Friday, January 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong charge sheet a damp squib
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The Congress charge sheet , which accuses the SAD-BJP government of ‘‘total failure on all fronts’’, has turned out to be a ‘‘damp squib’’ as it is a conglomeration of allegations and charges being made by the state leadership against the ruling alliance from time to time, especially during the past couple of months.

The 12-page document, expected to be a ‘‘bombshell’’, makes 12 oft-repeated allegations against the present government. It was released by the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the presence of AICC observer Ahmed Patel and two former MPs, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder and Mr Sant Ram Singla, here today. He also released an audio cassette for mass distribution.

The charge sheet did not bring out anything which the Congress leadership has not alleged before.

‘‘The Akalis, for their narrow political gains and short-sighted policies and in order to defame the Congress, are again building up an atmosphere of hatred, mistrust and division on religious basis,’’reads the first charge, accusing the ruling alliance of abetting terrorism.

Ridiculing the claim of the alliance that it was providing ‘‘Maharaja Ranjit Singh-like regime,’’ the charge sheet said no MLA revealed his or her assets as promised by the SAD in its election manifesto. There was an open sale of government jobs, it said. Vacancies, which had been there for the past four years, were advertised during the last few months ‘‘ to accommodate the combine's favourites to generate political support and money.’’

The ‘‘sangat darshan programme was encouraging corruption and leakage of funds due to lopsided planning and inadequate supervision,’’it alleged.

It also charged the Badal family with acquiring huge chunk of land in India and abroad, including a five-star hotel in Gurgaon.

It further said the Finance Minister, Capt kanwaljeet Singh, was targeted by Raja Narinder Singh and Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Minister of State for PWD, for corruption and undesirable activities and the Chief Minister did not take any action in the matter.

‘‘Even the State Public Service Commission was embroiled in an unsavoury controversy,’’ it said.

It also accused Mr Balramji Dass Tandon of close links with a notorious character of the Tehelka episode. Release of bus permits to favourites, involvement of MPs and MLAs in ‘‘illegal arms licenses racket’’in Ferozepore district, extortion of money from traders and businessmen and interference of the Power Minister in PSEB affairs were the other allegations in the charge sheet.

Other charges included failure to fulfill pre-election promises and resolve inter-state disputes pertaining to water and territory, besides crippling the state economy and handing over projects of infrastructure to private firms.


Equations change fast in Badal village
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), January 24
This native village of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal which has produced several MPs, ministers and MLAs in the past more than four decades apart from giving a Chief Minister thrice, has been witnessing a change in political equations and loyalty.

After the election atmosphere started building up in Punjab about two to three months ago, the first significant political development took place when Mr Paramjit Singh Dhillon, a first cousin of the Chief Minister, who had been opposing him (Mr Badal) and his son Sukhbir Badal in all elections, threw his weight behind him (Mr Badal). This despite the fact that he had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections from Gidderbaha against the official nominee of the SAD, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, who is also related to him.

Mr Paramjit Dhillon, who campaigned in the last Lok Sabha elections in favour of Congress candidate Jagmeet Brar from the Faridkot constituency and “arranged” the defeat of Mr Sukhbir Badal, was nominated member of the Punjab Public Service Commission recently. Before joining the commission, he was an aspirant for Congress ticket from the Lambi Assembly segment.

Mr Sanjam Singh Dhillon, a kin of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his staunch opponent, also came in to the SAD’s fold after a compromise was reached between his family and Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s a few months ago.

Mr Sanjam Dhillon defeated the SAD candidate and confidant of Mr Badal, Mr Joginder Singh Gaggi, in the last panchayat elections from this village with the blessing of the late Teja Singh Dhillon, who associates claimed that Mr Badal was initiated into politics by him.

Mr Paramjit Dhillon, Mr Sanjam Singh Dhillon and Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Dhillon, also a first cousin of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and son of the late Teja Singh Dhillon, were instrumental in getting the support of the late Teja Singh Badal, who commanded a considerable influence in this area, for Mr Jagmeet Brar in the last Lok Sabha elections.

Another political development in this village took place when Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, joined the Congress at a function presided over by PPCC President Amarinder Singh despite the fact that he was scheduled to announce his joining the Congress at a kisan maha panchayat rally organised by Mr Jagmeet Brar at Malout abut three months ago.

After joining the Congress, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Dhillon started a campaign in the village with the hope that he would get ticket from the Lambi Assembly segment from where Mr Badal would also contest. Even a section of the Congress leadership was in favour of nominating him against Mr Badal to make the contest tough and interesting.

However, Mr Gurnam Singh Abulkhurana, who tasted defeat at the hands of Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the last Assembly elections as Congress candidate, managed to get ticket again with the strong backing of Capt Amarinder Singh and the tireless efforts made by his son and Youth Congress leader, Mr Jagpal Singh Abulkhurana.

After this incident, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, who also commanded respect and influence in the area, decided to contest these Assembly elections as an Independent and filed his nomination papers yesterday, apparently breaking his “new” association with the Congress.

Political observers feel that though Mr Parkash Singh Badal is a strong candidate from the Lambi Assembly segment as he has carried out huge development of the area, the presence of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh will force Mr Badal to concentrate on his campaign. The contest, which was a direct fight between the Congress and the SAD, has become triangular after Mr Mahesh Inder Singh filed his papers.


Panjwar village hums with poll activity
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Panjwar (Amritsar), January 24
The ancestral village of two self-styled chiefs of the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), Panjwar, where only one vote was polled during the boycott of the Akalis in February 1992, that too by Mr Gurdial Singh Dhillon, a former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, hums with poll activities these days.

Mr Arjun Singh (88) and Mr Sarbjit Singh, father and brother, respectively, of Parmjit Singh Panjwar, a self-styled chief of the Khalistan Commando Force whose name figures in India’s most wanted 20 terrorists who have taken shelter in Pakistan, say: “Ballot is more powerful than bullet”. They said even before the filing of nomination papers, electioneering had reached a feverish pitch in the village. Replying to a question, Mr Arjun Singh said youth were misguided to adopt the path of violence which could not solve any problem.

The father-son duo said they would actively participate in the elections. They said during the February 1992 Assembly elections, they had to flee due to police terror and returned to their ancestral house after normalcy returned to the state.

About the future of his son, Mr Arjun Singh said he did not know what destiny had in store for him. Though he did not know the whereabouts of his son, he said he (Parmjit Singh Panjwar) was unlikely to surrender. He said when his son had joined the ranks of terrorists, he used to persuade him to shun the path of violence but failed to do so. He said the family had lost connection with Parmjit after 1989. However, they had heard the Panjwar had got married and had two children.

Mr Sarbjit Singh said supporters of various candidates had been distributing “illicit liquor” in the village to woo voters. “they are not leaving anything to chance as the prestige of Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a relative of the Chief Minister and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister, was at stake as both had fielded their confidants.

Banners of various political parties were seen in various parts of the village, giving an impression of hectic election activities in the region. Door-to-door canvassing is also being done by the parties.

Panjar village first came to limelight when its resident, Mr Gurdial Singh Dhillon, became the first Sikh Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Then it was infamous for the hot bed of terrorists as at least 30 militants belonged to this area. Sukhdev Singh, alias Sukha Sipahi, a self-styled chief of the Khalistan Commando Force and cousin of Parmjit Panjwar, who was responsible for the attack on Mr J.F. Rebeiro, the then DGP, also belonged to this village. Parmjit Panjwar became the chief of the KCF after the killing of Kanwaljit Singh Sultanvind.

Though Gen Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, had denied that Parmjit Panjwar had taken shelter in his country, intelligence sources said he was still in Pakistan.

More than a dozen cases relating to murder, treason and conspiracy are still pending against him in India, the intelligence sources said. Parmjit Singh was an ISI operative and continuously trying to revive militancy in the state, they added.


Security cover norms for candidates
1,512 candidates in poll fray
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
Under the security cover norms decided for the candidates contesting the Punjab Assembly elections, those belonging to the recognised and registered parties will have four security personnel each while the remaining candidates will have two security personnel each. The vehicles to these personal guards will be provided by the candidates.

(Incidentally, in Punjab, as per the 1997 line-up of the political parties, there were seven national parties, the INC, the BJP, the CPI, the CPM, the JD, the JP and the SAP, two State parties, the SAD and the BSP and 20 registered parties.)

The decision on the security cover was taken at a meeting the Chief Secretary, Mr N K Arora, held with the Director-General of Police, Mr Sarabjit Singh, and the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr G S Cheema, here today. The State Transport Commissioner, Mr Balbir Singh Sudan, the Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Mrs Usha R Sharma, and the Secretary, Education, Mr R S Sandhu, were among those present. Besides security, several pending issues between the state election office and the government were also discussed.

The main grouse of the election office was that some of the departments neither responded to the directions sent by the Election Commission/state election office nor conveyed the action taken report. The Education Department, for instance, is yet to act upon shifting of officials in the districts who had served for more than four years. The Secretary, Mr Sandhu, however, did say that those District Education Officers and their deputies, who were in their ‘‘home’’ districts, had been shifted.

Meanwhile, the election office has permitted the Punjab State Electricity Board to appoint seven Chief Engineers against vacant posts.

The ministers, Mr Cheema told Tribune News Service, had been allowed to retain their security guards as well as two security vehicles, while, all MLAs were to surrender their vehicles. So far, 59 MLAs had complied with this. At least 10 MLAs were yet to surrender their vehicles. At least four ministers had also been allowed to retain their bullet-proof vehicles with the rider that propulsion charges would be borne by them.

The state is to get 100-odd paramilitary force companies for election purpose.

Meanwhile, Mrs Sharma today said that a total of 1,512 nominations were filed in the state for 117 seats when the time ended on Wednesday evening. The scrutiny of nominations took place today. The withdrawal date is January 28.

A total of 1146 nominations were found in order today after the day-long scrutiny of 1512 nomination papers filed by candidates for the Punjab Assembly elections till Wednesday. According to an official spokesman, the district-wise position is as follows: Amritsar—132; Bathinda— 75; Faridkot— 44; Fatehgarh— 24; Ferozepur— 66; Gurdaspur— 109; Hoshiarpur— 72; Jalandhar— 107; Kapurthala—42; Ludhiana— 100; Mansa—37; Moga— 53; Muktsar—38; Nawanshahr— 28; Patiala— 83; Ropar— 44; Sangrur— 92.

Referring to the complaints received, directly or through the Election Commission, Mrs Sharma said the total complaints, as of today, were 624. The majority had been attended to. The election office, however, is yet to get reports from the Deputy Commissioners, who were on Wednesday asked to explain why they did not take action on long processions when candidates filed their nominations on the last day and why they did not report the matter to the election office.


BJP infighting comes to the fore
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 24
The impact of the division in the state BJP is more visible in the Amritsar (Central) constituency from where firebrand sitting MLA Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla of the party is seeking re-election. Sources in the party said Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, a former state President of the party who belongs to the ‘Tandon group’ has launched a ‘silent campaign’ against Ms Chawla. The sources close to Ms Chawla alleged that personal assistant to Mr Balramji Dass Tandon also met opposition leaders to ensure the defeat of Ms Chawla. However, the Tandon group denied the allegations.

Mr Tandon who belongs to Amritsar had represented Amritsar (Central) in 1977. Party sources said Mr Tandon wanted to shift his Assembly constituency and tried to get a ticket from Amritsar (Central) which was opposed by Ms Chawla.

The poll scenario in Amritsar (Central) stands totally changed after the Congress high command replaced its candidate at the eleventh hour. Now Prof Darbari Lal, a former MLA is the Congress nominee replacing Ms Ratna who had already filed her papers as the Congress candidate. The prospects of Prof Darbari Lal who had represented the constituency in 1980 and 1985 could be adversely affected if Ms Ratna refuses to withdraw her papers. Prof Darbari Lal and Ms Chawla have contested four elections against each other. While Prof Darbari Lal won from this constituency in 1980 and 1985, Ms Chawla won in 1992 and 1997. Mr Ram Lal Khosla of the BSP and Mr Jasbir Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal also announced their decision to contest the elections.

Tarn Taran, which was once a hot bed of militancy would witness multi party contests. The feud between Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Member of Parliament and close relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister has already been made public. Mr Kairon who is not even a member of the SAD (though he succeeded in inducting his son Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon in the Badal Ministry) tried to get an Akali ticket for his close confidant, Mr Harmeet Singh Raniwala but it was denied by the party high command. Mr Brahmpura, however, succeeded in getting an Akali ticket for his close confidant, Mr Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, senior vice-president of the SGPC. To add fuel to the fire, Mr Kairon inaugurated the election office of Mr Harmit Singh. Mr Brahmpura openly criticised Mr Kairon for this ‘anti-Akali’ activities. Mr Brahmpura alleged that some relatives of Mr Badal wanted to damage the prospects of the party by indulging in anti-party activities.

On the other hand, all is not well with the Congress. The official candidate, Mr Gurinder Singh Kairon is being opposed by Congress rebels including Dr Surinder Singh Shahi, Mr Bhagwant Singh Jhabal, Prof Gurwinder Singh Mammanke, Mr Gurminder Singh Ratoul, Mr Manjit Singh Ghasitpura and Mr Manjinder Singh Behla, a former Akali MLA who had recently joined the Congress with a hope to get a party ticket. Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, a sitting Akali MLA would now contest on the Panthic Morcha ticket.

The border constituency of Attari would witness an interesting contest as Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike, State Agriculture Minister is being opposed by his own sister-in-law, Ms Rajpinder Kaur Ranike, who is contesting the election on the Panthic Morcha ticket. Ms Ranike, is the widow of Dalbir Singh a former Akali MLA, who was gunned down by the militants. Mr Rattan Singh Thekedar (Sohal) is the Congress candidate while Mr Puran Chand Sekhon will contest as a BSP (Ambedkar) candidate. Mr Gulzar Singh Khasa, an aspirant for the Congress ticket will oppose the official candidate.

However, the administration finds it difficult to ensure proper elections as a number of voters have shifted to safer places due to heightened tension in the region following army build-up by India and Pakistan.


Amarinder for strong Centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
“It was the demand for autonomy that had put Punjab in deep trouble during the past two decades,” says the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, advocating a strong centre. “We are for fiscal autonomy,” he said maintaining that the Anandpur Sahib resolution of 1973, adopted in Ludhiana in 1978, was the root cause of the turbulence witnessed by the State.

“There is no idea in reopening the old chapters to revive the wounds. In fact, the need of the hour is to let the wounds heal, the PPCC chief said agreeing to the suggestion from some scribes that a White Paper on terrorism in Punjab after June, 1984, should also be brought out.

The PPCC chief also expressed his concern over the prevailing situation on the Indo-Pak border and hoped that through diplomatic channels, work on the de-escalation of tension was progressing smoothly.

“It will be highly immoral for any government to polarise people for the escalation of tension on the border for narrow electoral gains in Uttar Pradesh. This will be highly unfortunate as a war against Pakistan would be greatly detrimental to the people of Punjab who now need stability,” he said .The diversification of agriculture could restructure the agro-economy of the State which was otherwise in a shambles. “If voted to power we would like Dr S.S. Johl to head a high-powered committee to update his 1985 report on the diversification of agriculture in the state. The 1985 report is still relevant,” he said maintaining that the Punjab economy had to be revived by infusing cash flow and tightening the belt by cutting down “wasteful expenditure” quoting the example of the provision of facilities to the families of all former Chief Ministers at state expense.

The PPCC chief announced that his party would launch a massive media campaign from January 26. “We will release our manifesto on January 27 to tell people what we plan to do to make Punjab the number one state again.”

He said the Congress, if voted to power, would constitute a judicial commission to probe in a time-bound manner all cases of corruption, nepotism and favouritism involving the SAD-BJP government to send a message that no one would be spared.

“The message has to go from the top,” he said maintaining that the state needed an efficient and better trained police force and would disallow five to eight recruits with officers playing golf or doing household chores at the residences of the officers.

Criticising the NDA government for its action against Lt-Gen Kapil Vij, the PPCC chief said that the action of the government was “absolutely disgraceful as the General was doing the job required of him. Further, such an action would bring about demoralisation in the force,” he said maintaining that he had known General Vij as his junior in the Army as a “thorough professional and a competent soldier”.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahmed Patel, an AICC observer on a special mission, said that he arrived yesterday for “some party work”. When asked whether he along with the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had been sent to quell “dissidence” in the party over the allotment of the party ticket, he said that he was here to talk to everyone, including the leaders and those who could not get the ticket.

“It is an internal party matter. But my job is to ensure that the Congress performs well in the coming Assembly elections and wins with a two-thirds majority,” he added.


Two favours at the cost of one’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Khanna, January 24
“Two favours at the cost of one” is the motto of an Independent candidate, Mr Bhajan Singh, who filed his nomination papers here yesterday.

“Though he mentioned ‘Muftkhorra Club’ as the name of his party, we are treating him as an Independent,” says Mr Pradeep Sabharwal, Returning Officer for the Khanna Assembly seat, maintaining that “Muftkhorra Club” does not figure in the list of either registered or recognised parties of the Election Commission. His papers were found in order during the scrutiny today.

“I am going to the electorate of Khanna with an offer that I will do their second work or job free,” he says with a pun.

Khanna has also another distinction to its credit. It is perhaps one of few constituencies where the Election Commission guideline on three-vehicle caravan was religiously followed by all candidates at the time of filing of their nominations.

“We had issued clear instructions to all probable candidates that the Election Commission guidelines must be religiously followed and the candidates cooperated,” says Mr Sabharwal, maintaining that filing of nomination papers was a smooth and quiet affair with no dislocation of vehicular traffic or even the work in the office of the Subdivisional Magistrate.

Khanna, he says, is a unique constituency in more than one ways. Interestingly, this assembly segment is spread over two districts — Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib — and six Subdivisions — Payal, Khanna, Samrala, Khamanon, Bassi Pathanan and Amloh .

Meanwhile, three nomination papers were rejected during scrutiny. Two of these — Mr Nirmal Singh and Ms Rajwinder Kaur — were of covering candidates of the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidates.

Though one set of nomination papers of Mr Bachan Singh were rejected as he could not produce authorisation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), his second set of papers filed as an Independent were accepted thus leaving 12 candidates — Mr Rulda Singh (Independent), Mr Randhir Singh (Panthic Morcha), Mrs Harbans Kaur Dulo (Congress), Mrs Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal (Shiromani Akali Dal), Mr Ram Singh (Bahujan Samaj Party), Mr Balraj Singh (Lok Bhalai Party), Mr Ujagar Singh, Mr Harnek Singh and Mr Bhajan Singh (all Independents), Mr Amrik Singh (Shiv Sena) and Mr Gurdip Singh (Rashtriya Lok Dal ) — in the fray.


Brother to contest against sister
Our Correspondent

Sunam, January 24
In protest against the allotment of Congress ticket from the Sunam Assembly constituency to Mrs Sonia Arora, a daughter of late Bhagwan Dass Arora, former Congress MLA, from here, in the current Assembly election, Mr Amandip Arora, a son of Bhagwan Dass Arora, has also decided to contest as an independent from here against her sister as rebel Congress candidate. He filed his nomination papers here yesterday.

Mr Amandip Arora talking to reporters here last night, accused the Congress high command of flouting norms while allotting ticket to Mrs Sonia Arora for the Sunam Assembly seat as she was neither a primary member of the Congress nor a resident of Sangrur district at present. He also blamed Mr Randip Singh Surjewala, President of the All India Youth Congress, for playing a significant role in the allotment of ticket to her sister to create rift in the Arora family.

Mr Arora also claimed that Mr Motilal Vora, Incharge of Punjab Congress Affairs, had admitted that Congress ticket to Mrs Sonia Arora had been given “wrongly” and in haste. He added that Mr Vora also assured him that he would talk to Mrs Sonia Gandhi about his claim on the Sunam seat.

He also stated that he had a serious objection to the allotment of Congress ticket to his sister who had not even applied for it from Sunam. He further said the Congress high command had ignored all 17 applicants for the Sunam seat though many of them were eligible for it.

He also stated that he would contest the Assembly election as an Independent candidate without resigning from the primary membership of the Congress as had been desired by his supporters. He also stated that in case he won the election, he would offer to the Congress party to accept him as an MLA of the Congress party. He had also requested to the Congress high command to review its decision to change its candidate, Mrs Sonia Arora, in the larger interests of the party and ensure victory of the Congress on the Sunam seat. Congress would face a “shameful defeat”, if it did not review decision of candidate from the Sunam seat.


AICC leader’s charge against CM
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 24
Mr Ashwani Kumar, chairman, intellectual cell of the AICC and senior advocate of the Supreme Court told reporters here today that the SAD-BJP government had failed to properly represent Punjab’s case regarding the distribution of the river waters as a result of which the Punjab Government had been directed to complete the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal in the state in a year. He added that the decision had given rise to a constitutional problem.

Mr Kumar said if the Congress was voted to power in Punjab it would file a review petition regarding the implementation of the Eradi Tribunal’s decision.

Mr Kumar said Mr Badal had never been serious about Punjab’s share in the distribution of the river waters from the beginning. He was in a hurry to accept Rs 2 crore from Haryana for the construction of the SYL canal. However, he had refuted it many times.

Mr Kumar said when the Congress came to know about the said payment, its leaders criticised Mr Badal for the wrong action. The Congress Executive had passed a resolution impressing upon the central government not to concede river waters of Punjab to Haryana because Punjab was already short of irrigation water and could not spare even a drop of it.

Commenting on the claim of the SAD-BJP government of being a guardian of farmers, Mr Kumar said the performance of the government had been dismal. Mr Kumar said the Congress in its manifesto had promised to improve the economic status of Punjab and revive industrialisation for employment generation. Its major thrust would be on information-technology and service industry.

Mr Kumar said the party chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, was expected to campaign for Congress candidates in Punjab for two days. He said the party when voted to power would provide a clean and corruption-free government.


45 Sarpanches desert SAD
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 24
The electioneering of Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, a Congress nominee from the Bholath Assembly constituency, has got a boost with more than 45 prominent workers and leaders of the SAD leaving the party and deciding to support Mr Khaira.

Those who have left SAD include Sarpanches and former Sarpanches of the villages falling under the Bholath Assembly seat.

Prominent among those who have left the party are Dr Mehar Singh, senior vice-president of the district Akali jatha, Mr Ranjit Singh Rajpur, general secretary of the jatha, Mr Yudhveer Singh Rana, Sarpanch of Dhaliwal village, Mr Jasbir Singh, Sarpanch (Ramidi), Mr Swaran Singh, Sarpanch (Butam), Mr Randhir Singh, Sarpanch (Nizampur), Ms Maya Kaur, Sarpanch (Hambowal), Mr Gurdial Singh, Sarpanch (Tajpur), Mr Bagga Singh, Sarpanch (Paharipur), Mr Mohinder Singh, Sarpanch (Nihalgarh), Mr Hari Singh, Sarpanch (Bulewal), Mr Tirlochan Singh, Sarpanch (Billpur), Mr Darshan Singh, Sarpanch (Sheruwal Talwandi), Mr Amrik Singh, Sarpanch (Husewal Talwandi, Mr Rattan Singh, Sarpanch’s (Butala), Mr Gurcharan Singh Musakhel, Ms Bhajan Kaur Sarpanch (Dabulian), Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Sarpanch (Matle), Ms Surinder Kaur, Sarpanch (Bajaj), Mr Mohinder Pal, Sarpanch (Gadani), Mr Mohinder Singh, Sarpanch (Subhanpur), Mr Amrik Singh, Sarpanch (Chogawan), Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Sarpanch (Khole), Mr Puran Singh, Sarpanch (Sangowal), Mr Jaswant Kaur Sarpanch (Bhatnura) and large number of former panches sarpanches.

Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who is contesting against Ms Jagir Kaur, former president, of the SGPC and thw SAD nominee from the Bholath constituency welcomed these workers and leaders to the congress.


Fissures in Panthic Morcha
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 24
Fissures have appeared in the Panthic Morcha here. While SAD(A), a constituent of the morcha, has fielded its candidate Mr Baldev Choudhary from the Phagwara (Reserved) Assembly constituency, the entire local leadership of SHSAD, another constituent of the morcha, has declared its support to Mr Harbhajan Singh Balalon, the BSP candidate.

Even the honeymoon between the Panthic Morcha and the BSP appeared to be short-lived as Dr Harjinder Jakhu, General Secretary, SAD (A) and a senior morcha leader today vented his ire against the BSP Supremo Mr Kanshi Ram accusing the latter of doing a secret deal with the Punjab CM, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the BJP.

Mr Kanshi Ram has fielded over hundred BSP candidates in Punjab and was also responsible for the inconclusive alliance with the morcha whose leaders had made a sincere effort for an alliance, alleged Dr Jakhu. Under the secret deal, the BSP would have an agreement with the BJP after the UP elections and as a quid pro quo it won’t harm the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab, he alleged. Mr Kanshi Ram has wriggled out of the alliance to benefit Badal and the BJP. We won’t support the BSP, said Dr Jakhu.

However, senior SHSAD leader Mr Rajwant Singh Jhikka, district general secretary, Mr Harbel Singh Pahwa, block-president, Mr Avtar Singh Bhungrani, state general secretary, youth wing of the party, and a dozen other leaders announced their unequivocal support to the BSP candidate, Mr Balalon.


Bhalwan quits morcha, joins SAD
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, January 24
The Panthic Morcha, particularly the SHSAD, suffered a big jolt today when Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhalwan, SGPC member and confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SHSAD President, resigned from the primary membership of the party and joined the SAD in the presence of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, and the Secretary-General of the SAD, Mr Gurcharan Singh Fatehgarh, among others.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Bhalwan charged the Panthic Morcha with fielding its candidates only to help the Congress and to harm the SAD. He said he was quitting the party in protest against the wrong policies of the morcha.

He denied that he had left the party as he had been refused ticket from the Dhuri Assembly constituency. However, he admitted that he had applied for ticket from Dhuri.

Mr Dhindsa called upon other leaders and workers of the morcha to join the SAD.


Ticket allotment norm ‘violated’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 24
Mr Kulwant Rai Aggarwal, senior vice-president, District Congress Committee (DCC), who has jumped into the election arena as a rebel candidate against the official candidate of the party, Mr Surinder Singla, said the contest was between an “insider” and an “outsider”.

While talking to mediapersons here today he said he had decided to contest the elections against the party candidate to express the resentment prevailing among workers against the violations made by the Selection Committee constituted by the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) in the allotment of ticket. Apart from it, a major section of the Congress workers of this Assembly segment and commoners, cutting across party lines, had started campaigning for him on their own.


Candidates told to paste stickers on vehicles
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 24
The candidates contesting the Assembly election are required to intimate the authorities concerned about the vehicles used for campaigning and get special stickers, which are to be pasted on their vehicles so that the expenditure on vehicles could be accounted for. Any vehicle, including scooters, three-wheelers, autorikshaws, tractor-trolleys, cars, jeeps and trucks etc. which sport a flag, sticker or any such item bearing the name of a candidate or his or her party would be considered part of the convoy of vehicles canvassing for that particular candidate.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner convened a meeting of candidates and representatives of political parties to make them aware of the latest guidelines of the Election Commission here today. Three central observers Mr C.K. Sinha (Expenditure), Mr A.P. Srivastava and Mr Sanjeev Kumar (both general), Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, Mr DPS Kharbanda, ADC (D), Mr Darshan Singh ADC and election officers of the Assembly segments were present on the occasion.


GSP’s anti-quota agenda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 24
Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, who has been fielded by the newly floated General Samaj Party (GSP) from this constituency, said the main plank of the party would be putting an end to the caste-based reservation extended to the creamy layer, in some cases.

Mr Sidhu, who has started door-to-door campaign in the constituency, alleged that no political party would ever put an end to reservation in the country due to vested interests. He said while freedom fighters enjoyed the benefits of reservations only for three generations, the caste-based reservation was still being continued and even wards of top bureaucrats were availing the benefit.

He claimed that statistically it could be proved that only a handful of people were enjoying the real benefits of reservation, while those for whom the policies were really meant were still figuring among the downtrodden sections of society.


Scrutiny of nomination papers
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 24
After scrutiny of the nomination papers for the Kharar and the Morinda Assembly segments, papers of at least five candidates for the Morinda seat and 12 candidates for the Kharar seat were cleared by the respective Returning Officers.

According to information available, prominent among those whose papers have been cleared for the Kharar seat are Mr Bir Devinder Singh (Congress), Mr Rajbir Singh Patiala (Panthic Morcha), Mr H.S. Gharuan (Independent), Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu (Independent), Mr Bhupinder Singh (NCP) and Ms Gurmeet Kaur, (Janta Dal). The nomination papers of five candidates, including the candidate of Ramgaria Sabha, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, were rejected.

For the Morinda seat, nomination papers of Manjeet Singh, covering candidate of Mr Ujaggar Singh Wadali, of the SAD and Ms Ravinder Kaur, covering candidate of Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, of the Congress, were rejected.


Rumours not to hit Cong unity: Brar
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 24
The rumours of factionalism in the Punjab Congress are being spread by the SAD to create a bad image of the party in the mind of electorates.

This was stated by Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, Congress candidate from the Mukstar Assembly constituency, while addressing rallies in the city and Jhabelwali, Bamanwalan, Takhtmalan and Kasewali villages.


Vedanti prays for world peace
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 24
In a significant gesture, the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today delivered an emotive speech and prayed for world peace at the Vatican on the occasion of “day for peace in the world.”

He espoused the virtues as imbibed in Sikhism of non-discrimination. “The amalgam of writings by Hindus, Muslims and other great saints in Sikh scriptures is proof enough of its greatest strength in mutual and harmonious co-existence of all religious communities,” he said, in the presence of Pope John Paul-II.

Copies of the speech at the Vatican by the Jathedar were released to mediapersons by the Sikh secretariat.

While denigrating the mass produce of weapons of destruction, the Jathedar proposed that Western nations should share their prosperity with other developing countries instead of squandering a fortune on creating conflicts, thus producing mass markets for selling their products.

He said world peace could only become a reality after deep-rooted grudges were removed.

Merely creating “world coalitions” could not discount or suppress the weak tribes, nations and religious communities that take to terrorism and guerrilla warfare in an attempt to feel superior by spewing venom on those who portray their invincibility.

He urged the United Nations to take concrete steps to remove conflicts.

He said the danger of a clash between civilisations was looming large, posing the biggest challenge to world peace and harmony.

Addressing his concern for these communities, he asserted that their problems need to be addressed.

Rounding off his prayers, he said Sikhism stood for equality.


SYL: BKU threatens stir
Our Correspondent

Moga ,January 24
Members of the Punjab unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) today criticised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for his failure to solve the SYL canal issue and said the union would launch a statewide stir even if a single drop of water was given to any of the neighbouring states.

Stating this at a press conference, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian and Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahnari general secretaries of the union, said the state was already facing shortage of water. They urged Mr Badal to resign from the Chief Ministership as he had failed to solve the problems of farmers.

They said the farmers would suffer heavily if water was given to Haryana as ground water level in Punjab had gone about 150 feet down. The leaders urged the farmers to join hands with them on this issue.


Army recruitment from Feb 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The Sikh Regimental Centre, Ramgarh, will organise a recruitment rally in Chandimandir from February 4 to 24 for the selection of soldiers (general duty and clerk), a statement issued here said.

The recruitment of candidates from Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Kapurthala districts of Punjab would be held on February 4 and 5, from Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and Nawanshahr districts on February 6 and 7 and from Ludhiana, Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda and Moga districts on February 8 and 9,

Candidates from Ferozepore, Mansa, Muktsar and Faridkot districts of Punjab and from Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and other states would be recruited on February 10-11. Candidates from Jammu and Kashmir and the Kandi area would be recruited on February 12, while wards of ex-servicemen would be recruited on February 13. The recruitment for clerks would be done on February 14 and 15. A written test would be held on February 24.


Farmers’ Training Centre a shambles

Amritsar, January 24
Following the auction of vehicles by the government, the Farmers’ Training Centre at Khalsa College is awaiting sanction of vehicles to carry out its functions which include creating awareness among farmers about the latest farming techniques and bringing benefits of the green revolution to the grassroots level by holding camps in villages.

The failure to provide the vehicles has hampered the work of the centre which is already in a shambles due to lack of funds. Even Khalsa College where the centre is situated and which receives the government grant-in-aid for the centre is not ready to adopt it. Admitting the fund-crunch faced by the centre’s Dr M.S. Dhillon, Principal, Khalsa College, said he had asked the authorities to merge the centre with the Agriculture Department but his request was rejected.


11 DSPs shifted
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 24
The Punjab police has ordered transfers of 11 Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs). Mr Baljit Singh Randhawa has been transferred from Fathegarh-Churian (Gurdaspur) to Kapurthala, Mr Dharanjit Singh from Batala to the PAP, Mr Pardeep from Zira to Intelligence Wing, Chandigarh, Mr Bhupinderjit Singh from Patiala to the Election cell, Chandigarh, Mr Upinderjit Singh Ghuman from Jalandhar to Intelligence wing (Punjab), Chandigarh, Mr Narinder Pal Singh to the PAP, Mr Narinder Kaushal from the Vigilance Bureau, Chandigarh to Jalandhar, Mr Paramjit Singh from Goraya to Dahlon, Mr Sarabjit Singh from Moga to Sangrur, Mr Sukhminder Singh from Amritsar to Gurdaspur and Mr Dharam Singh Uppal from Jalandhar City to the PAP.


Probe ordered into dyke breach
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 24
The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, has directed the SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, and the Executive Engineer of the Punjab Pollution Control Board to look into the cause of breach in the ash dyke of the Ropar thermal plant and the possible ecological hazard posed by it. At a press conference here today, Mr Grewal said the inquiry had been order after taking notice of the news item published in the columns of The Tribune.


Hacked to death by husband
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 24
Mrs Sukhwinder Kaur was allegedly murdered by her husband Manohar Singh with kirpan. She was resident of Guru Arjan Dev Nagar here.

According to the FIR the police party while patrolling the locality heard shouts of a woman. On reaching spot, they saw Monohar Singh attacking his wife. He reportedly fled the spot after seeing the police. Injured Sukhwinder was admitted to the hospital where she died later. A case has been registered under Section 302 of the IPC.

Meanwhile another woman Parveen Kaur of Sudarshan Nagar was crushed to death when a bus (PB-02-K-8974) collided with Kinetic Honda by which she was returning home. A case has been registered. Bus driver has absconded.

In another incident, Sarbjeet Singh a resident of Police Colony (lines) was seriously injured when Jangbeer Singh, Gurdarshan Singh, Jasbeer Singh, Gurcharan Singh of same area allegedly attacked him. In his complaint lodged at Sultanwind police station he alleged that the three accused forcibly took him to their ‘Haveli’ and attcked him with ‘gandasa’ and ‘dangs’ when he demanded his starter back which they had taken out of his house. After that accused reportedly fled the spot.

The police recovered 18 litres of illicit liquor and apprehended Joginder Singh and Anil Kumar of Maude village and Sultanwind, respectively, in this regard. One car bearing (PB-02-P-4707) was also stolen by an unidentified person from the house of Sumita Sood of Green Avenue here. A case has been registered.


KU diploma holders denied jobs
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 24
Students from Punjab, who have done their Certificate Course in Physical Education (C.P.Ed) from Kurukshetra University, (Haryana), are finding it difficult to get government jobs in their home state as the government concerned has allegedly declared the diploma ‘invalid’.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the government had advertised 350 posts of Physical Training Instructor (PTI) in March, 2001. It was said in the advertisement that all those who had passed their diplomas in physical education after class X would be eligible for the job, besides other conditions that had to be satisfied by the candidates. The problem arose when candidates started getting interview call letters except those who had passed their C.P.Ed examination from Kurukshetra University.

The candidates, who had suffered due to the decision, pointed out that Punjabi University, Patiala, had earlier started the same course, but it was discontinued about 12 years ago. When Mr M.L. Ranga was the Vice-chancellor Kurukshetra University, the course was started with the permission of the state government and the University Grants Commission (UGC). When the controversy erupted Mr Ranga wrote a letter to the Punjab Education Secretary stating that the students who had passed the C.P.Ed. exams from Kurukshetra University had higher basic qualification than those required by the Punjab Government. While the Punjab Government had put the minimum educational qualification as class X, the same was put at class plus two by Kurukshetra University.

Moreover, no formal notification was issued by the Punjab Government stating that the C.P.Ed. diploma awarded by Kurukshetra University was ‘invalid’. Many students who had passed the C.P.Ed. examination from Kurukshetra University had been appointed PTIs only under the compassionate case category. The students lamented that they had given representations to the Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh and also met the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, but nothing concrete had happened so far.

One of the affected students, Gagandeep Singh (name changed), said while all other degrees and diplomas of Kurukshetra University were declared valid for the purpose of employment by the Punjab Government, only the C.P.Ed. of course had been declared invalid.

Mr Tarsem Singh Piouri, president of the Unemployed PTIs Teachers Union (Kurukshetra University trained), alleged that while those had done their course from other than Kurukshetra University had been given appointment letters by the government they were denied jobs on “flimsygrounds.”

One of the officers at Chandigarh said as the diploma had been declared ‘invalid’ by the Punjab Government, the diploma holders could not be appointed.

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