Chandigarh confidential

Jakhar's 'home truths'

Though the Punjab government has asked former leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to vacate her house and the Chandigarh administration "evicted" former state DGP P S Gill to give Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar a new home, his heart lies elsewhere. According to a close aide, Jakhar is interested in getting the house vacated by D S Guru, former principal secretary to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The reason: The house in Chandigarh's Sector 5 is next to that of Haryana Agriculture Minister Paramvir Singh, a dear friend who tended on Jakhar after a road accident. As the injury healed, the bond grew strong between the two Jat leaders. But matters of the heart, Mr Jakhar, do not decide official ones.

A generous offer indeed

Still on the issue of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal not vacating the official accommodation allotted to her as the leader of opposition despite the Punjab government issuing her a notice. Referring to Bhattal's argument that she will not leave and pitch a tent outside the house if she is forcefully evicted, Sukhbir, without naming her, said that he had "no problem" if someone desired to live in a tent. "In fact, these days tents available in the market are of very good quality," he said in a lighter vein and generously offered to send her one. Bhattal has been living in the said house for the last 19 years as a cabinet minister, chief minister and leader of opposition.

Royals versus loyals

After polarising erstwhile Patiala Royals before the Assembly polls, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal now seems to be in mood to reward his loyalists. After the much-public spat with state Congress president Amarinder Singh, his younger brother Malwinder Singh is now fuming at the Badals for betraying his trust. But Sukhbir is having the last laugh. He is interested is swapping the Patiala Lok Sabha seat — which reportedly was to go to Malwinder — with BJP in lieu of Amritsar, from where his brother-in-law and minister Bikram Singh Majithia, is trying to oust BJP MP Navjot Sidhu. Left in the cold, Malwinder is now cosying up to the family. All said, blood is after all thicker than water.

...and the new royals

A Punjab cadre IAS officer posted as managing director of a corporation was given a dressing down by Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh, as he had converted a room in his office to a kitchen with a dining table. The duty of the Class IV employees was to serve the MD with breakfast in that room as per the menu provided by the officer every day. Then they would prepare lunch and serve him again. Since the officer stayed at a guesthouse, an employee was asked to go to the guesthouse at night with the MD's dinner. But now, all these privileges have been taken away by the chief secretary.

No complaints, Sir

A Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officer, currently holding an insignificant post in Chandigarh, flaunts a fleet of luxury vehicles. He had been in field postings throughout his career and was only recently shifted to the headquarters. With the permission of the state government, he had bought a BMW car, which his elder son drives. He has also taken permission from the government and bought an Audi for his younger son. He himself comes to his office in a Toyota Fortuner as he had not been given a official car by the government. But unlike other officers, he is not complaining.

No paper reading for Badal

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is normally seen to speak extempore, was seen reading from sheets of paper during President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to the Panjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana last week. Badal, however, forgot what he was reading and repeated his lines once again.

Rubbing it in

The National Anthem was to be played the moment President Pranab Mukherjee was to enter the PAU auditorium last week. However, with the backstage team playing the recording a minute before, Vice-Chancellor B S Dhillon ran to get it switched off. However, the backstage team refused to learn a lesson — after playing the National Anthem once, they repeated the cassette again.

A return gift

Punjab Director General of Police S S Saini gave a lavish dinner to outgoing director of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Nischal Sandhu, at the gazetted officers' mess of PAP 82 battalion in Chandigarh. All senior state police officers and local IB officials were present. Sandhu had praised the DGP in the past for his effective working and some of the officers said perhaps this was a return gift. The dinner went off till late and then early next day, Sandhu and Saini were in Jalandhar for the national police games. At both the places, Sandhu's visit was kept under wraps by the police.

Kabaddi makes babus uneasy

The third edition of World Cup Kabaddi, which was formally inaugurated in Bathinda on Saturday, has made state government officials uneasy. They complain that the annual event was eating out almost a fortnight every year. They say it is not only diverting the time and energy of officials from development and public-related works since the over a dozen district administrations are working round-the-clock for the event given the personal interest of the deputy chief minister. They suggest that it would be a better idea to hold it like Olympics, Asian Games or the cricket world cup after every four year, or at least after a gap of two years. This will also arrest the interest in kabaddi from waning, they add. Is anyone listening?

Cashing in on rules

Customs officials at Attari are having a tough time dealing with non-Indian nationals crossing over to India from Pakistan with Indian currency. On Friday, the staff had to do quite an exercise to impose a penalty on some Pakistani women, who had come to India for shopping and were carrying Indian currency. Though the women opposed penalty, but the officials followed the rule book and fined them. A day before, an elderly NRI, who had a US passport, too had locked horns with Customs officials after he was asked to pay a fine for carrying Indian currency while returning from Pakistan, where he reportedly went to participate in the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev in Nankana Sahib.

Second thoughts

Another list, in addition to the newly-released list of Punjab law officers, is on the cards. Sources say the second list will have the names of over 10 lawyers — most affiliated to the BJP — who will join the Advocate General office. Rumour has it that the list has been put on hold after SAD leaders, whose kin and acquaintances stand removed due to this, protested. After the first list was announced, BJP leaders had teamed up with SAD leaders to protest the fresh army of law officers appointed by the government. Labelling the new faces in the AG office as Congress representatives and accusing Advocate General Ashok Aggarwal of being instrumental in downsizing the BJP's representation in the office, the leaders had registered their protest with the party high command.

Congress rules

While the ruling Congress in Haryana does not consider either of the opposition parties a potential threat in the 2014 Assembly polls, both HJC and INLD have entered into a "war of words", accusing each other of siding with the Congress. While INLD legislator Ajay Chautala accused HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi of enjoying the support of the Congress, Bishnoi accused Chautala of having an under-cover alliance with the ruling party. A senior Congress leader said, "It does not make a difference to us. Both these parties know their existence in the state is miniscule. Congress is not bothered if both keep accusing each other of having our support. We are open to everybody. Whoever wants to join Congress, we welcome them — be it HJC or INLD."

Hooda's rehab camp

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has always stood by his loyalists even post their superannuation. In the last seven years of Hooda's tenure, over 27 bureaucrats and police officers have been rehabilitated on various posts. The recent addition in Hooda's loyalists' rehabilitation camp was former state DGP Ranjiv Singh Dalal, who was rehabilitated the same day he relinquished charge. Be it the coveted positions of information commissioners, chairpersons of regulatory bodies or enquiry commissions, there is no dearth of postings for retired bureaucrats and IPS officers provided they are loyal to Hooda.

Give us a chance, please

In a recent Haryana Youth Congress function held in Panchkula, the newly-elected Youth Congress president, Amit Sihag, addressed state party chief Phool Chand Mullana as a "bujurg neta" and appealed that the party should give the youth a chance to come forward and serve the people of Haryana. Supporting Sihag's plea, the chief minister, who was also present at the event, said since the kids have addressed Mullana as their elderly leader, he also urges the party chief to take care of the "young guns" when the time comes for distribution of tickets for the Assembly polls.

Any kind of fire

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal appears to be mastering the art to tickle funny bones during press conferences and in the process is not shying to take a dig at mediapersons. In Amritsar recently to visit Metro Cash and Carry, Sukhbir, while responding to a query on reports of coal shortage for thermal plants, denied that there was any shortage. "We have enough coal. Tusi daso je tuhanu kite agg laon layee chahida hai taan (You tell if you want any coal to start a fire)," he told mediapersons.

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