Cap­tain’s an­kle ran­kles AAP, and Congress too

OPPN CLAIMS A RUSE Govt says docs have ad­vised CM to re­strict move­ment

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Punjab - Sukhdeep Kaur sukhdeep.kaur@hin­dus­tan­

CHANDI­GARH: Al­most a decade back — in 2006 — Cap­tain Amarinder Singh, then Pun­jab CM, was seen walk­ing with a stick af­ter a slip just be­fore elec­tions. He had told re­porters then that he had hurt his left an­kle af­ter slip­ping in the bath­room, but the in­jury was a mi­nor one and his poll cam­paign sched­ule would not be af­fected.

Ahead of 2017 Fe­bru­ary polls, Amarinder was once again left with a bruised an­kle af­ter a whirl­wind tour of Pun­jab dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign. Ad­vised rest, Cap­tain had spent time be­fore the poll ver­dict rel­ish­ing his home-grown straw­ber­ries and was seen us­ing a stick af­ter once again be­com­ing the CM on March 16.

He skipped the Baisakhi rally at Tal­wandi Sabo in April due to his “swollen an­kle” and state fi­nance min­is­ter Manpreet Badal was rushed to rep­re­sent him. In do­ing so, Manpreet slipped on the prom­ise he made while draft­ing the party's poll man­i­festo — of no chop­per for min­is­ters — by hop­ping on to one him­self.

On Septem­ber 6, the CM skipped the Ch ha par Mela in Lud­hi­ana too, again re­gret­ting that he would not be able to at­tend the event as he is ‘in­dis- posed’. A gov­ern­ment spokesman said the chief min­is­ter has been ad­vised to ‘re­strict his move­ment’ by doc­tors due to a sprained an­kle.

But he flew to Lon­don for re­lease of his bi­og­ra­phy and book on the Bat­tle of Sara­garhi the next day.

While there were rum­blings within his own party lead­ers over the tim­ing when the first state-event to mark 120 years of the Bat­tle was ob­served in Pun­jab on Septem­ber 12, the Op­po­si­tion Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could not re­sist tak­ing an “an­kle- deep” dig at the CM.

“The CM blames his bruised an­kle for skip­ping state events and party func­tions, but went to Lon­don. He has not gone to Pun­jab even six times in the past six months of com­ing to power. What’s even more strange is that he is go­ing on for­eign trips when Pun­jab is vir­tu­ally bank­rupt, is burn­ing and needs strong gov­er­nance,” Pun­jab leader of Op­po­si­tion, Sukh­pal Khaira, told HT.

The an­kle is not only rankling the Op­po­si­tion. When ad­vo­cate gen­eral Atul Nanda threw a high-pro­file bash early this month at his min­is­te­rial bun­ga­low in Chandi­garh, the CM gave it a miss.

The the­o­ries for the "royal ig­nore" ranged be­tween Am arinder avoided a di­rect in­ter­ac­tion with the ju­di­ciary when he is fac­ing court cases to his avoid­ing be­ing seen with one of the many "power cen­tres" in the gov­ern­ment. But the rea­son given by an of­fi­cial spokesman to the me­dia for his ab­sence was again the "swollen an­kle".

In May, when Nanda played host to the CM at his new Hi­machal abode to cel­e­brate his el­e­va­tion to the post, Amarinder and his en­tire co­terie, from min­is­ters to aides were in at­ten­dance. Is the an­kle also a ruse?

And not just the Op­po­si­tion in Pun­jab is amused.

(From right) Congress lead­ers Su­nil Jakhar and Tript Ra­jin­der Singh Ba­jwa with Pun­jab chief min­is­ter Cap­tain Amarinder Singh af­ter his re­turn from Lon­don at the Delhi air­port on Satur­day.

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