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Saturday, August 28, 1999
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Temporal battle of religious leaders
TARN TARAN: Khakh and Thatha — the ancestral villages of Giani Puran Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, falling in Tarn Taran police district. The personal prestige of them is at stake in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Especially in the Tarn Taran constituency.

SAD mum on Art 370 abrogation
CHANDIGARH, Aug 27 — Manifestos are universally notorious for platitudes and promises. Nevertheless, these do tell about the ideological and political thinking of different parties. Also, these reveal the shifting positions which the parties take during each successive elections.

Punjab mapAmritsar

Badal projects Sharma as Dy PM
PALSORA (Chandigarh), Aug 27 — Terming the foreign origin of Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi as the "biggest issue" and a "deciding factor" in the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said tonight that it was for the people to decide whether they wanted a "foreigner" or one who was one of them to head the nation.
50 years on indian independence 50 years on indian independence 50 years on indian independence
50 years on indian independence


SAD ignores local issues
BATHINDA: Before the 1997 general assembly elections, the SAD (Badal) leaders used to seek votes by raising the issue of danger to the "Panth".



Who is Ludhiana DCC chief?
LUDHIANA, Aug 27 — Who is the president of the Ludhiana District Congress Committee (Urban)?

BBMB in dire financial straits
NANGAL, Aug 27 — The Bhakra Beas Management Board is in dire financial straits. All payments, including gratuity, loans, advance payments from the provident fund etc have been put on hold on the instructions of the finance department of the BBMB.

Punjab told to pay 1.5 lakh to torture victim
CHANDIGARH, July 16 — The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab government to give a sum of Rs 1.5 lakh by way of interim compensation to Mr Kashmira Singh, a resident of Gurdaspur district, who was illegally detained by the Punjab police and subjected to third degree methods.

A town without drains, sewers
RAMPURAPHUL: The residents of this town in Bathinda district known as "town of blood donors" are living in miserable conditions due to lack of basic amenities.

PBW-343 wheat variety praised
LUDHIANA, Aug 27 — During the rabi season of 1998-99 India produced a record 73 million tonnes of wheat. This was disclosed by Dr Mangla Rai, Deputy Director General (crop Science), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi.

2 KLF militants arrested
MOGA, Aug 27 — Two militants of the Khalistan Liberation Force were arrested during a "naka’’ at a drain near Rode village last night and recovered two pistols along with ammunition from them.

Sangathan to back Badal’s son
CHANDIGARH, Aug 27 — The Ex-Servicemen Sangathan, N-W Zone, has decided to extend its support to the SAD-BJP nominee, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, contesting the Faridkot parliamentary constituency.



Temporal battle of religious leaders
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

TARN TARAN: Khakh and Thatha — the ancestral villages of Giani Puran Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, falling in Tarn Taran police district. The personal prestige of them is at stake in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Especially in the Tarn Taran constituency. While Bhai Ranjit Singh ahs been campaigning, Giani Puran Singh made oblique appeals to voters to defeat those forces. Mr Tohra who wanted to disturb the law and order situation in the state by raising inflammatory slogans.

From a convict to highest spiritual authority of the Sikhs and now election campaigning, Bhai Ranjit Singh has come a long way. He was appointed Jathedar Akal Takht in June 1990, while he was undergoing life imprisonment for murdering Nirankari chief, Baba Gurbachan Singh. He was formally appointed Jathedar on October 1996 after his release from the Tihar jail. After a few months of his installation as Jathedar on December 31, 1996, he became controversial by issuing certain hukmnamas (edicts). He was then placed under suspension on February 10, 1999, by 10 pro-Badal executive members. After a few months he was removed from the post.

Earlier, his appointment as Jathedar was observed as master stroke of the then SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who was attacked in May 1990 by militants. On the one hand, the resignation of Prof Darshan Singh — the then Jathedar Akal Takht who had differences with him (Mr Tohra) was accepted, on the other the militant outfits were mollified.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, who has been claiming that he was still the Jathedar has now announced that he would withdraw this claim if the candidates of Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, BSP, SAD (Panthic), SAD (Amritsar) and SAD (Democratic) would be defeated at the hands of the SAD-BJP candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. The former Jathedar who is confident that the candidates for whom he has been intensively campaigning would definitely defeat the Congress and SAD-BJP candidates.

However, Bhai Ranjit Singh hastens to add that in case the voters would give the mandate to the SHSAD, BSP and other factions of the rival Akali Dal candidates, he would stop claiming himself to be Akal Takht Jathedar. In that case, I, would continue to oppose Mr Parkash Singh Badal who had allegedly denigrated Akal Takht.

Bhai Ranjit Singh said he had to campaign for the political persons due to Mr Badal attack on the institution of Akal Takht.

Addressing the election rallies, Bhai Ranjit Singh makes it clear that he has been fighting a proxy war. "Your votes would decide once and for all who is real Jathedar of Akal Takht", he asks the voters.

Though Bhai Ranjit Singh has already covered many Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, including Faridkot where Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of the Chief Minister is seeking re-election, yet he has spared most of the time for the Tarn Taran Lok Sabha constituency.Top


Badal party manifesto
SAD mum on Art 370 abrogation
By Gobind Thukral
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 27 — Manifestos are universally notorious for platitudes and promises. Nevertheless, these do tell about the ideological and political thinking of different parties. Also, these reveal the shifting positions which the parties take during each successive elections.

The Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has belatedly come out with a manifesto for the current Lok Sabha elections. It marks another shift from the Dal's known position repeatedly stated in Anandpur Sahib resolution. Mr Badal now speaks of "Cooperative federalism" to preserve the rich cultural, linguistic, social and religious diversity in the country. The Anandpur Sahib resolution spoke in detail about sharing of power with the Centre. What the Centre should manage and what should be left to the states? It had said that defence, foreign affairs, currency and communications should be with the Centre and the rest, everything, with the states. It had sought India to be a lose federation. In fact there are two versions, one of 1973 and another of 1978. This resolution became the basis for the appointment of the Sarkaria Commission on devolution of powers.

More recently in 1998, the Akali Dal had sought the scrapping of Article 356, recasting it to favour the states with more powers and also in matter of appointment of Governors, the consent of the Chief Minister concerned should be compulsory. Interestingly this manifesto has again committed the much-touted promise of appointing a high-level commission to go into the decade-long violence in Punjab promised in 1996.

While the last manifesto spoke about launching a peaceful struggle to fulfil demands like river waters, Chandigarh and to claim Punjabi-speaking areas left in Haryana and Himachal, now Mr Badal only speaks about the Akali Dal's commitment to these demands.

There is also marked new definition of the old Anandpur Sahib resolution. The new manifesto lays stress to eliminate policies of corruption, confrontation and opportunism, which according to the Akali Dal are the hallmark of the Congress politics. It means that the days of confrontation on the contentious issues with the Centre are over and now an era of constructive approach has dawned. It is a big leap from the Amritsar resolution or the Khalistan resolution to which Mr Badal was also a signatory. The present manifesto without talking about the Moga conference resolution of Punjabiat still reitrates that. The stress is on stability and peace.

But the manifesto clearly demarcates itself from the manifesto of the National Democratic Alliance when it lays stress on federalism. The NDA manifesto is silent except saying that the Constitution needs to be recast and a commission would be appointed. This would deal as BJP leaders have explained later with the term of the Lok Sabha and the mode of no-confidence motion.

The Akali Dal is silent as far as the abrogation of Article 370 and Common Civil Code is concerned. A BJP ideologue has minced no words about it. Earlier the Akali Dal had been consistently opposing this. Also missing are the commitments of the Akalis for minorities and their rights and Sikh personal law. The NDA manifesto, of course, talks about reconciliation with the minorities.

This manifesto clearly represents the political compulsions of a party that now rules Punjab and is an ally of the ruling coalition at the Centre, and more recently a friend has come to rule in Haryana. Here one cannot be very strident about the contentious issues like river waters, territory and, of course, a lose federal political set-up. One has to talk about cooperative federalism, more fiscal powers, stability and peace. The contentious issues and a hard struggle- oriented approach is left to leaders like Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and his ilk.Top


Badal projects Sharma as Dy PM
By Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

PALSORA (Chandigarh), Aug 27 — Terming the foreign origin of Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi as the "biggest issue" and a "deciding factor" in the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said tonight that it was for the people to decide whether they wanted a "foreigner" or one who was one of them to head the nation.

Addressing his first election rally in the Union Territory in Palsora village, Mr Badal asserted that people would not accept a " foreigner" for the highest and the most responsible post in the country. Lashing out at Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mr Badal said though she was married to an Indian, she had never uttered a single word about being proud to be an Indian.

"How can you consider a person an Indian, who has been mentioning in different documents including her passport that she was an Italian," emphasised Mr Badal in an apparent effort to win people over by focussing on the single issue. Mr Badal added that the aspirant for the post of PM should be the one with "years of experience".

Taking a dig at the "political wisdom" of Mrs Gandhi, Mr Badal said her "statesmanship" could be judged from the fact that she preferred to boycott an all-party meeting called by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to discuss the Kargil issue. "Instead of attending the meeting she issued a statement that the reasons behind the Kargil conflict should be found first." When one’s house on fire does one find the reasons first or try to put out the fire?" He asked saying this was a reflection of her attitude towards national problems.

Exhibiting a sense of humour, Mr Badal said, in a way he was happy when he came to know about the fall of the Vajpayee government. "The pre-fall situation was such that any party having three seats would press for acquiring governorships," he said pointing towards Ms Jayalalitha." We had gone to such an extent to appease her that though she was devoid of any official capacity our Defence Minister had to go to the airport to welcome her for an allies meeting." "She sucked our blood. But now as we will get about 320-345 seats, such a situation will not occur." He did his level best to project Mr K.L. Sharma, the SAD-BJP candidate for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat as Deputy Prime Minister in the next government to be .

Mr Sharma expressed the hope that his party would win the poll with a two third majority. Mr Satya Pal Jain, former MP said that collective efforts should be made to eliminate the Periphery Control Act, which had become outdated and had resulted in a number of problems for residents, particularly at a time when the city was facing an acute housing shortage.Top


SAD ignores local issues
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA: Before the 1997 general assembly elections, the SAD (Badal) leaders used to seek votes by raising the issue of danger to the "Panth".

In 1997, the SAD (Badal) which entered into a poll alliance with the BJP got a massive mandate from the electorate by projecting Mr Parkash Singh Badal as a true soldier of the "Panth, Punjab and Punjabiat". In the 1998, Lok Sabha poll the SAD-BJP candidates made a clean sweep in Punjab by raising the slogans of Hindu-Sikh unity and secularisation of the state politics.

With the poll scene warming up with each passing day the SAD (Badal) leaders are now raising the issue of "swadeshi versus videshi" to woo voters in favour of the SAD-BJP candidates in the Malwa region comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Faridkot, Moga, Sangrur, Patiala, Ropar and Ludhiana districts.

Local issues are not part of the Akali campaign where the message "vote to make Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee Prime Minister" is being pressed home.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal who has been addressing a series of election meetings in various constituencies of Punjab every day, is trying to make the electorate understand the difference between a "swadeshi PM and videshi PM" apart from urging the voters to vote in favour of the SAD-BJP candidates due to the achievements of the Punjab Government on development side.

On the other hand, the Congress, the CPI and the CPM alliance partners have been asking people to vote against the SAD-BJP combine to defeat the communal forces in the country. They are claiming that only the Congress can give "much-needed stability to the country. Leaders of this alliance are also raising local issues apart from the issue of the failure of SAD-BJP government in Punjab on all fronts and rampant corruption.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who parted company with Mr Badal a few months ago and floated a new party is taking SAD-BJP alliance as enemy number one. He has been urging the voters to teach a lesson to Mr Badal for lowering the dignity of Akal Takht. He has also been accusing Mr Badal of police excesses and corruption in the state for his (Mr Badal) political vested interests.

The Malwa region, which is known for shaping the political contours of the state, is again witnessing some of the interesting contests where the career of political bigwigs of Punjab is at stake.

In Patiala, it is a battle of political survival for AISAD chief Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and PPCC President, Mr Amrinder Singh as his wife Mrs Parneet Kaur and Mr Tohra’s confidant, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra are locked in a triangular contest. In Faridkot, Mr Badal is also finding the hustings as a battle of political survival as his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal is facing a tough challenge from Congress candidate, Mr Jagmeet Brar.

The relevance of the CPI and the CPM which are contesting one seat each in the state is also on test in the Malwa region as Mr Bhan Singh Bhora of the CPI is contesting from the Bathinda (reserve) and Professor Ajit Singh of the CPM from Sangrur with the support of the Congress.Top


Dhumal lashes out at Cong
From Tribune Reporters

FARIDKOT, Aug 27 — Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has cautioned people to beware of the tactics of the Congress party. During the past 20 years the Congress had forced seven mid-term Lok Sabha elections on the nation to grab power, resulting in a burden of thousands of crores of rupees on the country.

Addressing an election rally here last evening in support of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Union Minister of state for industries and son of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is the SAD-BJP candidate from Faridkot parliamentary constituency, Mr Dhumal lashed out at successive Congress governments which failed to free the 32,000-km-long territory captured by China during the India-China war of 1962. Corruption, nepotism, poverty and unemployment reached their peak due to the wrong policies of the Congress, added Mr Dhumal. He appealed to the people to exercise their franchise in favour of the BJP and its allies to bring an effective central government under the leadership of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Counting the large number of development works done in this constituency during his 13-month tenure, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal gave an assurance to augment the power supply system in the next one year in the entire constituency. A sum of rupees more than 10 crore had already been granted to improve sewerage at Kotkapura and Moga. Mr Badal said the Congress candidate, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, never remained loyal to any political party and did nothing for the welfare of Faridkot when he was from 1992 to 1996.

MALERKOTLA: Mr Dhumal has appealed to voters to give a crushing defeat to the anti-national and separatist forces in the Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a large gathering at a rally in support of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala at Ahmedgarh, 20 km from here, yesterday, Mr Dhumal appealed to the electorate to vote for the SAD-BJP candidate.

Mr Dhumal accused the Congress of misleading the people on the Kargil issue. He said it was as a result of the firm stand taken by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee that the brave jawans could flush out Pakistani intruders from Kargil and other sectors. On the other hand, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Congress president, in her speeches on the Kargil issue had tried to lower the morale of the Indian Army. He alleged that Congress leaders were power hungry and whenever the other parties formed government at the Centre the Congress leaders managed to topple the government by some means.

Mr Dhumal alleged the Congress was responsible for the current elections and thus putting a burden of Rs 1,000 crore on the public. He appealed to the people to vote in favour of Mr Barnala from the Sangrur constituency.

Addressing the rally, Mr Barnala alleged that Mr Simranjit Singh Mann was responsible for the 10 years of "black day" in Punjab. He said now Mr Mann's visits to Hindu families for votes was nothing but an election stunt. He appealed to the voters not to vote for separatist forces. He said the vote should be for unity, peace and prosperity in the state.Top


Tohra dancing to Cong tune: Badal
From Tribune Reporters

LUDHIANA, Aug 27 — Apart from being a person of foreign origin, the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, was totally inexperienced, said Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who is also the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

He said that even for driving a vehicle, one had to get a driving licence for which a learner's licence is also essential. "How can we think of handing over the country to a novice," he asked, Mr Badal was addressing an election meeting here at Chowk Sabzimandi. He said Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee was the best choice for Prime Ministership.

He alleged that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was dancing to the Congress tune with whom he was hand in glove in an attempt to divide the Sikh votes. Later while talking to mediapersons he refuted the charge that the official machinery was being misused to benefit the Akali-BJP candidates in the state.

KHANNA: The Congress is responsible for the midterm Lok Sabha poll. Crores of rupees which would be spent on poll could have been otherwise spent on the development of the country. Mr Badal said this while addressing a rally at Guru Amardas Market here today in favour of Ms Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, Akali candidate from Ropar. Mr Badal today lashed out at the Congress for its alleged 'irresponsible behaviour in promoting Mrs Sonia Gandhi for prime ministership. He said a single mistake of an inexperienced Prime Minister could cost dear for the nation.

Mr Bachan Singh Cheema, MLA, Mr Sadhu Singh Ghudani, MLA, Raja Narinder Singh, minister Devinder Singh Cheema also spoke.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: It would be biggest blunder to choose Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister, and to vote for the Congress is just like a sin, because it had been responsible for the injustice to the state at every level whereas Mr Vajpayee has been kind enough to grant all sort of help to state and he is more than 'sympathiser', said Mr Parkash Singh Badal while addressing election rallies in Amloh and Sirhind towns of the district on Friday in support of Bibi Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal.

He said this election was going to be blessing in disguise as the next government would be more stable because the BJP and its allies are likely to get more than 300 seats.Top


Badal's promise poll stunt: Tohra
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 27 — The president of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has alleged that Punjab has never been on the agenda of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and the latter even ignored non-controversial demands of the state. Mr Parkash Singh Badal's assurance to the electorates that all demands of Punjab would be met if Mr Vajpayee was voted to power was an election stunt, he said.

In a strongly worded statement issued here today, Jathedar Tohra said that Mr Vajpayee never touched the demands of the state such as inclusion of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas in Punjab and settlement of the river waters dispute. Rather the BJP's central leaders announced that Chandigarh would remain union territory and that "the SYL issue would be resolved amicably", he said.

Pointing out that in his capacity as the SGPC president, he submitted a charter of non-controversial demands of Sikhs to the Prime Minister on August 18 last year. Jathedar Tohra regretted that none of these demands was met. These demands included the setting up of a high-level commission to identify party or organisation responsible for the massacre of Sikhs in November 1984, payment of compensation of Rs 3.50 lakh to the victims of the riots as directed by the Delhi High Court, exemption from wearing of helmet for Sikh women, compensation of Rs 1000 crore for damage to the gurdwara buildings suffered during the infamous Operation Bluestar and enactment of the All India Gurdwara Act etc.Top


Police helps SAD leader hold meeting
Tribune News Service

CHAK FATEH SINGWALA (Bathinda), Aug 27 — A large number of policemen were deployed in this village of Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s in-laws, to prevent any untoward incident during the election meeting of the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Chitan Singh Samao, held today.

District police authorities deployed 100 policemen and women police to prevent recurrence of the incident that took place on August 25 here when Mr Samao was not allowed to hold rally by activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta).

On August 25, when Mr Samao along with his supporters reached the venue of meeting here, BKU (Ekta) activists began protesting against the government’s failure to solve local problems.

When Mr Samao started his speech on that day he was disrupted by the activists with slogans against Mr Samao left the meeting in a huff. Mr Samao was not allowed to hold meeting at another place in the village on the same day by the BKU (Ekta) activists.

Though Mr Samao was not present at today’s meeting, it was addressed by the district president of the SAD, Mr Sikander Singh and certain local leaders.

A police official on the condition of anonymity told The Tribune that they were asked to seal the venue by 7 a.m. today and since then they were patrolling the village though the main speaker turned up after 3 pm.

The election meeting in which 100 persons, including women, participated did not run long and one section of the participants did not raise any slogan to welcome the leaders.

The village witnessed tension few months back following a dispute between the locals and gunmen of MLA, Mr Balbir Singh and situation is yet to became normal.Top


Shatrughan criticises Cong on Kargil
From Our Correspondent and UNI

HOSHIARPUR, Aug 27 — Bihari migrants today turned up in large number to see and hear their "Bihari Babu" film star Shatrughan Sinha at the election rally of BJP nominee Kamal Choudhary here today.

An impressive turnout of people at Purani Kanak Mandi lustily cheered the cinestar-turned-politician on his arrival. They lapped up his every word with thunderous clappings.

He said under the leadership of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee the country secured commendable achievements like nuclear explosion at Pokhran and flushing out Pakistani intruders from the Kargil and Dras sectors whereas the country had lost 38000 sq km territory to China in 1962 during the Congress rule.

He criticised Congress leaders for questioning the infiltration by Pakistani intruders and said instead of supporting the government, they were creating problems by raising irrelevant issues. He praised Army personnel for showing bravery during the recent Kargil conflict. Referring to the Lahore bus journey by Mr Vajpayee, he said he was also accompanying him during his journey. He said Pakistan failed to reciprocate this good move and sent its intruders in the Kargil and Dras sectors. He pointed out that the Kargil episode had raised the image of India in the world as almost all countries, including America, supported the Indian government and Pakistan was isolated.

He said the Congress was fully responsible for poverty, unemployment and other problems. The Congress did nothing to remove poverty and unemployment even in 45 years of its rule. As a result of this more than 40 per cent population of the country was still under the poverty line. He pointed out that there was maximum number of tuberculosis, leprosy and blind patients in India. He held the Congress was fully responsible for the present mid-term elections. It not only toppled Mr Vajpayee’s government, but also governments of Mr Deve Gowda and Mr I.K. Gujral to gain power.

In a filmi style Shatrughan Sinha said that there was a deep relation between Punjab and Bihar. Majority of Bihari labourers were doing farming and other types of labour in the state to make it rich and prosperous.

Speaking dialogues of his films, he appealed to the electorate not to be misled by the false promises of Congress leaders and elect Mr Kamal Chaudhry BJP-SAD-BSM nominee from the Hoshiarpur constituency.

People waited for more than two hours in the hot sun as he arrived late.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister Punjab, Mr Kamal Chaudhry, BJP-SAD-BSM nominee, Mr Tikshan Sud MLA, Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, District unit president Mr Abinash Khanna secretary of the BJP Punjab unit also addressed the gathering.Top


Pilot: Cong to probe Kargil conflict
From Tribune Reporters

JALANDHAR, Aug 27 — Former union minister and CWC member Rajesh Pilot has promised to the electorate that if the Congress is voted to power, the party will discuss the causes, and reasons which led to the Kargil conflict, and will fix accountability.

Mr Rajesh Pilot, on a one-day campaign tour of the state, said here today while briefing the media, that no compromise on national security would be tolerated, and his party would deliberate on the causes of Kargil conflict on the first day of the session of the 13th Lok Sabha. The guilty would not be spared.

He also reiterated that it was not an election issue, as the national security was paramount and should be above politics, and the Congress cannot compromise on such a vital issue.

Confident that the Congress will do well at the hustings. Mr Pilot said that the party’s position in the state was extremely good and the response he received today at various political rallies at Tarn Taran, Banga and Jalandhar, was a indicator that the party would make a impressive comeback in the parliamentary elections.

TARN TARAN: Mr Rajesh Pilot has confessed the Operation Bluestar was a blunder and also said that the party had already apologised for it. Mr Pilot while talking to newsmen after addressing an election rally today here in support of the party candidate, Mr Gurinder Singh Kairon said that these reports had no base that Mrs Sonia Gandhi was not put as the Prime Ministerial candidate deliberately and said that the issue would be finalised by the elected party MPs after the results of the Lok Sabha poll.

Mr Pilot condemned the BJP-led Government for not providing any direction to the country during its regime and also condemned the way with which the Kargil issue was handled.

Mr Pilot said that the BJP would have to clarify before the nation about its alleged negligence on the Kargil issue.

Besides the party candidate, Mr Gurinder Singh Kairon, Mr Dilbag Singh Dalake, Mr Sukhdev Singh Shabazpuri, Master Jagir Singh, all former ministers, and other local leaders too addressed the rally.

PHILLAUR: Before addressing the election rally in favour of Ms Santosh Chaudhry, Congress candidate from this Lok Sabha constituency, at Banga today. Mr Pilot said that the BJP government at the Centre and the SAD-BJP government in Punjab had failed to tackle problems of the people.

When asked to comment upon the plot to kill BJP leaders Atal Behari Vajpayee, Lal Krishan Advani and Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi and ISI plan to disturb poll, Mr Pilot said the Congress had repeatedly cautioned the government, but the BJP government was following directionless policies.

Replying to a question about Prime Ministerial candidate of the Congress, Mr Pilot said it will be decided by elected Congress MPs. When his attention was drawn to infighting and indiscipline in the party, he said this problem will also be solved after elections.

Mr Santokh Singh, Mr Tirlochan Singh Sunder also spoke at the rally.Top


Christians to boycott poll
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Aug 27 — In a politically significant development, many frontline Christian bodies in the state today decided to boycott elections in protest against the alleged "indifferent" attitude of various political parties towards the interests of their community. They have also lodged a protest for not accepting their genuine demand of granting reservation status to them.

This decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the Christian intellectuals and pastors held here under the presidentship of Father Roby Collin Cherry. The meeting called on members of the community to boycott the poll all over the state.

Giving reasons for the boycott, Father Collin Cherry told mediapersons that since Independence the Christians, particularly of the northern region, had been exploited by political parties for their own vested interests. The oft-repeated demand of reservation in government jobs and in other spheres for Christians of north India, who are by and large economically weaker, had not been realised by any political party, he alleged. The meeting also took note of the increase in physical assaults on members of the community last year and failure of political parties to speak against this repression.

In a resolution passed at the meeting, it was alleged that Christian churches and cemeteries were being attacked by persons enjoying the patronage of political leaders. Another resolution adopted at the meeting said heavy taxes had been imposed by the state government on Christian hospitals and schools which were involved in imparting education and caring to the poor. No such taxes were imposed on similar institutions being run by other religious bodies, the resolution added.

Yet another resolution pointed out that though there were about 16 lakh Christian voters in Punjab not a single Christian occupied a senior administrative post in any government department.Top


In fray to spread Netaji’s message
Tribune News Service

ROPAR, Aug 27 — Besides Mr Kamal Chaudhary of the BJP, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi of the (Congress) and Mr Rakesh Ram of the (BSP) the main candidates for the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha constituency, there is another candidate in the poll fray, Mr V.P. Saini of the All-India Netaji Revolutionary Party, who is contesting for a mission instead of win.

The mission is the creation of an India of the dreams of revolutionaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Shaheed Chander Shekhar Azad.

Though Mr V.P. Saini is not in the race like other candidates yet he is trying hard to spread the message of his mission among maximum number of voters by way of reaching them within his limited resources in the constituency.

The Netaji Party is a new one floated in July this year during an All-India Netaji conference here. It was attended among other by members of the I.N.A, the Forward Bloc, families of Netaji and Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Talking to the Tribune here today, Mr Saini admitted that winning or losing in the election did not matter to him rather it was the mission which forced him to enter the fray to reach maximum number of people to spread it.

He said dreams of the revolutionaries were to have an India steeped in nationalism, economic prosperity, social equality and justice for all. He said the Netaji Party would not lure voters by making false promises rather it would like to face any eventuality in the election for the cause of the mission.

Mr Saini also said that he was contesting this election as a symbolic entry of Netaji’s staunch followers into politics to build India of his dreams. He also stated that he had even chosen his election symbol an aeroplane to explain the voters about the alleged air-crash of Netaji’s plane and facts relating to it.

Mr Saini is that person, who has been raising the banner for the past 20 years in the name of Netaji in this region and had taken out three All-India Netaji Chetna Yatras in the past four years to spread ideas of revolutionaries especially of Netaji.Top


Badal seeks votes for Prabhjot Kaur
From Our Correspondent

KAPURTHALA, Aug 27 — Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, has urged people not to waste their votes by casting it in favour of Congress candidates in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.

Addressing a election rally in support of Mrs Prabhjot Kaur, nominee of the Akali Dal-BJP from Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat here last evening, Mr Badal said that Akali Dal was in power in the state and in the event of any Congress candidate winning the election, the chance of which was very remote, what would he do in the state as he would not have any power to do any development work.

He expressed the hope that all the 13 seats would be won by the Akali Dal-BJP alliance in the state.

Mr Badal said that this time the election to the Lok Sabha was altogether different from the earlier election as the people had to choose a Prime Minister from between Mr A.B. Vajpayee and Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Badal criticised the foreign origin of Sonia Gandhi. Congress men within the party revolted when a proposal to project Mrs Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister mooted, Mr Badal said.

Mr Badal urged the people that the interests of Punjab would remain safe with a non-Congress government at the Centre.

Mrs Jagir Kaur, President SGPC, Mr Raghbir Singh, Transport Minister, Punjab, Mrs Upinderjit Kaur, Technical Education Minister, Mr Narotam Dev Ratii, president district BJP, Mr Hira Lal Dhir, member state executive BJP, Mrs Prabhjot Kaur, Akali Dal nominee and Mr Mohan Singh Anand, president, city Akali Jatha and Major Jiwan Singh Bhandal, member, SGPC addressed the rally.Top


Ranjit Singh vows to fight Badal
From Our Correspondent

KAPURTHALA, Aug 27 — Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takhat, has announced that his fight against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister, and his coterie will continue.

Addressing an election rally in support of Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, a joint candidate of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party at Jallowkhana here on Thursday evening, Bhai Ranjit Singh said that none had dared to denigrate Akali Takht like Mr Badal and his coteries.

He said there was no question of opposing Hindu religion as Sikhism had emerged out of it.Top


Who is Ludhiana DCC chief?
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 27 — Who is the president of the Ludhiana District Congress Committee (Urban)?

Mr Surinder Dawar, a local businessman and a prominent Congress leader, says he has been appointed the DCC(U) chief. Mr Rakesh Pande, the Congress candidate for the Ludhiana North byelection to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, says that he continues to be the DCC(U) president because he has not received any communication to the contrary from any authoritative quarter in the AICC.

Interestingly, Mr Dawar was introduced as the DCC(U) chief at the election rally of Mrs Sonia Gandhi here on Wednesday. He also presented her with a "siropa". But Mr Pande maintains that this is immaterial.

Meanwhile, Mr Dawar has declared that he will take charge of his new assignment on Sunday. Earlier, he had drawn up elaborate plans to visit the DCC(U) office at the head of a large procession for the "coronation". But this scheme has now been abandoned because that would have involved taking permission from the district administration in view of the prohibitory orders under Section 144, Cr PC. He now proposes to ask his supporters to gather at the DCC(U) office before he reaches there to take over.

But Mr Pande says there is no question of handing over the charge to anyone. As a matter of fact, the DCC office complex remains closed on Sunday. A visit to the DCC office complex today showed the office is closed. A notice scrawled on a cardboard hung from the door declares that the DCC office has been shifted to the joint central election office of the Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, and the assembly nominee, Mr Rakesh Pande, till September 5, 1999. So when Mr Dawar arrives at the DCC office on Sunday he may find the doors locked. However, Mr Dawar clarifies he has no plans to break the lock to gain entry into the office.

And that is where the matter rests now.

The mutual antagonism and antipathy between the two Congress leaders is now the talk of the town. Mr Dawar was a close lieutenant of the late Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Beant Singh, who appointed him as the DCC(U) president. When Capt Amarinder Singh took over as the Punjab PCC chief last year he replaced a large number of Beant loyalists. The axe also fell on Mr Dawar who was replaced by Mr Pande. But the PCC chief later changed his mind and was said to be toying with the idea of reappointing Mr Dawar to the post.

Mr Pande is the son of the late Punjab minister, Mr Joginderpal Pande. He has won the Ludhiana North seat more than once. He was unseated on technical grounds as the result of an election petition by the high court. Mr Dawar was also an aspirant for the Congress ticket for Ludhiana North but the Congress high command opted for renominating Mr Pande even though the PCC chief was in favour of Mr Dawar.

Perhaps to soften the blow Capt Amarinder Singh announced that Mr Dawar had been appointed the DCC(U) chief in place of Mr Pande but the later has refused to take it lying down. Hence, the current impasse.

Mr Pande’s camp complains that the Congress nominee is getting no help from Mr Dawar in the former’s election drive. Mr Dawar’s camp maintains that he has not been approached even once by Mr Pande for help.Top


BBMB in dire financial straits
From Lalit Mohan

NANGAL, Aug 27 — The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) is in dire financial straits. All payments, including gratuity, loans, advance payments from the provident fund etc have been put on hold on the instructions of the finance department of the BBMB.

The reason for this according to sources is the non-payment of dues to the BBMB by the partner states, Mr Satish Loomba, financial adviser of BBMB, said the pending dues of the states had reached the Rs 100 crore mark. This amounted to about 30 per cent of what the states pay to the BBMB as annual expenditure. The situation was such that the BBMB was now forced to draw on the resources of the central government for its operational needs, Mr Loomba added.

The BBMB is an organisation owned by the partner states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The Rajasthan Government has a share of 15 per cent in the BBMB while out of the remaining 85 per cent the Punjab Government has 60 per cent and the Haryana Government 40 per cent. All these partner states as per their respective shares jointly contribute Rs 330 crore for the operation and maintenance needs of the BBMB. The money is generally paid in advance in the form of quarterly instalments. However, since the last few quarters the partner states have not been making any payments to the BBMB regularly.

The standing dues of the Punjab Government to the BBMB are Rs 30 crore and that of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Rs 13 crore. A sum of Rs 39 crore is due from the Haryana Government and the Haryana State Electricity Board (PSEB) and Rs 18 crore from the Rajasthan Government and the Rajasthan State Electricity Board (RSEB).

The sources said the financial crunch faced by the states was the major reason for the non-payment of dues to the BBMB. However, the states are making various pleas for non-payment. In the case of Punjab, the anomalies in the pay scales of the Punjab Government employees working in the state vis-a-vis those working in the BBMB is being sited as the reason for non-payment of dues.

If the financial situation of the BBMB does not improve and the states don't pay up immediately it will be difficult to continue various important operations, says Mr Loomba. The BBMB is undertaking major operation. The renovation of turbines in the right powerhouse of Bhakra is being done by the Techno Prome Export (TPE) company of Russia, the renovation of the Kotla and Ganguwal powerhouses is scheduled to start in November. The financial crises can hamper these operations.

Moreover, the maintenance of canals entails huge expenditure. If the states don't clear their dues towards the BBMB then the situation can become alarming as the BBMB cannot draw from the central government resources beyond a certain level, says Mr Loomba.

On the request of the BBMB a meeting was held on August 18 between representatives of the finance departments of the partner states and the BBMB at Delhi to discuss the financial crises. The details of the developments at the meeting, however, could not be ascertained.Top


Punjab told to pay 1.5 lakh to torture victim
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 16 — The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab government to give a sum of Rs 1.5 lakh by way of interim compensation to Mr Kashmira Singh, a resident of Gurdaspur district, who was illegally detained by the Punjab police and subjected to third degree methods.

Mr Justice R.L. Anand, who handed down this order, ruled: "The compensation must be paid within one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. A copy of this order be sent to the Chief Secretary and Director-General of Punjab Police."

The Judge further ruled: "I would like to send a copy of this order to the Director of Health Service, to bring to his notice that all is not well in his department. If a gazetted officer like a doctor can succumb to the pressure of police, then nothing more can be said about other employees of the department. It will be within the domain of the Director or Secretary of Health Services to take necessary action against who gave false findng in the opinion to exonerate the police people."

The Judge held that the state government had the right to recover the amount of interim compensation from defaulting officers who were responsible for inflicting injuries on Mr Kashmira Singh.

A petition for seeking compensation was filed by Mr Shiv Dev Singh, father of Mr Kashmira Singh, seeking an independent inquiry into the illegal detention of his son and his torture by third degree methods resulting in a fracture to his hip joints.

The Judge regretted that 50 years had elapsed when the country became free, still the working of the police had not changed." They are treating our citizens like animals and detaining them illegally", the Judge observed and added: "Only some supernatural power can protect the rights of individuals so that they may be saved from the cruelties of the police."Top


A town without drains, sewers
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

RAMPURAPHUL: The residents of this town in Bathinda district known as "town of blood donors" are living in miserable conditions due to lack of basic amenities.

With no arrangement for potable water supply to the town, the residents are exposed to water-borne diseases which have become routine here.

In 1993, eight deaths took place in this town due to various water-borne diseases which gripped the town due to supply of dirty water to residents. Since then, gastroenteritis and jaundice have become an annual occurrence.

Official sources said so far only 40 per cent of the town's population had been provided sewers, while 50 per cent is being supplied piped water.

In the absence of a sewer system, the draining out of sullage had become a big problem for the local Municipal Council. At present, the sullage is being drained out along the railway track and it has stagnated in the depressions causing stink.

The town, which is also the second biggest market for tea leaves in Punjab, has been represented in the state Cabinet for several years but it could not get the attention of those who mattered in state affairs.

Mr Jaswant Ballo, a resident, who has been honoured by the district administration for his contribution to social welfare, said the town needed funds for its overall development to provide clean surroundings to the residents.

At present, most of the roads of the town are in bad shape. The road leading to the bus stand from the Bathinda-Barnala road has developed deep potholes and it is difficult for vehicles to ply on it.

Mr Suresh Kumar Bhaia, head of the Municipal Council, when contacted, said the council was leaving no stone unturned to provide basic amenities to residents. He pointed out that Rs 50 lakh had been spent on the roads while tenders had been floated for the construction of a sewage disposal system.

He disclosed that the civic body had been facing a financial crisis as it had been clearing the dues of employees relating to the provident fund and salaries. Last month, the council received Rs 21 lakh in the shape of excise duty and the entire amount was spent on paying the dues of employees.Top


PBW-343 wheat variety praised
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 27 — During the rabi season of 1998-99 India produced a record 73 million tonnes of wheat. This was disclosed by Dr Mangla Rai, Deputy Director General (crop Science), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi.

He further stated that quick adoption of high-yielding variety PBW-343 developed by the scientists of Punjab Agricultural University was one of the major reasons for this spectacular increase. This wheat variety sown in more than 3 million hectare area and giving a yield of 43 quintals per hectare.

Dr Mangla Rai was addressing the scientists participating in the 38th All India Wheat Research Workers meeting on the Punjab Agricultural University Campus. More than 500 wheat researchers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, State Agricultural Universities and international institutes are participating in this meeting. They will deliberate on various issues concerning the research in wheat production.

Padam Shri Dr M.V. Rao, veteran wheat production expert and former Vice-Chancellor, Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University stressed on the need for educating farmers in the latest production technologies. He said at present about 80 per cent of the technology generated by the scientist remains unutilised. He stated that unless the productivity level is increased, the country will have to import foodgrains by the year 2030.

Dr S. Nagarajan, Project Director, Directorate of Wheat Research, ICAR, outlined the achievements of wheat research programme in India. He disclosed last year nucleus seed of 120 varieties and breeder seed of 60 varieties were produced. He also stressed upon the improvement of industrial quality of wheat through value addition and minimising the cost of production so that our country can compete in the international market.

Mr A. Venu Prasad, Acting Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr K.S. Aulakh, Director of Research, PAU, and Dr Paul Singh Sidhu, Dean, College of Agriculture, also spoke.Top


2 KLF militants arrested

MOGA, Aug 27 (UNI) — Two militants of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) were arrested during a "naka’’ at a drain near Rode village last night and recovered two pistols along with ammunition from them.

The arrested were identified as Inderjit Singh of Charik and Bohar Singh of Daulatpura under the Moga sadar police station.

Moga district Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Shard Satia Chohan told mediapersons here today that police was in search of these members of the KLF outfit since last fortnight as they were allegedly responsible for pasting of "pro-Khalistani’’ hand written posters at various places including gurdwaras in Kaonke and Malha villages.

The SSP said that he had set up a "special task force’’ to nab the accused, under the supervision of Superintendent Police , Shiv Kumar.

KLF outfit militants Inderjit Singh and Bohar Singh confessed during interrogation of pasting of pro-Khalistani posters with the connivance of Inderjit Singh of Malha village with the "pro-Khalistani" matters, which was in the knowledge of local people the police officer said.

The SSP said that both also admitted their plan to eliminate father-in-law of Inderjit Singh residing in Rode village and mother of Bohar Singh, who was residing with other person at Muktsar.

The two also admitted writing threatening letters, which were sent through one Geja Singh, he said adding that the police also believed that these militants also planned of killing some other person in coming Lok Sabha election to create "terror and disturb" peaceful atmosphere.Top


Dhindsa pacifies party workers
From Our Correspondent

NANGAL, Aug 27 — Mr Sukhdev Sing Dhindsa, Secretary General, SAD (Badal), yesterday held a meeting to pacify the local Akali workers at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, here. The local Akali workers at a meeting on August 18 had resolved not to campaign for the BJP-SAD candidate from Hoshiarpur, Mr Kamal Chaudhary. The local office-bearers of the SAD (Badal) have been protesting against Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, disregard for the area.

Mr Dhindsa addressing a gathering assured about 500 party workers that he would discuss their grievances with Mr Mittal. He, however, added that he hoped that the solution to their problems would be found.

Mr Dhindsa later also met the workers of the local BJP and appealed them to take Akali workers into confidence regarding the ongoing campaign for elections.

Mr Ranjit Singh, local circle Jathedar of the SAD, Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh, the SGPC member from Anandpur, Mr Pritam Singh Salomajra, the district Jathedar of the SAD and Tikka Shiv Chand were among those Akali leaders present on the occasion.Top


Pensioners seek free medical care
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Aug 27 — About 28 lakh central government pensioners residing outside the jurisdiction of the central government health scheme in 14 major cities are allegedly being denied the basic needs notwithstanding the constitutional provisions, the fifth CPC recommendations and court verdicts in favour of pensioners.

The All-India Central Government Pensioners Association, North India region, has urged the Union Government through a memorandum to formulate a comprehensive scheme for providing proper and free medical care to central government pensioners and family pensioners.

The association has urged the government to honour judgements of the apex court, Central Administrative Tribunal which have held that the government has constitutional obligation to provide health facilities to its employees or retired employees.

Pensioners also demanded an increase in the fixed medical allowance of Rs 100 per month to Rs 300.Top


Search in gurdwara condemned
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 27 — The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal has condemned the alleged police entry and search of Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash at the headquarters of the Damdami Taksal on Tuesday and alleged that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was following the footsteps of Indira Gandhi and desecrating the Sikh shrines.

In a statement issued to the press here yesterday, the party’s Secretary General, Mr Sukhdeo Singh Bhaur, said this action had been done to malign the gurdwara and its management which had been siding with the Sant Samaj.

In a separate press note, Mr Bhaur has warned the SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, against demoting certain employees who were promoted and given next grades by the executive committee last year.Top


Police inaction condemned
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Aug 27 — Lt. Col J.S. Mand, President, Indian Ex-Services League, Punjab and Chandigarh, in a statement issued here yesterday alleged that the police had taken no action against the culprits responsible for the alleged gang-rape and murder of Rupinder Kaur.

He alleged that the culprits were identified by the police but no action had been taken so far.Top


SGPC chief for Sikh university
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Aug 27 — A Sikh university will be set up in Punjab, while colleges will be opened in every district for promotion of Sikh studies according to Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC president, told newsmen here yesterday. She dismissed the manifesto of the Tohra-led Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal in which Mr Parkash Singh Badal had been accused of politicisation of religion, officialisation of Akal Takht and Congressisation of the Akali Dal. It was mere jugglery of words and bundle of lies. Top


Sangathan to back Badal’s son
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 27 — The Ex-Servicemen Sangathan, N-W Zone, has decided to extend its support to the SAD-BJP nominee, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, contesting the Faridkot parliamentary constituency.

In a statement issued on behalf of the Sangathan, responsible for ex-soldiers south of the Sutlej, Major-Gen Gurdial Singh (retd) said today the Central Government led by Mr A.B. Vajpayee had done much for ex-servicemen, including partly meeting the one-rank, one-pension demand.

Moreover, the forces never got the kind of respect given to them by the BJP coalition government. Therefore, it was on merit that Mr Sukhbir Singh would be supported. He appealed to ex-servicemen to vote for the SAD-BJP candidate.Top


1000 PSEB staff go on strike
From Our Correspondent

TARN TARAN, Aug 27 — Nearly 1000 employees of the PSEB local city division went on the strike today against the indifferent attitude of the XEN concerned regarding the suspension of five of their colleagues.

The employees of sub-division of local city, Chabal, Sursingh Sarai Amanat Khan, Gohalwar and Manochahal Kalan participated in the strike. Mr Naunihal Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr Rajwinder Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh, the members of the Joint Action committee warned that the agitation would be intensified if the suspended employees were not reinstated and the XEN apologised for misbehaving with union leaders.Top

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