7,the High Court has been extending the stay on Dharampal’s hanging with the condemned prisoner having received nearly half a dozen extensions so far. He can only hope that he gets another extension,this time a long one,on July 29,the next date of hearing in the High Court.

Complainant & witness

ONCE the special CBI Court,Chandigarh,decides to frame charges against Justice (retd) Nirmal Yadav and other co-accused in the Cash at Judge’s door scam,a sitting High Court Judge will have to step in the witness box to depose against Yadav. Justice Nirmaljit Kaur,the actual complainant in the case,is a key prosecution witness for the CBI. She is prosecution witness number 9 in the scam,a fact disclosed by the premier investigating agency last week. With the Punjab and Haryana High Court setting a ten-day deadline for the special court to decide on the issue of framing of charges,Justice Kaur is likely to depose against Yadav very soon.

A lot to explain

THE Haryana government may have,albeit after repeated dressing downs from the high court,furnished information relating to money received and spent by it on account of external development charge (EDC),but the state Government is yet to explain a lot. It has to first clear the confusion around the “departmental charges” head under which it claims to have spent over Rs 568 crore of the total funds of Rs 9,500 crore. Then,despite a clear High Court direction,it has to justify Rs 315 crore spent on providing Metro service under the EDC head.

Matter of heart

IN AMRITSAR recently to participate in the state BJP executive committee meet,party president Rajnath Singh issued a stern warning to BJP district chiefs to constitute booth-level committees within the next three months. He said those who think they were unable to perform the task should be shown the door after they are garlanded ( Phool Mala Pehna ke bahar ka rasta dikha do). Singh said leaders can rise by not having their photographs in newspapers but by making a place in the hearts of people. “The nation is looking at us with eyes of hope. If you do not do it this time,people would not forgive us,” he told party cadre.

CUT and fax

PUNJAB Congressmen have become rather touchy about every word that is written about them in English newspapers. The reason: English is all that Mrs Sonia Gandhi can read and understand. With almost everyone in the state Congress at each others necks one is just waiting for something negative to appear in the newspaper against the other. A story that appeared in an English daily about the infighting in the Congress was promptly cut from the paper and faxed to the Congress chief ‘s office in no time. The lady also,it seems,doesn’t need more than a newspaper cutting to form a opinion about her party leaders and made her displeasure over the matter clear. Congressmen spent the last week requesting journalists in private not to write anything about the party that can be cut and faxed. They better keep their fingers crossed… maybe this too will make it to her desk!

Writing on the blackboard

THERE seems to be no end to the Sikander Singh Maluka vs Kahan Singh Pannu soap opera that has been playing out over the past several months in Punjab. The latest salvo comes from Pannu,the Director General of Schools Education,Punjab,who has gone on a long leave for “personal” reasons. It is,however,reliably learnt that Pannu will keep a close eye on the way Education Minister Maluka handles transfers in the department. Transfers and postings of teachers in Punjab is a major exercise and usually involves a huge amount of money with almost everyone in the department partaking in it. Pannu’s going on leave ensures that he is not involved in the process but his loyalists within the department will inform him about who met whom and where regarding transfers. With the Chief Minister Parkash Badal solidly behind Pannu,Maluka cannot afford another controversy. He better be careful says the writing on the wall or better still the blackboard.

BMW or MBD?

SPECULATION that the Punjab government intends to buy BMWs for the chief minister and the deputy chief minister,has led to vigorous banter at the Civil Secretariat. To say that the state is cash strapped is an understatement. Employees had to wait for eight days to get their salaries. “BMW? You think this government has the money to buy a BMW? It cannot even buy an MBD notebook for anyone,” quipped an irritated employee.

Two ‘wives’ on Bajwa’s side

HE MAY be struggling to win over loyalists of predecessor Captain Amarinder Singh but Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa has the former’s wife firmly on his side. On the day that reports claimed that Amarinder had written to Sonia on Bajwa’s alleged terror links,Union minister Preneet Kaur,Amarinder’s wife,lavished praise on Bajwa. She also praised him during his elevation in March and hosted his first public meeting at Patiala. Bajwa’s wife,Charanjit Bajwa,is also doing her bit. To ensure that Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar did not hog all the limelight,she called up Jakhar’s office to ensure Bajwa too got an invite. The number of times she called is being pegged as a three-digit figure. Its all number crunching in the Congress now. Those with Bajwa,those with Capt,those who have their own ambitions…the list goes on.

Battle ‘Nihal singh wala’

THE battle for the Moga sub division is well and truly on between two Akali legislators – Nihal Singh Wala MLA Rajvinder Kaur and Dharamkot MLA Tota Singh. The battle,which has already claimed two lives in Sado Ke village,took another twist on Friday when Jathedar Tota Singh decided to display his power to the Kaur group and organised a function ostensibly to honour panchayats in Takhtupura village. His speech on the occasion,however,signalled something else. “Some people should know and well understand that we enjoy people’s support not only in Dharamkot but every area of district. You people will get the grants through our government and not from some special people who are doing everything to weaken party unity.”Kaur clearly needs to lend some ears here.

SC order shakes Jain backers

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THE recent Supreme Court order on convicted legislators has shaken supporters of Moga MLA Joginderpal Jain while emboldening his rivals. With Jain having been convicted in two cases,the Congress,still furious over his defection,and veteran Akalis,who never supported his entry into he party,now see a way to bring him down. “We are waiting for orders of the high court on PIL filed against Jain getting chairmanship of the warehouse committee. We will then take action,” said a veteran Akali leader adding that the deputy chief minister will soon be approached to reconsider his decision.