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Chandigarh confidential

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal (PSB) now has another PSB to contend with — Pratap Singh Bajwa,the new Congress chief.

Written by Express News Service | Updated: April 16, 2014 2:49:18 pm


Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal (PSB) now has another PSB to contend with — Pratap Singh Bajwa,the new Congress chief. Bajwa’s friends see this as a major astrological advantage that he has over any other leader when it comes to lead the state once Congress comes to power. Maybe that is why Bajwa’s new media advisor is also a “Bains” (Satinder) just like Badal’s media advisor — Harcharan Bains.


State Congress vice-president Charanjeet Singh Channi was upbeat after looking at the huge gathering in Ludhiana where party president Partap Singh Bajwa was scheduled to address workers. He,however,was in for a shock when found his purse missing. Channi cried foul and said: “I came with a fat purse thinking that I am going to the rich Ludhiana city,but the purse was stolen at the entry gate only. This shows the law and order situation in the state. Pick-pockets are on prowl everywhere.”

‘Dignity’ starts from home

Congress MLA Rana Gurjit was not too happy making headlines as the victim of abuses hurled on him by Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia at the Assembly. He salvaged his “macho” reputation by claiming at a Congress meeting that he was the first to hurl abuses. Subsequently,Rana looked a happy man. For Jat leaders from Majha,they say,pride comes before all. And little self-praise is considered equally valiant. Sample one of Rana’s press notes — “The vibrant leader of Congress,Rana Gurjeet Singh,MLA Kapurthala and former MP (Lok Sabha) Jalandhar said …”

Gandhi vs Anna

As Anna Hazare reached Amritsar to kick-start his Jantantra Yatra from Jallianwala Bagh,Sham Lal Gandhi — known for propagating Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology — was seen complaining that he was not allowed to meet Hazare. Holding the Tricolour and dressed like Mahatma,Lal lamented that those accompanying Hazare did not allow him to meet the social activist when he arrived at the Circuit House to address mediapersons. “I requested the persons around him that I wanted to meet Anna and pay my respect. But I was not allowed,” Lal said.

Anna CD

Supporters of Anna Hazare,during his Jantantra Yatra in Punjab,were unhappy with the thin crowd following the social activist in Ludhiana. Though the city had supported his movement with great enthusiasm,when Anna himself came to the city,not more than 100 people came to listen to him. A member of his team,while speaking on the microphone,said: “For this much of crowd,it would have been better to send a CD of Annaji.”

Flexing his muscles

While Congress MLAs in Punjab may be bereft of any power with the SAD-BJP forming the government for second term in a row,Amritsar MLA Raj Kumar Verka continues to be all “powerful” — thanks to his position as the vice-chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. With alleged cases involving Dalits surfacing from across the state,Verka is a busy man,holding court and following up old cases by summoning officials,seeking status reports and directing officials to do the needful.

‘Main culprit’

Despite the change of leadership in Punjab Congress,the morale of party workers at the grassroot level is still low. Many senior leaders are finding it tough to mobilise workers. “Though the new Congress chief has announced various rallies to mobilise the workers,but we are finding it hard to bring them to such rallies. Workers are depressed and saying that the fate of the party is not going to change with change in leadership but by a change in attitude because the party’s main culprit — groupism — continues,” a senior leader in Doaba region said.

Jinxed ‘K’

Haryana babudom is abuzz that officers’ names starting with ‘K’ should be alert,as luck is not in their favour. The names of two powerful officers starting with K — Khandelwal and Khemka — have been at the receiving end,last week. First,additional principal secretary to the CM,Krishan Kumar Khandelwal,who seemed set to capture the elevated position of principal secretary,suffered a setback and then Ashok Khemka was shunted out of the Haryana Seed Development Corporation — his 44th transfer in a 20-year career.

Angry young (old) man

It won’t be a surprise if IAS officer Ashok Khemka finds something against the government even in the Haryana archives department. Especially,after he reportedly compared himself to the angry youngman — oops! the angry old man,Amitabh Bachchan. It is not that he is at loggerheads only with the current government,he had taken up cudgels with the erstwhile Om Prakash Chautala government as well. Now,everybody is trying to figure out how he may create a problem in his new department. “He can summon all old land records from the department to further consolidate his charges,” said a senior officer.

With the cat away…

If anyone is looking forward to the Goa chintan shivir of the SAD-BJP government more than those who are actually going,it’s the babus. With no political boss in town from April 7 to 10,golf tournaments are being planned and so are family dinners and drinking bashes. “Who needs to go all the way to Goa to have a ball? It’s all happening here. Let there be more such shivirs,” an officer said.

Creating waves

Bathinda MP and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife Harsimrat Badal made everyone sit up in surprise and admiration when she appeared in an award ceremony dressed in a white sari. The leader is mostly seen in Punjab’s staple dress — salwar kameez — and has her head covered while she is in Parliament.

Promotion time

After the elevation of Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri to the Supreme Court,it is the turn of Justice A K Goel — former acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court — to be elevated to the SC. Sources said Goel,who is currently the Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court,will be sent to the SC. Justice Jasbir Singh,who will remain the acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court after Sikri’s departure,is also likely to be promoted as the Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court.

Coming soon

Of the judgments to be pronounced by the division bench headed by Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri,it is the one concerning appointment of Sumedh Singh Saini as the Punjab DGP that is awaited with bated breath. Soon to leave the Punjab and Haryana High Court to assume his new office at the Supreme Court,Sikri’s division bench had taken suo motu notice of the issue initially raised by a local in a PIL. All “concerned” parties are keeping a close watch on the daily cause list,which shows judgments to be pronounced a day in advance.

Facile tongue

IAS officer (retd) B K Srivastva may not have got relief from court but he did receive appreciation from a division bench for his facile tongue. Challenging his transfer as the Punjab Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training chairman,which he termed illegal,Srivastva from day one contested his case on his own against seniormost Punjab law officers. Impressed,the bench not only complimented but also ‘suggested’ that Srivastva should try his luck as a lawyer. The court,however,dismissed Srivastva’s appeal.

Masquerade of sympathy

More than the ‘sympathy’ shown by him for the thrashing of a girl by Punjab Police officers,the Tarn Taran SSP was required to respond to accusations levelled against him by the victim. However,SSP Kamaljit Singh Dhillon chose to remain blissfully silent. Beaten mercilessly by policemen on March 3,the girl had alleged that Dhillon had offered her Rs 5 lakh to withdraw her complaint. Rather than responding to the allegations,Dhillon tried to defend his errant policemen by ‘highlighting’ the ‘contradictions’ in the victim’s statements.

Dynasty again

Haryana PR department quoted Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda saying — “there is nothing like dynasty politics in democracy” — in a press statement issued regarding Hooda’s replies to certain queries put to him during an event held in New Delhi. However,Hooda — who may have taken a dig at Opposition INLD through the statement — failed to notice that his own party high command was also working on the same formula.

Ineffective mediator

It so happened in Moga’s Rattian village that Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia had to play the role of a mediator when the two SAD groups clashed in front of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. During a sangat darshan programme,new members who had joined SAD after leaving Congress clashed with veteran Akalis over funds for a water tank. Majithia quickly tried to mediate by saying that both the sides would be heard and a decision taken amicably. Though both the sides turned quiet for some time,they started creating a ruckus,a few minutes later. The last resort was to declare that the programme had ended with most of people returning unheard.

Jain ‘after affects’

The six-day long sangat darshan programme in Moga will be a memorable one for Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal,as he faced SAD members clashing in not one,but four villages. It was a kind of “Jain after affect”,as clashes erupted between veteran and the new Akalis — those who had joined with MLA Joginderpal Jain. This comes in the wake of panchayati raj polls scheduled for May. Jain,who enjoys huge support in rural areas,however,claimed: “When I am supporting SAD,my supporters will also do so. There is nothing like new and old Akalis.”

MLA first,wife later

On his first day in office,Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa ensured a decent crowd by coinciding the occasion with the joining of four party vice-presidents. For Bajwa,who loves his pictures in newspapers,it turned out to be a good photo-op. But not all was okay in the home front. His miffed wife — Qadian MLA Charanjit Bajwa — called up the Congress office with an instruction that all MLAs be henceforth invited in case the state chief is in office. Though she was promised that protocol will be followed,whether they would turn up is altogether a different matter.

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