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Monday, September 6, 1999
Chandigarh Tribune
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50 pc voters seal fate of candidates
Polling peaceful in UT
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — The fate of all 16 candidates was sealed in the electronic voting machines as nearly 50 per cent of 5.83 lakh electorate exercised their franchise for the lone Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat here today.

The polling, barring a few minor skirmishes and hiccups in the working of electronic voting machines, was mostly peaceful as no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the Union Territory.

Among the contestants from here are Senior Vice-President of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Krishan Lal Sharma, the Congress candidate, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, besides Mr Mata Ram Dhiman (Bahujan Samaj Party), Col Harsharan Singh (Independent), Mr Manphool Singh (Samajwadi Party), Mr Ravi Parkash Kansal (Independent), Mrs Bimla Sapna (BSP-Ambedkar) and Mr Gurnam Singh Sidhu (Independent).

The polling started on a dull note in the morning as there were hardly any queues outside any polling station when the voting began at 7 a.m. In the first two hours, it was between 1 per cent and 7 per cent polling at different polling stations in the city. By 1 p.m., the pace of polling improved considerably and most of the stations reported between 25 per cent and 30 per cent polling. Inclement weather, including intermittent showers in the afternoon all over the Union Territory, may have been a factor for the low turnout in the afternoon. As a result, there were only some stations where more than 50 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise.

Interestingly, there was more enthusiasm for polling among youngsters than older people. To the surprise of the main contestants, the polling was low also in labour colonies, villages and even thickly populated areas where normally polling is much higher than urban areas.

Chandigarh is one of 46 parliamentary constituencies where electronic voting machines have been used for the first time. There were problems in some areas over the use of EVMs. In some cases, for examples, the slips issued were more than the votes actually cast.

Mr S.M. Bhatti, an Independent candidate, brought to the notice of the poll staff an instance of polling station number 341 where the number of votes shown by casted register was 249 while the EVM reflected the figure of 250. Mr Bhatti said that he brought this to the notice of the Presiding Officer and also the Assistant Returning Officer.

In one case in Bapu Dham, the votes shown by EVM were 182 while the casted register reflected a figure of 201. The EVM was sealed and a new EVM was put in its place. A report about the incident was sent to the Election Commission for a decision.

There were some complaints at polling stations that the Presiding Officers were guiding the electorate to press a particular button. But when confronted by Supervisory Staff or the Assistant Returning Officer, such complainants either changed their statements or maintained that because of their lack of knowledge, the wrong button had been pressed by them.

These problems apart, the voters were generally happy with the EVMs.Back


Lowest-ever polling in UT
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — It has been the lowest polling ever for the lone Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat since this parliamentary constituency was carved out after the reorganisation of Punjab on November 1,1966. The previous lowest percentage of 53.69 was recorded in the last Lok Sabha elections.

The low turnout has clearly indicated lack of interest by an average voter because of frequent Lok Sabha elections. Unlike in the past, the turnout also dropped considerably in colonies and villages. In some colonies and villages, the turnout this time was around 40 to 45 per cent, while only in select areas, it crossed 60 per cent. Overall, the polling percentage was more or less the same in colonies and villages.

One of the reasons advanced for low turnout this time has been the weather. Though in some areas, it started raining before noon, other areas were lashed by showers only after 2 p.m. This may have been a factor for low polling in the afternoon. The other reason being advanced is the first terminal examination of high school students which have been in progress. Also given as a reason for low turnout has been the spate of holidays on the eve of elections because of which many people moved out. Though not many but some also blamed the live telecast of the Singapore tournament as a reason for the low turnout.

Whatever be the reasons, the polling this time lacked the usual gusto and enthusiasm. The use of electronic voting machine, though appreciated by most of the electorate, was not without its own teething problems. In some polling stations, the polling staff did experience some problems. In most of these cases, either the machines were set in order or were replaced.

There were problems in the revision of electoral rolls. There were complaints received by Chandigarh Tribune where the affected persons produced relevant documents, including receipts of their applications for registration as voters but found their names missing. In one case, a couple from Sector 32 had to return home disappointed as voter slips issued to them by workers of a party a few days earlier did not tally with the voters’ list.

Their names were missing from the list at the polling station. But the number of such “leftout cases” was not very large and this may not be a factor for low turnout.

The fall in poll percentage has been nearly 4 per cent since 1996, indicating that frequent elections is the significant reason for dipping turnout.Back


Low voter turnout in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, Sept 5 — The indifference of the electorate was evident from the low turnout at various polling booths of Panchkula district till noon. Here policemen on duty clearly outnumbered the voters who came to exercise their franchise sans much enthusiasm. By the end of the day, the polling percentage had climbed upto 50 per cent.

With the polling percentage only 21 per cent till 11 O' clock, most voters in rural areas began trickling in only after noon. It indicated that the votes were not being cast in favour of candidates but in favour of symbols and parties these symbols stood for. They were unmindful and seemed unaware of the candidates parties had fielded from the constituency.

Despite the boycott call given by the Shivalik Vikas Manch, the turnout in Morni was larger than expected and 44.6 per cent voters had cast votes till 1 pm, before strong winds and heavy rainfall lashed the hills. Later, most voters had to wade through one-foot-deep water which collected in the school playground where the booth was set up.

A little over 25 per cent votes had been cast in Tapia and Bhoodd villages till afternoon while 69 per cent persons of three surrounding villages had cast their votes at the polling booth in Moginand till about 3:30 pm. This was despite only six of the 60 residents of Beriwala village making it to the booth to vote. Heavy downpour had cut-off the shortcut from the village to the booth which is about six kilometres by road. In the absence of any transport arrangement, voters were forced to remain confined to their village.Back


Poor voting in urban areas
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Sept 5 — A low voter turnout at the polling stations in the urban areas compared to the rural areas marked the polling in the Kharar segment of the Ropar parliamentary seat on Sunday.

At least two cases of impersonation were reported from a polling booth in Phase XI and two persons were arrested in this connection. A truck driver was arrested and his vehicle was impounded for illegally ferrying voters to a polling both in Sector 71 here.

Meanwhile, a polling booth in Mohali village, however, registered only 7.21 per cent polling — the lowest in the assembly segment. The highest polling of 76.5 per cent was recorded at a polling station in Patoon village here. According to the official figures, the overall polling percentage was 44.29.

Of the total 1,98,441 voters registered in the Kharar assembly segment, only 87,892 exercised their franchise, said the reports reaching here. In the urban areas, around 31 per cent polling had been recorded.

A number of voters complained about their names missing from the revised voter list in spite of having valid voter I-card. Some of the voters could be seen pleading their case with the polling staff. Mr Balbir Singh, a voter from Shahi Majra village complained to the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO), Mr O.P.Popli, that his name along with the name of 25 other persons of the village were missing from the revised electoral rolls.

In another case, name of Balbir Kaur, a resident of Phase 1, was missing from the voter list. Similar complaints came from Bhago Majra village and Phase 7. Complaints about the voter names being missing from the voter list kept on pouring in the office of the ARO.

A visit to the polling booths showed lack of enthusiasm in the urban areas. The tents of the political parties pitched outside the polling stations wore a deserted look. Till afternoon, most of the polling booth had recorded between 25 to 30 per cent polling.

Meanwhile, barring few instances of heated exchanges between the polling agents of different parties, no untoward incident took place. The Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr B.S.Randhawa, said two persons — Karam Chand and Satwinder Singh, both residents of Mohalli village — were arrested for casting bogus votes at a polling station in Government Primary School in Phase XI. Both persons have been booked under Section 171-F of the IPC on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Presiding Officer, Mr Karnail Singh.

Unruly scenes were witnessed at the Phase 8 police station when workers of the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal handed over a truck being used to ferry voters to a polling station in Sector 71. The ARO and the SP reached the spot after the AISAD workers alleged that the voters from the Phase 1 labour colony were bogus. Later the truck driver was arrested and the vehicle was impounded. However, the voters were let off. Back


1 EVM develops fault; replaced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Sept 5 — Contrary to popular perception that voting through electronic voting machines (EVMs) may prove to be cumbersome, the city voters' tryst with EVMs went off well today, with one or two exceptions.

The voters, including in the villages and colonies, it seemed, did not have any difficulty in pressing the blue button to cast their votes.

The electronic voting machine (EVM) at a polling station (number 448) in Government Primary School, Indira Colony, developed a fault and had to be replaced. Polling had to be stopped at 9.40 a.m., the moment the fault came to the notice of the polling staff, for half an hour till another machine was installed.

The EVM apparently was not registering the correct number of votes polled. While 201 voting slips had been issued, the machine showed the number of votes polled as 182, a difference of 19 votes.

The ARO was informed and the machine replaced before polling re-started. The machine has been sealed and orders from the Election Commission in this context are awaited.

There was also a complaint from a colony resident that a member of the polling staff had cast his vote by pressing the button on the EVM on his behalf.

The member was replaced after the polling agents complained to the ARO in this context.

"It was much easier than stamping the ballot paper", said an enthusiastic Ramesh Kumar of Attawa village.

Expressing the same sentiments, an illiterate, Ram Karan of Palsora Colony termed, the entire exercise "simple and less time-consuming."Back


2 held for impersonation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Sept 5 — The police has arrested a resident of Mani Majra who had gone to cast the vote of his brother, besides impounding 25 vehicles being used by various political parties to ferry voters to the polling stations.

According to police sources, Tej Mohammad was detected by the staff of polling booth 430 when he was attempting to cast a vote by impersonating his brother, K.S. Khan, here this afternoon.

A case under Section 171 (F) of the Representation of People's Act has been registered against him at Mani Majra police station.

Anurodh Singh, a resident of Sector 46, was detained by the polling staff at a booth at Government Model School in the same sector. He had gone there to cast the vote of his brother Ganga Ram.

A case was yet to be registered as the ARO had not formally asked for the registration of a case.

Vehicles impounded

The police has impounded 25 vehicles which were being used to ferry voters in the jurisdiction of various police stations in the city.

Two jeeps, two Maruti vans and six three-wheelers were impounded at the Sector 39 police station.

One Tata Sumo was impounded at Mani Majra police station.

One Maruti Omni and three Tata Sumos were impounded at the Sector 36 police station.

One Fiat car, one Maruti van and one Tata 407 truck were impounded at the Sector 31 police station.

Two Maruti vans, two jeeps, one three-wheeler and one rickshaw were impounded at the Industrial Area police station.

Cases under Section 188, IPC, have been registered against the drivers. Back


Lowest turnout in Sec 44, 45
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — The voting percentage was probably at its lowest in a pocket of Sectors 44 and 45 where only 42 per cent polling was recorded. Right since morning the voting had been slow in the city. The urban voter was particularly indifferent to the polls and the intermittent rain that started around 1 p.m. only contributed to the low turnout.

By the end of the day, the segment comprising sectors 32, 33, 34, 44, 45, 46 and Burail village had recorded 43.68 per cent of polling in 92 polling booths. Out of this, the maximum was in Burail where polling crossed 50 the per cent mark.

In another segment comprising Sectors 47 and 31, villages of Hallo Majra and Behlana, besides the Industrial Area, Phase II, and Ram Darbar 48 per cent votes were polled at 46 booths. In Industrial Area, Phase I, Labour Colony Number 4, Sectors, 28, 29, Poultry Farm, villages of Darau and Raipur Kalan a total of 53.13 per cent votes were polled at 49 polling booths.Back


Poll percentage worries parties
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Sept 5 — The polling began on a slow note and failed to rise up to the expectations of the poll managers of the major political parties at the end of the day.

The atmosphere was bereft of the hustle and bustle witnessed during the previous elections. The tents pitched by the polling agents outside the polling stations were almost empty. Mobile phones were busy and many were overheard asking the mohalla-level members to urge the voters to step out and cast their vote.

Long queues were mainly seen in the labour colonies. In Mani Majra, there was some jostling as the people queued at one of the government school buildings as everyone tried to seek shelter in the small verandah. Order was restored by security personnel.

It was here that the agents of the candidates were reportedly seen bringing voters from their homes to the polling station. A large number of vehicles had been pressed into service for the purpose.

Similar scenes were witnessed at the Mauli Jagran complex as voters tried to adjust in the covered veranda. Others opted to wait outside till the word came through polling agents inside that more people could come in.

In the areas under the Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) 6 and 7 about 10 to 15 per cent of votes were polled till noon. The intermittent drizzle also played spoilsport but polling picked up after lunch time. By 1 p.m. it was between 25 to 34 per cent and at 3 p.m. the reported percentage in these two areas had climbed up to 40.

Even the polling staff was expecting the polling to pick up but it failed to do so and at the end of the day the average of the votes polled was nearly 50 per cent.

No untoward incident was reported from these areas although 71 of the 143 sensitive and super sensitive polling stations fell in these two areas. The police had staged flag marches in these areas yesterday.Back


Protest at Dadu Majra against irregularity
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — Like other counting centres in the city, the one at the Government College for Girls, Sector 42, recorded moderate polling percentage, with about 48 per cent of the total electorate of 1,47,294 exercising their franchise.

Over 71,300 voters cast their votes in the 268 polling booths of the centre comprising Sectors 35 to 41 and Kajheri, Maloya, Dadu Majra, Palsora, Badheri and Buterla villages.

The polling began slowly with only about 7 per cent of the electorate voting in the first two hours after the commencement of voting at 7 a.m. By 1 p.m., about 29 per cent of the electorate had exercised their right to vote while by 3 p.m., about 40 per cent voting was reported.

A tour of booths revealed that the villages and colonies recorded a higher percentage of votes. While long queues were seen in certain booths of Palsora, Dadu Majra and Maloya, very few voters turned up for voting in certain booths in these areas. Similarly, certain booths in the city wore a deserted look.

Even as senior leaders of the two main parties — the Congress and the BJP — visited a number of areas, active party workers could be seen making last-minute efforts to woo the voters outside the polling booths. Senior officials of the Chandigarh Administration also toured a number of booths to supervise the poll arrangements.

According to the figures available, of the total of 71,307 votes polled in this counting centre, 16,324 (42.9 per cent) votes were polled under the area of Assistant Returning Officer (ARO), Dr Amar Pal Singh. The area had a total of 38,052 voters.

The area under another ARO of the centre, Mr Prithi Chand, however, recorded 50.33 per cent votes with 54,983 out of a total of 1,09,242 voters casting their right to franchise.

The polling largely passed off peacefully except an isolated incident when workers of a political party protested against alleged irregularities in the poll process at a booth in Dadu Majra. A case of impersonation was also reported from Booth No 341 of Sector 38.Back



Mr Mata Ram Dhiman, the candidate of the Bahujan Samaj Party, had yet another distinction to his credit today. He became the first one to cast his vote in Sector 38-A this morning. It may be recalled that Mr Dhiman was the first to file his nomination papers for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.

*** ***

The Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh, Lieut-Gen B.K.N. Chhibber (retd), accompanied by his wife, Rama, went to a polling station in Punjab MLAs Hostel to cast his vote for the first time. In the past, the Chhibbers had been casting their votes through postal ballot. The General was also accompanied by his son and daughter-in-law.

*** ***

There were more youngsters, even minors, than older people who were managing polling booths of various candidates. In fact, only a couple of candidates had put up polling booths outside all polling stations.

*** ***

Unlike previous elections, there was no arrangement for tea, refreshments or food at any of the main five distribution and counting centres. Instead, those on election duty were given diet allowance in cash and were asked to make their own arrangements. Since those on standby duty were not allowed to move out of the centre, they had no choice but to do without tea and refreshments the whole day.

*** ***

Prof P. Thareja and Prof P.B. Mahapatra of Punjab Engineering College (PEC) , who were master trainers for the EVM use, said that on the day of counting the AROs concerned only need to press a button that will tell the number of votes. The polled votes cannot be erased as it is on the memory of the respective machine.

*** ***

In what may be one of the most hilarious way of misguiding a voter a party worker was overheard telling a seemingly illiterate voter: ''Look once you go in, the big machine will be switched off. To switch it on you will have to press this button (pointing to the button against the symbol of his party on the cardboard cutout of the machine).'' The party worker further advised him, ''Cast your vote only after you have switched on the machine.''

*** ***

Due to reasons unknown several voters in the city could not cast their votes as their names were not on the voters' list. Several people complained to the polling agents in Sectors 19, 20, 32, 44 and other places that they had voted in 1998 and how could the names be deleted. An elderly gentleman approached the ARO in Sector 46 showing his voter identity card but his house number and the name were not on the list. The only answer given by the polling agents was, ''Sir, we can do nothing as we have to strictly follow the voters' list.''

*** ***

Polling duty proved to be "too hot" for an aaganwadi worker who was on duty at a polling booth at Bapu Dham Colony. She reportedly fainted and was taken to hospital. The cause for the incident could not be ascertained.Back


Two senior Cong leaders expelled
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — Two Vice-Presidents of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee were expelled from the party for six years each on the charge of persistently working against the party candidate, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, in the Lok Sabha elections, the polling for which was held today.

Those expelled from the party by the AICC observer for Chandigarh, Mr Brahm Mohindra, are Mrs Manjit Kaur and Mr Gurcharan Dass Kala.

It may be recalled that Mr Gurcharan Dass Kala, a councillor, had resigned from Samajwadi Janata Party to join the Congress on the eve of Lok Sabha elections last year.Back


Powers restored to PU dept
by Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — In a step to ensure participation of the best team in cultural activities at the national level, powers regarding selection of the team were restored to the director of youth affairs in Panjab University recently.

For the past many years,the university was unable to list the "best" and "deserving" students for a team because the competitions at the college level and zonal of the university remained incomplete by the time the Association of Indian Universities ( AIU) held the festival at the national level.This led to repetition of same faces in teams for years.

The team for Panjab University for the past several years continued to be selected largely by the Dean Student Welfare office, Dr Iqbal Dhillon, director of youth affairs, said. This left out several deserving students from affiliated colleges.Several communications for college level competitions often lost their way to the concerned office.

PU officials had a meeting with the AIU where procedural problems were pointed out.The director of the Youth Welfare department recently had a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor where he got a nod to manage things individually.The liaison between the university and the AIU was clear and definite till about 1990 .The following period saw lack of coordination at the functional level between the youth affairs department and the DSW office which affected selection of the final team.

The biggest problem for fielding deserving candidates was that the college festivals of PU were not completed to give adequate time to hold the university level competition to pick the deserving candidates.The previous year's winners in inter-college level could make an easy entry into the university team.

The biggest flaw for not finalising the best teams was that the university schedule was too tight to provide adequate time for holding the college level competitions and the inter zonal competitions in time. Delayed sessions, late admissions and delayed examination only compounded the situation.

The Youth welfare department getting independent charge from the DSW office also makes it easier to organise other events including hiking trekking,youth festival clubs and leadership camps, Dr Dhillon said. Leadership camps were also on the agenda.

Dr Dhillon said independent charge would facilitate working conditions which would enable schedules for early competition of the college and zone level competitions.This makes coordination with the AIU better.

The chart for zonal youth festivals comprising 13 zones will be finalised shortly.The competitions will begin from October end at the college level to be followed by the zonal and the university level.Back


'Emphasis on total education'
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — Emphasis should be laid on the wholesome education of students, with special focus on confidence building exercise, with a view to preparing them to meet the challenges ahead of them. These views were expressed by Mr Charles Samuel, Principal of Mount Carmel School, Sector 46, in an interview here today.

However, classroom teaching and learning is not at all wholesome education. Extra-curricular activities play an important role in developing the personality of a child. According to Mr Charles, various activities are organised in the school to give students opportunities to exhibit their talents. Students are not only given a free hand in preparing items for these cultural programmes, but also in selecting and conducting these. He is of the view that weightage should be given to students who take active part in these activities. He is appreciative of the recent CBSE guidelines to schools on Certificate of School-based Evaluation which broadly gives an assessment of these co-scholastic areas.

Mr Charles J. Samuel, who has done M.Sc in mathematics and M.Ed (Education Management) had come to Chandigarh in 1964. He has also done his post graduate diplomas in marketing management and computer programming. He founded the school along with his wife in 1987.

"A good teacher is one who has a vision and sets an example for his students,'' he says. He should not confine himself within the domains of a classroom but should strive to build relationships with them outside by investigating into their personal problems. The motivation provided by teachers is sure to put students on a path of progress. An ideal teacher has the strength of character and also helps in building the characters of students by instilling healthy and positive values in them. Such teachers should constantly try to mould his or her students into good human beings.

Of late, there have been a few changes for the better in the CBSE syllabus. However, Mr Charles feels that a lot still needs to be done to improve the syllabus, so that it does not remain an unwarranted burden on students. For instance, more choice of subjects should be offered to students at the secondary level so that subject like mathematics and social science are not forcibly imposed on students in their present form.

Mr Samuel does not advocate corporal punishment as a solution to curb incidences of violence and hooliganism that have crept in our society. Though the adage says "Spare the rod and spoil the child'', this should not be misunderstood. The teacher should decide the punishment in such a way that he is able to make the student realise his mistake and decide sincerely not to repeat the same. They should avoid giving corporal punishment, for the punishment should be an instrument of correction by parents and teachers.

He is also against the concept of tuitions, which have become a menace. He feels that teachers should teach sincerely so that students do not have to depend on tuitions. However, he says tuitions have become fashion and passion for the present-day parents and students. Since today's parents do not have enough time to spend with their children, they force them into tuitions. Few other parents whose children are bright in studies, also opt for tuitions, for they feel that it will further improve their scores in the examination. This, at times, can also be at the cost of missing regular classes, he says. His advice to students is to work hard for a better tomorrow.Back


Meat-cum-fish market for SAS Nagar
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Sept 5 — Plans are afoot to provide proper place to the shops unauthorisedly selling meat, fish, pork and chicken from populated areas of the township. This move has been initiated by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) following complaints of unhygienic conditions being spread by these shops near residential areas.

The surroundings of such shops, mostly located in labour colonies or outer fringes of the villages falling within the limits of the township, stink and flies are abundant. The vitals of these animals are often thrown in open spaces which attract birds and stray animals.

In a particular instance residents of Phase I have complained that vitals thrown in open spaces behind the Ranbaxy factory are often picked up by animals and littered around — close to a religious place.

Officials of the Municipal Council say that barring 10 meat shops, which are licensed, the rest are being run unauthorisedly. They put the number of such shops in Phases I, VII and XII and slum areas at around 60.

They say that no new licence to run a meat, chicken and fish shop within the municipal limits has been given during the past one year. Some of these shops have got stay orders from a court against any action by the enforcement staff, they add.

Explaining their plight, harried residents say that most of the shops are run from makeshift ''khokhas''. These shops do not have adequate light and ventilation. There are no drains and proper dustbins to dispose of the vitals.

To solve the problem, PUDA officials say that the proposed meat-cum-fish market would be located on the outer fringes of the township. Recently a meeting was held between officials of the Fisheries Department and PUDA officials.Back



Nutrition week celebrated
Tribune News Service
CHANDIGARH, Sept 5 — The Nutrition Society of India, Chandigarh Chapter, in collaboration with Government Model Middle School, Sector 12, celebrated the nutrition week by organising a talk for school children yesterday on the school premises.

Dr Madhu Sharma, Dietician, Advanced Paediatrics Centre, PGI, spoke on the importance of good nutrition and a balanced diet and the consequences of nutritional deficiencies.Back

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