#RegionalJournal: Untold stories from the provinces, everyday : The Tribune India

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#RegionalJournal: Untold stories from the provinces, everyday

#RegionalJournal: Untold stories from the provinces, everyday

Shah-Bittu dosti

The induction of Ravneet Singh Bittu, the grandson of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, into Prime Minister Modi's Council of Ministers on Sunday may have come as a surprise, but those who know Home Minister Amit Shah even a little bit, know better. Seems the PM’s close confidant described the now-defeated BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Ludhiana, at a rally in May, as a friend. “Bittu paanch saal se mera dost hai...woh jab Congress mein tha tab bhi main sarvjanik taur pe kehta tha ki woh mera dost hain…(Bittu has been my friend for five years; even when he was in the Congress, I would say he is my friend),” Shah said. He promised to make the former three-term Congress MP a “bada aadmi” should he be elected to the Lok Sabha. Bittu lost Ludhiana but Shah kept his dosti with him. BJP insiders say the party now intends to groom Bittu as the face of anti-radical politics in Punjab, synonymous with a state that fought and survived terrorism.

AAP’s officials

Hurt badly by the Lok Sabha election results, the Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government in Punjab is in the process of identifying civil and police officials suspected of helping rival parties. Rumour is that the CM has already been informed about several of these names and that these officials are likely to be marginalised. It is said AAP’s own intelligence network has submitted reports about them. This obviously has not amused the officials in question. They perceive this as the ruling AAP finding scapegoats for their election reversal rather than the party doing an honest introspection.

Cold water wake-up

It is well known that BJP candidates faced a tough time canvassing in Punjab's villages in the recent elections because villagers just didn't allow them in — so some BJP loyalists hit upon a novel idea to counter farmers’ protests. In Gurdaspur, scores of supporters of BJP candidate Dinesh Singh Babbu were instructed to carry bottles of cold water, which they offered irate farmers as soon as Babbu was surrounded by them. This gesture lowered temperatures substantially. Often, the farmers would let Babbu continue with his campaign.

Why is Barala shaky?

In a few months from now, Haryana's Assembly elections will take place, so state politics is naturally hotting up. For example, the situation in Fatehabad’s Tohana Assembly segment, which gave Congress candidate Kumari Selja from Sirsa the maximum lead of over 48,000 votes — this has come as a setback to BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Barala. Barala also lost by over 50,000 votes from Tohana in the last Assembly election to JJP’s Devender Babli. Certainly, these repeated setbacks means that Barala’s position is now on a shaky ground ahead of the coming polls. Babli, who is now said to be a contender for the BJP ticket —though he supported Kumari Selja in the Lok Sabha poll — obviously wants to unseat Barala and pitch for one of his own loyalists. In the land of “aaya Ram, gaya Ram”, it’s time to watch this space.

Quiet over Kangana

The outcry around the Kangana Ranaut ‘slapgate’ affair has found little support in a significant part of Himachal Pradesh state BJP leadership. Considering the BJP is usually quite prompt and loud in registering protests over incidents/events it doesn't like, in the Kangana case BJP leaders have been unusually muted. Except for Himachal, BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur, who issued a small statement condemning the incident, other prominent state leaders from the party have apparently not paid much attention. Interestingly, the incident has been condemned vociferously by Vikramaditya Singh, whom Kangana defeated in the bitterly-contested elections.

Contributed by Aditi Tandon, Jupinderjit Singh, Subhash Rajta, Ravi Dhaliwal & Deepender Deswal

#Amit Shah #Ravneet Bittu

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