The Punjab Police is getting media-savvy and how. It all started with the police headquarters in Chandigarh sporting a refurbished media lounge. Now, DGP Sumedh Singh Saini is leading the effort from the front. With Cabinet minister and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal’s brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia by his side, Saini was all over the front pages of newspapers, sympathising with the father of a serving officer, from his department, who had been shot dead by a local Akali leader. The DGP’s office not only ensured a photo op but also press coverage of how Saini did not sleep till the culprits were behind bars. The cameras flashed again as the top Punjab cop addressed a press conference in Amritsar to announce the arrests. From bad press to good, Saini has indeed come a long way.
What Haryana won’t tell
The Congress is learnt to have avoided roping in Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to campaign in the Himachal Pradesh polls due to the DLF-Robert Vadra controversy. Even the Haryana chief minister’s Gujarat visit seemed unlikely till last week. So neither his confidantes nor the Haryana PR department, which had gone on an overdrive after the state was placed first in several parameters of the 11th five year plan, could tell if their boss was Gujarat-bound. Even the Gujarat Congress said Hooda’s schedule was tentative, while the chief minister remained tight-lipped till the nod came. It seems that it takes just one Khemka to undo all the credit earned for making Haryana number one!
De-facto thanedars calling shots
Several senior police officials admit that PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal’s observation that jathedars (Akali leaders) have been acting as thanedars (police officials) and are calling the shots, was an accurate assessment of the situation. A senior police officer said that this has led to increased political interference and contributed to the deteriorating law and order situation. Officials also point out that the re-constitution of police sub-divisions and thanas in accordance with assembly seats has made officers at the cutting-edge level - DSPs and SHOs - even more amenable to the wishes of ruling party MLAs and halka incharges (constituency incharges), where there are opposition MLAs.
Hooda junior’s Haryanvi Aloo!
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son Deepender Hooda, who stepped in to his father’s shoes at the Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency after the senior Hooda was given the reins of the state, attempted to highlight the state’s commitment to retail FDI in typical Haryanvi style in the Lok Sabha last week. As always his publicity manager, a PR department employee who owed his allegiance to the Chautalas when they were in power but changed side to the Hoodas after the former were ousted, was quick to go ga ga over Deepender’s observation that if need be, Haryana will produce two feet long aloos (potatoes) for Mcdonalds. The PR enthusiast detailed how Hooda junior floored everybody in the House. What the guy conveniently seemed to have missed was Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s response to Hooda: “Son, you call yourself the son of a farmer yet you do not know the difference between a lauki and an aloo.” The PR campaign hardly paid any dividends as most papers described in detail, Sushma’s snub to the Rohtak MP.
KD’s shattering dreams !
Local business tycoon Kanwar Deep Singh’s dream to capture political space in the region, through the Trinamool Congress (TMC), is in tatters as prominent leaders, he had poached from the Congress, have deserted him one after the other. Singh began his local political flight by bringing in three media advisers of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. One of them, however, deserted the TMC within 48 hours of joining the party. Since then, the exodus has not stopped and was complete this week with two prominent desertions from party, the first of Anil Saini and then Sunder Pal, Singh’s prize catch from Hooda’s confidantes. Sunder Pal, who had snapped his nearly two decade association with Hooda to join the TMC, had lashed out at the Congress when he left. It was of little wonder, therefore, when he had a few things to say about Singh and his party when he finally decided to bid adieu to the TMC. Singh, who shot to national fame by securing a Trinamool Congress nomination to the Rajya Sabha, now has the tough task of rebuilding the badly demolished structure of his party in the region.
The Badal Age-old mystery
What is the real age of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal ? While there were a lot of advertisements in the vernacular and English newspapers congratulating Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on his 85th birthday on December 8, in his nomination paper for the recent assembly polls, Badal had mentioned his age as 84. In 2007, however, he had quoted his age as 76 which means in the last five years he has grown older by eight years. In 2007, when Badal declared his age as 76, he had also celebrated his 82nd birthday at a gala event in Bathinda. At that time the happy Opposition, however, only milked the controversy that had been served to it on a platter.
Government on ventilator
Stating that there will be mid-term polls at the state and the Centre, INLD legislator Ajay Chautala described the Congress governments in Haryana and the Centre as “governments on ventilator, surviving on oxygen being supplied by a team B (allies).” Chautala made this comment, while taking a dig at the ruling Congress in Haryana on the deteriorating law and order condition in the state. Alleging that the Congress government has failed on all the fronts, he added that the state government is not even in a position to pay the salaries of its employees, nor does it have money to disburse the old age pensions.
Top heavy Haryana police
There are four top cops in Haryana, who hold the ranks of Director Generals of Police. When Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda appointed a 1981-batch IPS officer S N Vashisht as the state police chief by ignoring the seniority list, it led to a lot of heart burn in the state IPS cadre. To maintain the hierarchy and avoid any confrontation, however, the state government deputed three officers, who are senior to Vashisht, to posts which are not under Vashist’s control or command. The three include Satyendra Kumar, who was posted as DGP (home guards); Sharad Kumar who has been posted as DGP (vigilance) and R K Vachher, who was posted as DG, Police Housing Corporation as its Chairman.
Another Navjot shooting
Chief Parliamentary Secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of cricketer-turned-politician and Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, seems to be following in her husband’s footsteps while expressing her sentiment. She went all out to express solidarity with the family of slain Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Ravinderpal Singh, visiting the family every day after his murder and besides sympathising with the family, also provided them with medical help, something she is familiar with being a doctor. Dr Sidhu was so moved, when she visited the family for the first time, that she herself turned nostalgic as ASI’s daughter was inconsolable. Since then, if any politician spent most of the time with the family, it has been her. She even gave the family her personal mobile number, telling them to call her for any help. Amid all the emotional and medical support to the ASI’s family, she demanded that the accused be shot dead at the same spot where he had fired at the ASI.
Indefensible and in a tight spot
SAD Amritsar (urban) president Upkar Singh Sandhu found himself in a tricky position after the activists of the Committee Against Hooliganism, formed to get justice in the Faridkot minor abduction case, gathered around him and questioned the appointment of a “criminal like Ranjit Singh Rana” to the post of party general secretary. The activists of committee had come to express solidarity with the family of slain ASI and assured to stand by the program given by local residents.
Time for introspection
“How can the chain of command in the police and other departments be maintained and accountability ensured when almost all transfers and postings are done at the sifarish and diktats of the local politicians and rarely on merit? Can We The People really do something about it?,’’ a senior Punjab-cadre IAS officer has written on his Facebook page. And he goes on: “Deeply appalled by the murder of police officer Ravinderpal Singh in Amritsar. Here are a few questions which need answer. Why have things come to such a pass that fathers and brothers have to pay with their lives just to protect the honour of their daughters and sisters? How can we ensure good governance when majority of officers have lost all zeal and initiative and hesitate to take independent decisions because they feel that they cannot afford to annoy even the lowest level politician?”
A murder and a shaken body
The murder of assistant sub-inspector Ravinderpal Singh in Amritsar by an Akali Dal leader has sent ripples through the Punjab Police with police officials wondering if the ASI would have been booked for murder if he had fired first and killed the Akali leader. “If we fire, we are in trouble and if we do not, then there is almost every chance that we will lose our lives. Criminals are free to do anything but we cannot,’’ groused a few police officers.
While there was a public announcement of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s birthday at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) convocation hall, not many knew that Union Minister Manish Tewari also shares his birthday with the chief minister. Tewari, however, kept it as a low key affair with his supporters having already greeted him at the Halwara airbase, when he had landed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Ludhiana District Congress Committee president Pawan Dewan, however, said: “Manish ji never celebrates his birthday with pomp and show, so not many even know the date of his birthday.”