Captain’s ankle rankles AAP, and Congress too
OPPN CLAIMS A RUSE Govt says docs have advised CM to restrict movement
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 Chhapar 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 “ankledeep” 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 Amarinder 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.
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.
SUKHPAL KHAIRA, Punjab leader of Opposition
(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.