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Monday, September 7, 1998
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Bhalai Manch as party soon
Tribune News Service

CHHAPAR (Ludhiana), Sept 6 — The Punjab Bhalai Manch, an organisation floated by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, a former Union Minister, will be transformed into a political party.

This was stated by Mr Ramoowalia while addressing a large gathering on the occasion of the famous Chhapar Mela here today. A formal convention of the manch is scheduled to be held at Ludhiana where it will be framed into a political party on November 23.

In a hard hitting speech, Mr Ramoowalia made a scathing attack on the SAD-BJP government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, which he said had failed on all fronts. The hopes and aspirations of the people, who expected a lot from the government had been dashed. There was complete erosion of confidence of the people in the government which had lost all its credibility.

Mr Ramoowalia said the only aim of the government was how to project and protect the political growth of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal in every manner. May it be employment, alleviation of poverty or general socio-economic welfare of the people the government performance at best could be described as dismal.

It was alleged by the Manch leaders that even for the conference the police had been asked to create obstacles. But the presence of a large number of people belied the government claims that the conference was a failure.

Mr Ramoowalia assured the audience that in times to come the Manch would act as a shield to safeguard the vital interests of the state and its people. He took the opportunity to lambast the SAD-BJP government's anti-people policies, including setting up of a dairy development board. Punjab was today suffering from indebtedness leading to suicides.



Tohra warns Congress, Ramoowalia
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

CHHAPAR (Ludhiana district), Sept 6 — Top Akali leadership today fired a broadside against the Congress and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP, for trying to mislead and incite people against the Badal government.

Addressing a political conference held here on the occasion of the annual Chhapar Mela, the Akali leaders, including Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh, cautioned the people against the machinations of the Congress party and its agents, who, they alleged, were responsible for all the ills of Punjab and Punjabis.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra went to the extent of warning the Congressmen and Mr Ramoowalia that if they "did not behave" and tried to disturb law and order in the state, they would be dealt with strongly." The people of Punjab have not forgotten how the Akalis used to be treated when the Congress was in power," Mr Tohra said. "On numerous occasions, our political conferences were banned and restrictions placed on our movements for no particular reason..." The Akali Dal was a democratic party and had faith in democracy. Therefore, it did not want to interfere in the legitimate political activities of any party. But if the Congressmen tried to disrupt the normal life in the state, steps would be taken to maintain peace and tranquility, he declared.

The SGPC chief declared that the Akali Dal was here to stay and the Badal government would complete its full five-year term.

The Chief Minister, was more restrained in his utterances but he too minced no words in criticising the Congressmen and Mr Ramoowalia who "even though pretended to belong to different political outfits, yet spoke the same language". Interestingly, while all the Akali leaders concentrated their firepower on the Congress and Mr Ramoowalia, none made any reference to the rival Akali Dal supremo, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

Mr Mann as also the Congress party and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia's Punjab Bhalai Manch organised their political conferences at the fair. They too attracted big crowds.

Mr Badal said the Congress had ruled the country the most after attaining independence and it was during its years in office that the policy of discrimination against Punjab was framed, fine-tuned and perpetuated. Punjab was first denied reorganisation on linguistic basis and then deprived of its capital, Punjabi-speaking areas and control over its river waters. No heavy industry was allowed to be located in Punjab. All this was now sought to be removed by the Akali-BJP government.

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