Monday, February 14, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





Rebels eat into party vote banks
FARIDABAD, Feb 13 — The fate of six former ministers and one member of the Chautala cabinet is at stake in the coming Vidhan Sabha election in six constituencies of Faridabad district.

Ajay Chautala expels 3 INLD rebels
JIND, Feb 13 — The week-long drama about the alleged support of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to the rebel INLD candidate from here, Mr Gulshan Bharadwaj, against the official alliance candidate, Mr Rameshwardass Gupta of the BJP, ended today with the party deciding to expel Mr Bharadwaj along with the district INLD spokesperson Umaid Singh Ikus and the local unit president Mr Bhupinder Singh from the primary membership of the party for six years.

CM denies backing Independents
The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala’s schedule has been hectic ever since the elections were announced for the Haryana Assembly. He has been actively canvassing for the alliance candidates day and night.

Haryana Pradesh Congress President Bhupender Singh Hooda releasing the Congress manifesto for the forthcoming Assembly election in Rohtak on Sunday
Rohtak: Haryana Pradesh Congress President Bhupender Singh Hooda releasing the Congress manifesto for the forthcoming Assembly election in Rohtak on Sunday — PTI photo

Many artisans without identification proof
PANIPAT, Feb 13 — It has been more than 36 years since Mohammad Hanif, a handloom artisan migrated here from Bijnor. But till today Hanif has not even a ration card to his name, leave alone the photo identity card, the use of which has been made mandatory by the Election Commission for casting one’s vote in the forthcoming assembly poll in Haryana.



  Cost effective telecom system
PANIPAT: Telecommunication technology is in for a major change. The introduction of the Wireless Local Loop (WLL) system which is undergoing field trials by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) at Panipat, Rajkot, Bhopal and Mumbai promises to revolutionise the telecom networking in the country.

Treat retarded kids as normal: expert
SIRSA, Feb 13 — Eminent neuro-surgeon, Dr V.K. Kak, while emphasising the need to open schools for retarded children at the district level, has said society should treat retarded children similar to that of normal children and their parents should take them to the parties and other functions so that they do not feel neglected.

Gohana to have sugar mill soon
SONEPAT, Feb 13 — The Haryana Government has initiated steps for the construction of a cooperative sugar mill at Ahulana village in Gohana subdivision of this district.

College seeks grant
AMBALA Feb 13 — Guru Harkishan Khalsa College, Panjokhra Sahib, today sought a grant-in-aid from the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala.


Rebels eat into party vote banks
From D.N. Chaturvedi
Tribune News Service

FARIDABAD, Feb 13 — The fate of six former ministers and one member of the Chautala cabinet is at stake in the coming Vidhan Sabha election in six constituencies of Faridabad district.

The former ministers are Mr Krishna Pal Gujar (BJP) and Mr Mahendra Pratap Singh (rebel Congress) in Mewla Maharajpur, Mr A.C.Chowdhary (Congress) in NIT, Mr Ram Bilas Sharma (BJP) in Ballabhgarh, Mr Harsh Kumar (HVP) in Hathin, Mr Karan Dalal (RPI) in Palwal and Mr Jagdish Nayar (INLD), a minister in the caretaker government.

While Mr Gujar is seeking re-election from Mewla Maharajpur Mr Mahendra Pratap Singh jumped into the fray after he was denied the Congress ticket. He is now contesting on the BSP ticket and has also managed to get the support of the Rashtriya Lok Dal of Mr Ajit Singh, a prominent Jat leader of western U.P who also exercises some influence in Haryana.

In the last Vidhan Sabha election in 1996 Mr Mahendra Pratap Singh the Congress nominee lost to Mr Gujar of the BJP by 26417 votes. The official Congress candidate in Mewla Maharajpur, the largest constituency in Haryana is Mr J.P. Nagar. All three candidates are from the Gujjar community which represents around 20 per cent of voters.

In NIT Mr Chander Bhatia (BJP), a member of the dissolved house is again pitted against Mr Chowdhary of the Congress, who was defeated by 34,407 votes in the last election. Although Mr Chowdhary has managed to get the party ticket with the blessing of Mr Bhajan Lal given the claim of Mr Gian Chand Ahuja it remains to be seen whether those leaders who were denied nomination would work for him with their heart. Thus Subedar Suman, a former Mayor of Faridabad and a Congressman who is in the field as an Independent could be some cause for concern.

Ballabhgarh has become one of the key constituencies of Haryana with Mr Ram Bilas Sharma, a top leader of the BJP in the field. He is banking on the large Brahmin vote. But the rank and file of the BJP is cool towards him after Mr Anand Sharma who was a member of the dissolved house was denied the ticket. He is considered an outsider and is also contesting from Mahendragarh, his home district.

Mr Sharma is facing Mr Subhash Chowdhary (Congress) and Mr Rajendra Singh Bisla, a rebel Congressman, a former chairman of the state Finance Commission.

In Palwal Mr Karan Dalal who has been denied the BJP ticket due to opposition by Mr Chautala, is pitted against Mr Devinder Chauhan (INLD), Mr Subhash Chowdhary (BSP) and Mr Yogesh Gaur (Congress).

Mr Harsh Kumar (HVP) is in a triangular fight with Mr Azmat Khan (Congress) and Mr Bhagwan Sahay (INLD) in Hathin.

In Hasanpur Mr Jagdish Nayar (INLD), a minister in the caretaker government is being opposed by Mr Ram Ratan (Congress) and Mr Uday Bhan (rebel Congress).


Ajay Chautala expels 3 INLD rebels
Alliance confusion over
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

JIND, Feb 13 — The week-long drama about the alleged support of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to the rebel INLD candidate from here, Mr Gulshan Bharadwaj, against the official alliance candidate, Mr Rameshwardass Gupta of the BJP, ended today with the party deciding to expel Mr Bharadwaj along with the district INLD spokesperson Umaid Singh Ikus and the local unit president Mr Bhupinder Singh from the primary membership of the party for six years.

The decision to expel the three was announced by the senior party leader and Bhiwani MP, Mr Ajay Chautala, at a press conference organised at the BJP office here. Mr Chautala said Mr Gupta was the “official alliance candidate and no party (INLD) worker should work against him”.

Announcing the decision of expulsion, he warned all party workers that disciplinary action would be taken against them, in case they supported Mr Gulshan Bharadwaj. Interestingly, Mr Bharadwaj is contesting on the official INLD symbol of ‘spectacles’.

The open support of the entire INLD cadre to Mr Bharadwaj had created serious misunderstandings between the alliance partners. The differences had not remained confined to the Jind assembly segment only, but had percolated to other constituencies like the important constituency of Narwana where INLD chief and Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala is contesting against Mr Randeep Surjewala of the Congress.

The BJP cadre, which commands influence in Narwana town, had dissociated itself from the INLD campaign. During Mr Ajay Chautala’s tour of the constituency yesterday, he had found BJP workers indifferent and at certain places they were even hostile.

Hundreds of BJP workers staged a demonstration at Uchana, against the alleged INLD support to Mr Bharadwaj. The Jind district BJP had planned district-wide protests today. But these were cancelled, after Mr Ajay Chautala announced the decision of expelling the rebel candidate along with his supporters.

For the INLD it was difficult to make a choice. Mr Bharadwaj is said to be a committed follower of Mr Devi Lal and Mr Chautala. Yesterday, when Mr Ajay Chautala came here to appear in a court case, Mr Bharadwaj expected him to visit his office. However, Mr Chautala did not go there. But this was no consolation for the BJP, as he did not visit the BJP office either.

Informed sources said after reviewing situation, Mr Ajay Chautala following consultations with the party leadership announced the decision to expel Mr Bharadwaj. He said, he had been asked to withdraw before February 10. As he did not withdraw, the party was left with no choice but to expel him.

On the other hand, the supporters of Mr Bharadwaj claimed, they continued to be the followers of Mr Chautala and understood his (Mr Chautala’s) compulsions. Claiming victory, they said despite having been expelled, Mr Bharadwaj would support Mr Chautala only, when he forms the government. There was no resentment among the party workers in the office of Mr Bharadwaj. Mr M.S. Malik, an INLD worker said the decision was not unexpected, so there was no scope for resentment. The photographs of Mr Devi Lal and Mr Chautala were not removed either.

At Hisar, the BJP General Secretary, Mr Narinder Modi, welcomed the INLD decision. He said the two parties were committed to the alliance which was reflected in today’s decision of the INLD. He said, it was the “vicious propaganda” of the opponents that the INLD was not supporting BJP candidates sincerely.

He said, same was true about Hisar. He refuted the charge that the INLD workers were tacitly supporting Independent candidate, Mr Om Prakash Mahajan. He pointed out that Mr Devi Lal had personally campaigned for Dr Kamal Gupta, the alliance candidate (of the BJP) from Hisar. “What further proof of their (INLD) sincerity do you require”, he asked.


CM denies backing Independents
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala’s schedule has been hectic ever since the elections were announced for the Haryana Assembly. He has been actively canvassing for the alliance candidates day and night. This time, he is seeking a mandate to serve the people for full five years. Mr Chautala talked to TNS at Sisai village, where he was campaigning for the INLD candidate from Chirai constituency, Mr Puran Singh Dhabra.

Q: Certain Independent candidates have been claiming your blessings, which has sent confusing signals in the alliance. Why have you remained silent?

A: I am committed to the alliance. My support is only for the official candidates of the alliance, whether from the INLD or the BJP. This is a distortion being spread by the rivals, who do not want the alliance to repeat the Lok Sabha performance. In fact, it is their desperate frustration that makes them spread such propaganda.

Q: But there are certain constituencies where the INLD workers are supporting Independent candidates?

A: I have issued clear and unambiguous instructions to all party workers that they will actively associate themselves with the official alliance candidates. There are some candidates from both the parties (the BJP and the INLD) who are still in the fray despite our clear directions. We expect them to withdraw. In case they do not, action will be taken against them. As regards the INLD workers associating themselves with some Independents against the official candidates, this is absolutely baseless as the INLD and BJP workers are working together as they did during the Lok Sabha elections.

Q: Will you be campaigning for the BJP candidates?

A: Of course I will. In fact, I do not consider our candidates as INLD or BJP candidates. They are the alliance candidates. I am campaigning for Prof Ganeshi Lal in Mandi Adampur, and all other alliance candidates contesting on the BJP symbol. I will address public meetings in all 90 assembly segments. I believe that sincerely in the alliance alone will lead us to phenomenal victory.

Q: What are the main issues you are raising?

A: Our election manifesto already answers this question. But I will tell you, clean and responsive administration will be our main issue. We will ensure all-round development of the state. Because the previous regimes during the past decade have failed the people miserably. We have already made a beginning during our six months’ stay in power.

Q: What about free power and water to farmers?

A: The issue is not free power or water. The farmers want power and water in the required quantity. Tell me how can farmers benefit, if there will be free water and power but without sufficient quantity. We will ensure that the power and water is available to farmers, not just in sufficient but abundant quantity. We will provide maximum uninterrupted power to industrial and domestic sector also.

Q: And what about the SYL issue?

A: This does not fall in our jurisdiction. Although it concerns us the most, we are helpless in this regard. Because most of the water of our share falls into Pakistan, while our land goes dry. It is the responsibility of the Centre to ensure that Haryana gets its due share. I am sure Atalji will manage to settle the SYL issue as he did in case of the Cauvery dispute. We can only extend our sincere and constructive cooperation.

Q: How many seats do you expect the alliance will win this time?

A: The question stands already answered. Our phenomenal performance in the Lok Sabha election is irrefutable proof of the results going in our favour. Moreover, whenever we have fought in an alliance, no party has been able to to defeat us. This time it will be the repeat of 1999 Lok Sabha elections and 1987 assembly elections which we fought under the leadership of Tau Devi Lal.

Q: You do not see any signs of a Congress revival?

A: (Smiles). Which revival. The Congress continues to be a divided house, with at least four claimants for the chief ministership. Their so called revival was evident, when the party could not finalise its candidates for the elections. I am not sure, whether they did bring out final official list of candidates.


Many artisans without identification proof
Tribune News Service

PANIPAT, Feb 13 — It has been more than 36 years since Mohammad Hanif, a handloom artisan migrated here from Bijnor. But till today Hanif has not even a ration card to his name, leave alone the photo identity card, the use of which has been made mandatory by the Election Commission for casting one’s vote in the forthcoming assembly poll in Haryana. “After migrating from Bijnor our names were struck off from the voters list there. In the past few years my family has been shuttling often and then. So we never got prepared a ration card”, he says. When asked what documentary proof could he show to establish his identity, Hanif fell silent.

In the past two years, Mohammad Qasim has been photographed thrice by the district election officials but still photo I-card remains an elusive dream for him. A resident of Imam Sahib Colony for the past 16 years, Qasim has no ration card or any other documentary proof of his identity. Similar is the case of a powerloom worker Sirajuddin of Hali Colony who had got himself photographed some months back but is yet to receive the I-card. “We had migrated 15 years ago from district Nainital and settled down here. But somehow all these years despite my best efforts I could not get even a ration card for my family,” he says.

Buoyed by its claim of having prepared photo I-cards of 90 per cent voters in the state, the Election Commission though has decided that any other documentary proof of identity such as ration card, driving licence, passport, identity card issued by public sector undertaking or a private firm, property of tax documents, bank passbook etc would be sufficient for those whose cards have not been prepared. But there are thousands of voters like Hanif, Qasim and Sirajuddin and who will not be able to match even these parameters.

Says Mohammad Irfan Ansari, general secretary of the Muslim Samaj Samiti : “There are more than one lakhs handloom artisans and workers ( mostly muslims) who have migrated from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Though some of them keep shuttling throughout the year many have been permanently settled here for decades. It is an irony that despite being a resident of this town they do not have any proof of identification.’’

Ansari points out that in many cases when the people change their residences from one locality to another their names are struck from the voters list and they find it difficult to get enrolled again owing to certain technicalities. “In these small localities, many a times the house owners make it sure that their tenants do not get a ration card, an I-card or any other proof of his residence as they fear that the tenant after obtaining such documentary proof might not vacate their premises and involve them into litigation”, says Ansari.

Officials of the district election office say that photo I-cards to 90 per cent voters have been given so far. “We have not received the figures of the I-cards distributed in December and January. The I-cards prepared in February will be distributed before the elections,’’ said an official.



Devi Lal comes to BJP nominee’s rescue
Tribune News Service

HISAR, Feb 13 — While the cancellation of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit here on February 11 was disappointing for local BJP candidate Kamal Gupta, the last minute arrival of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal to his office saved the day for him.

It was natural for the BJP candidate to feel disappointed as even Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala was absent from the venue, that too at a time when an Independent candidate, Mr Om Prakash Mahajan, has claimed that he enjoyed the “blessings” of Mr Chautala.

In order to ensure that the morale of the BJP cadres is maintained, party leaders arranged Mr Devi Lal’s visit to the offices of Dr Kamal Gupta and Prof Ganeshi Lal, who is contesting from Mandi Adampur.

Dr Kamal Gupta will be facing a four-cornered contest.

It was after the cancellation of Mr Vajpayee’s visit that the INLD and BJP leaders realised the urgency to control the damage. The BJP is now planning another rally which is expected to be addressed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala and senior party leaders.

Today’s decision by the INLD to expel its rebel candidate from Jind, has also come as a shot in the arm for the BJP. “The INLD has given a clear message that it is committed to the alliance”, the BJP general secretary Mr Narinder Modi, who was here for campaigning, told a press conference.

Some other BJP leaders, including Mr Madan Lal Khurana and film star-turned-politician Vinod Khanna are also expected to campaign for Dr Gupta.



Straight fight in Bhattu Kalan
From Sushil Manav

BHATTU KALAN (Fatehabad), Feb 12 — Bhattu Kalan is one of the few Assembly constituencies of Haryana, which has attracted the attention of political observers since 1977 when Chowdhary Devi Lal contested the election from this rural seat and went on to become the Chief Minister.

Since then the constituency has been witness to fierce electoral battles in which current Finance Minister Sampat Singh won thrice and former Home Minister Mani Ram Godara won once, in 1996. Mr Sampat Singh is seeking reelection on the INLD ticket, although his traditional opponent, Mr Mani Ram Godara who also joined the INLD recently, is out of the fray. The Congress has fielded its senior leader and a former minister, Mr Jagdish Nehra.

An entirely rural constituency, Bhattu Kalan can be divided for the sake of convenience into three separate zones. One zone is dominated by the Bagri Jats, a second by the Bishnois and the third by Deswal Jats. Former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal was elected from here in 1977 with margin of 6552 votes. In the 1982 election Mr Sampat Singh as an independent, supported by Chowdhary Devi Lal defeated Mr Ran Singh of the Congress by a margin of over 7000 votes. In the 1987 election he defeated Mr Mani Ram Godara of the Congress by 18,000 votes and in 1991 by a margin of 2700 votes. But in the 1996 Mr Godara turned the tables on Mr Sampat Singh, defeating him by a margin of over 8,000 votes.

From the Congress former Union Minister Ms Selja has campaigned for Mr Nehra and Mr Bhajan Lal, who wields a lot of influence in this constituency, is expected to campaign. By contrast Mr Sampat Singh as a senior leader of the INLD has been campaigning in neighbouring Fatehabad constituency alongside Bhattu Kalan.

A total of 10 candidates are in the fray. The HVP, which won the last Assembly elections has fielded a little known woman candidate, Ms Kamlesh Kumari, while the BSP has fielded Mr Inder Singh. But the seat is likely to witness a straight fight between Mr Sampat Singh and Mr Jagdish Nehra.


Rebels make poll scene hazy in Ambala district
From Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

AMBALA: The presence of rebels protesting against the “wrong” selection of candidates in various parties has made the poll scene hazy in many of the nine assembly segments of the Ambala Lok Sabha seat spread over three districts of Panchkula, Ambala and Yamunanagar. The Congress and the BJP are more seriously afflicted with malaise than the INLD.

The INLD has to face revolt mostly by those former MLAs who had joined it after the fall of the HVP government. Though such MLAs helped the INLD supremo, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in becoming the Chief Minister, the party cadre never accepted them as part of the party as they had been either the HVP MLAs or Independents and had crossed swords with the INLD workers a number of times in the past years.

The Congress and the BJP nominees lost valuable time in many constituencies in placating partymen who were not happy about their candidates. Meanwhile, the INLD campaign surged ahead because its main leaders dare not defy the dictates of the leadership even if they had any reservation about the candidates. However, the Congress and the BJP workers did not adopt non-cooperative attitude in those constituencies where the parties fielded expected candidates.

Both the Congress and the BJP have fielded new faces in Ambala City. Mrs Kiran Bala Jain (Congress) will take on Mrs Veena Chhibber of the BJP. The selection of both has been resented to by their respective partymen. Mrs Jain, former Deputy Advocate-General of Haryana, had to work hard to appease her colleagues in the first few days of campaigning. Mrs Chhibber, former chief of the Haryana Mahila Morcha, women’s wing of the BJP, is threatened by the presence of a rebel, Mr Nirmal Vij, former president of the local civil body. Mr Vij has the potential to upset the applecart of the INLD-BJP alliance in the city.

Mr Anil Vij, who successfully contested the 1996 assembly elections from Ambala Cantonment, after revolting against the BJP leadership’s decision to deny him the ticket, is again posing a challenge to the BJP nominee, Dr Kabir Dev Sharma, and the Congress candidate, Mrs Sudarshan who had been the president of the civic body.

Dr Sharma, who is a leading orthopaedists of the region, entered electoral politics in 1996 when he lost to Mr Vij because the BJP cadre had not accepted him. However, since then Dr Sharma had been active in the party and claims to have overcome the reservations of his partymen. He says that BJP MPs Ms Sushma Swaraj and her husband Swaraj Kaushal, Mr Suraj Bhan and Mr Rattan Lal Kataria have spent crores of rupees on the development of Ambala Cantonment out of the MP local area fund. Therefore, the voters, he says, will prefer the BJP over the other parties.

Mr Vij, a bachelor, proudly proclaims that in this land of defectors he did not change his stand to support the HVP government, though being an Independent, there was no legal bar on him. His supporters say Mr Vij had been able to persuade the state government to do for the cantonment so much as no other government had done earlier. He started his campaign even before the other parties started selection of the candidates. Mrs Dua is yet to start her campaigning.

The keenest contest in Ambala will be witnessed in the Naggal segment from where former President of the Haryana Youth Congress, Nirmal Singh is seeking his re-election to the assembly on the Congress ticket. He has been contesting this seat since 1982 when he became the MLA for the first time. He lost the elections in 1987 to the Lok Dal-supported Independent, Mr Harmohinder Singh Chatha, and regained the seat in 1991 and 1996. The last elections he won as Independent with a margin of over 20,000 votes from a jail where he was lodged on a murder charge.

This time Mr Nirmal Singh is facing a strong challenge from Mr Jasbir Singh Mallaur of the INLD. In fact, Mr Nirmal Singh and Mr Chautala are distantly related. But Mr Nirmal Singh did not oblige the INLD leader when he sought the support of the Naggal MLA after the fall of the HVP government. Moreover, Mr Nirmal Singh has always been taking up cudgels against the Lok Dal in Ambala district.

His rival, Mr Mallaur contested the 1996 elections on the HVP ticket but lost. After Mr Bansi Lal picked up Mr Nirmal Singh, Mr Mallaur joined the INLD. Over the years he has been identified as a symbol of anti-Nirmal forces in the area.

The INLD has launched a high profile campaign in Naggal giving sleepless nights to Mr Nirmal Singh, who is contesting on the Congress ticket. However, the aggressive INLD campaigning has stupefied members of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, who are in the process or polarising on the other end of the spectrum. The process promises a keen contest.

In the Mullana reserved constituency the Congress candidate, Mr Phool Chand Mullana, a former minister, finds the sitting INLD MLA, Mr Risal Singh, too comfortable to be dislodged. The voters of the constituency are appreciative of both candidates’ behaviour and find it difficult to make a selection. There is an Independent candidate in the seven cornered contest. The other contestants are Ms Kusum Sherwal (BJP), Ms Jaswinder Kaur (HVP), Mr Vijay Kumar (NCP), Mr Parkash (BSP-A) and Mr Krishan Chand (RPI).

Mr Shyam Lal Bansal (BJP), who is supported by the INLD, is making a desperate attempt to stop Mr Chander Mohan (Cong) from making it a hat-trick to entering the assembly from the Kalka constituency. Being a sitting MLA, Mr Chander Mohan was sure of his ticket from the day one. Therefore, he launched his campaign very early. Mr Bansal is a late entrant because of the prolonged tussle between the BJP and the INLD over seat-sharing.

Mr Bansal is hopeful that the combine vote of the BJP and the INLD would see him romp home because the two parties together polled more votes than what Mr Chander Mohan could get. However, the Congress managers point out that in electoral mathematics two plus two do not always make four. “If it can be five, it can be three also”, they say.

Much will depend how much votes the BJP is able to retain and how much the INLD vote is transferred to its electoral partner. The presence of Mr Jagdeep Choudhary, brother of the INLD secretary-general Pradeep, as the BSP candidate is being viewed with suspicion by BJP sympathisers. However, Mr Ram Gopal Mehta, district INLD chief, says Jagdeep will only harm the Congress.

It is virtually a marriage of hearts between the BJP and the INLD at Sadhaura where the latter has fielded Mr Balwant Singh Kot Kachwa. His daughter was recently married to Mr Arun Kumar, youngest son of Mr Suraj Bhan, BJP leader and Governor of Uttar Pradesh. The workers of the two parties are working for the success of their nominees in the face of a strong challenge by Mr Deep Chand of the Congress and Mr Aman Kumar Nagra, chief of the BSP.

Former Haryana minister Lal Singh (Congress) is locked in a 10-day cornered contest at Naraingarh, is facing a tough fight from Mr Pawan Kumar Diwan (INLD) and Mr Man Singh (BSP).

Dr Ram Prakash, secretary of the Haryana Congress, is trying to make room for himself at Jagadhari, the constituency from where he was least expected to contest. The 12-cornered contest is presently dominated by Mr Bishan Lal of the BSP and Mr Rameshwar Kumar of the BJP.

Mr Akram Khan (Independent) is locked in a tough battle with Mr Kanwar Pal of the BJP to retain the Chhachhrauli, a seat which has been held first by his father and then by him since 1987. The BJP hopes that Mr Khan’s vote bank may be eaten into by Mr Amir Hassan of the BSP.



Sharma promises development
Tribune News Service

AMBALA Feb 13 — Dr K.D. Sharma, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for the Ambala Cantonment Assembly seat, today raised the issue of unauthorised colonies and assured that the matter would be looked into it when he is elected.

Dr Sharma said this issue had been raised by him during his meeting with Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala. "Mr Chautala said the savings of the people had been invested to build the houses and no harm would come to them," he said, according to press note.

He visited Ekta Vihar, Gurunanak Nagar, Ravidas Nagar and adjoining areas during his campaigning. He said he would ensure that development activity takes place in these colonies. "I promise that the development work that has come to a standstill will be renewed after I win," he said.

At a corner meeting at Dayal Bagh and Shiv Pratap Nagar, Dr Sharma said he had been working for the welfare of the people for the last four years. "I understand the problems of the people and only a committed worker like me can bring about a change in Ambala Cantonment," he claimed.


289 polling booths set up in Kalka
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH Feb 13 — As many as 289 polling centres have been established in the Kalka Assembly Constituency for the smooth conduct of the elections scheduled for February 22 and eight places have been identified as sensitive polling stations. A total of 168 centres are in rural areas and 121 in urban areas.

This information was given by Mr S. K. Monga, District Electoral Officer and Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a press conference here on Friday. The eight sensitive polling stations are Baddgodam, Rattpur, Gaddi, Koraha, Karrol, Bataur, Barwala and Rajiv Colony.

Giving information regarding the election arrangements, he said that a route chart had been prepared for sending polling parties to various centres. For this purpose, 70 trucks and 14 jeeps had been arranged.

He added that polling parties for 28 polling centres would be dispatched in special vehicles along with the employees of the Forest Department who are familiar with the terrain in Morni. As many as 320 polling parties had been constituted which include reserve staff for polling centres and 26 supervisors appointed to look after work of these polling parties. Besides, 12 magistrates had been specially appointed for ensuring law and order in the area. They have police parties attached with them.

Mr Monga said the Election Commission has given directions that all the voters should use photo-identity cards so that elections could be held in a free and fair manner and false voting avoided. He said that it was mandatory that all voters show their photo-identity cards when they come to caste their votes.

He said that voters who had not made their photo identity cards should show their driving licences, passport, ration card, tax documents, bank or post office passbook, kisan pass book, electricity bill, chulha tax bill or any other similar document to the presiding officer at the time of voting.

The Deputy Commissioner further informed that a meeting of all candidates, political parties and election agents would soon be called to give information regarding the orders of the commission. Necessary orders had also been issued for providing this information to all the sarpanches, presiding officers and cable operators. Staff of the Public Relations Department were also being utilised to spread the word.

Further, he said, this was the first time that electronic voting machines would be used in the Kalka Assembly Constituency. It was, therefore, essential that the voters, election staff, political parties and polling agents be educated about their use. The administration had already trained 1,500 officers and employees concerned with the elections for using voting machine.

Advance publicity had already been conducted in all villages of this constituency and special teams dispatched to educate people on the use of these machines. Special camps had been set up in various places in the rural and urban areas, including the offices of the block development and panchayat officers, municipal committees in Kalka and Pinjore.

Mr Monga added that counting would be held at the community centre in BEL Colony. The polling parties constituted for the polling day would be provided essential training on February 12 and 18 in Yavnika Open Theatre. The Sub-Divisional Officer would be the Returning Officer and the Tehsildar would be the Assistant Returning Officer.

The Superintendent of Police, Mr Sudhir Chowdhary, said that adequate police arrangements had been made at all polling stations and special nakas would be set up on the day of voting. In addition to the Haryana Police, the department had sought help of the Armed Police, Home Guards and Forest Department. Nearly 14 duty magistrates had been assigned duty.



Cost effective telecom system
From Hitender Rao
Tribune News Service

PANIPAT: Telecommunication technology is in for a major change. The introduction of the Wireless Local Loop (WLL) system which is undergoing field trials by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) at Panipat, Rajkot, Bhopal and Mumbai promises to revolutionise the telecom networking in the country. This technology will replace the traditional copper twisted-pair local loop which is the conventional system of providing telecom services to subscribers through cables.

Telecom engineers say that copper wires have provided access to the telephone network for the past century and though significant changes have been taking place in telecom technology, the copper local loop from the exchange to the subscriber’s place has remained more or less the same. But with the introduction of the WLL and the Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN), the limitations of the copper era will be overcome. These technologies not only offer subscribers the bandwidth of their choice and mobility but will also prove to be a key component to serve them in densely populated areas. Besides, the WLL system is considered a superior alternative to the buried cable.

But what is the WLL technology? Explains an engineer of the Himachal Futuristic Communication Limited (HFCL), a company which is manufacturing WLL equipment: ‘‘The WLL system mainly comprises three components — the Dect Interface Unit (DIU), the Compact Base Station (CBS) and the Wallset. The DIU is an exchange for the wireless system set up at the main telephone exchange and it interfaces with the telecom network. The CBS is a small pole-mounted or wall-mounted radio trans-receiver which provide wireless access in the area and the Wallset is a compact wall-mounted unit with a small antenna which receives the signals from the CBS.’’

The DIU acts as a switch and base station for the wireless system and it interfaces with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) on one side and the CBS, (distributors) on the other side. The CBS is a small, remotely powered unit housed in a sealed weather-proof enclosure that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use while the Wallset is a terminal adapter for Dect (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone) to which a standard telephone, modem, fax or payphone can be connected.

The technology is undergoing field trials in Panipat since April last year on 250 internal lines of the DoT. These trials are being conducted by the DoT with assistance from Midas Communication Technologies, Chennai, who are among the companies developing the WLL technology and the HFCL, the manufacturers of the WLL equipment.

‘‘In a congested old city like Panipat, this technology can prove to be a boon for the subscribers. It will be operationally smooth and the problem of digging up congested lanes and erecting poles will be over. Then there will be a minimal incidence of fault due to breakage of cables or seepage of water during rains. The other advantages of this system are that that it can be installed and shifted easily, said a senior telecom official.

Though initially, the restrictive costs of the WLL system may not make it accessible to the consumer but since many private sector companies too are working on providing telecom service through this system, experts feel that soon this technology will be utilised on a mass scale. An engineer points out: ‘‘There are other aspects also which will eventually make this technology popular. Copper is becoming costlier day by day and almost 50 per cent of the network cost of the DoT is consumed in the conventional local loop system. So in the long run, the WLL system will prove to be cost-effective’’.



INLD divided over Panipat
From Rakesh Bhardwaj

PANIPAT, Feb 13 — A multi-cornered contest is on the cards in the coming Vidhan Sabha polls with the official Congress and NDA candidate and several prominent rebels and Independents in the fray in this seat. Interestingly, Congressmen who left the party in droves and joined the Sarv Jatiya Panchayat in 1996 to contest as Independents have now rejoined the parent party.

Prominent among those who rejoined the Congress are Ram Niwas Gupta and Prem Sachdeva, both of whom were aspirants for the Congress ticket are now backing the official nominee Balbir Pal Shah.

Ashok Khurana who had left the HVP to join the INLD some months ago has also joined the Congress. Because of this trend there is jubilation in Congress ranks while the Panchayat is subdued.

By contrast the INLD camp has been thrown into confusion because of Mr Om Prakash Chautala appearing to back at least three candidates.

Officially the NDA candidate is Dr Manohar Lal Suneja of the BJP, an RSS activist who is also supported by I.D. Swami, Minister of State for Home. Mr Om Prakash Jain, a minister in the Chautala cabinet who won the seat in the 1996 Assembly elections is contesting independently.


A wrestler enters political arena

KHARKHAUDA (Sonepat): An Arjuna Award in 1998, holder of numerous titles like the Hind Kesri, Bharat Kesri and Rustum-e-Hind for 10 years and a satisfying career in the Border Security Force (BSF), Mr Sanjay Pehalwan had probably everything a successful sportsman could ask for. Yet, he says, the plight of thousands of qualified but unemployed youngsters pained him.

After having flexed his biceps for long enough, he has quit the BSF job to jump into the political “akhara” for yet another bout. He is the Congress candidate from the Rohat Assembly constituency. “Ours is a quite backward area. Being a successful sportsman from this area people used to look upon me for help. Many used to come to me get their wards employed. But I could not do much for them because everywhere there is favouritism. So, I thought that the best way to work for the people was through entering politics,” he says.

Coming from a humble agriculturist family of Matindu village, he and his three brothers — Kuldip, Jagbir and Satish — remained national level wrestlers. Mr Sanjay Pehalwan even represented the country at the 1986, 1990 and 1994 Asian Games also. The brothers have opened an akhara, the Sanjay Shikhsa and Malvidyalay Kendra, in Delhi and a senior secondary school at Kharkhauda. “I have my priorities worked out. We want development of our area, problems like irrigational water has to be addressed and our youth has to be involved in the mainstream,” he says. He was a Deputy Commandant in the BSF posted at Chhawla when he decided to enter the electoral fray. “People have given me so much love an honour as a wrestler. It is due to their good wishes and blessings that I have reached the top. I still cannot forget how village elders used to reward us when we won the wrestling bouts. Now it is our turn to give something back to them,” he says proudly.

“Sanjay could have carried on with the BSF job but it was only because of his ‘sewa bhavna’ that he decided to resign and entered politics. We are fighting for the rights of our people,” says his brother Kuldip.

Accompanied by a group of wrestlers, Mr Sanjay Pehalwan makes door-to-door visits, meeting people and asking for their support, like a seasoned politician. “It is great thing that the party has given representation to a sportsman of his calibre. It is quite encouraging for others also,” exclaims his brother Jagbir. While elder brothers Kuldip and Jagbir take care of the logistical support for his campaign, the youngest Satish looks after the Sanjay Pehalwan during the hectic campaign.

What if he loses the elections? “There is no point in turning back. I have quit a flourishing career in the BSF and even they have written to me that now they will not take me back. Ours elders wanted that we brothers should become wrestlers and touch great heights. They always said that whatever one does it should be with full dedication. We hope to do the same in politics also,” he adds confidently.


No clear edge for any party
By R.P. Hooda

DESPITE having made their expectations quite clear, voters in Haryana are confused owing to their choices and aspirations not receiving the attention they deserve. To their own chagrin, nor have the individual candidates aspiring to be future legislators, independently or under the banner of various political parties, been able to focus on any issue the voters may rally around. Despite the dilemma, the voters are not afraid to disclose their views on a few other issues of more immediate relevance having a direct bearing on the outcome of the elections.

The general assessment of which party candidates have a winning chance in their respective constituencies, offer a picture not otherwise so much expected and pliable to many of us watching the election game from a distance. In this respect, the Congress is rated to have sluggishly reached the top for getting marginally higher score points over the INLD. In fact, the superiority of the former turns out to be too thin and can easily get eroded. The relative score points received by the two further reinforce that the current elections do not so far offer a cakewalk for their party. Both appear to be vying with each other by a single small step behind or ahead of the other.

The BJP, in its own identity, is too far behind in the race for being returned in any noticeable number. It is well ahead of the BSP and the HVP, which are finding the going tough. Interestingly, and as may be expected, the score points in favour of independents put them on a high winning pedestal. It indicates that candidates with no formal association with any political party will indeed be winning a number of seats.

On a more direct question whether any political party (or pre-election alliance) will get a clear majority in the current elections, the voters do foresee to be so. The response to a further query as to which political party (or a combine) will form the government defies any discernible outcome in favour of either of the two parties actively engrossed in the election fray. Here also, the Congress again emerges superior to Chautala-INLD alone, the former getting a total score points of 984 as against 661 in favour of the latter. But Chautala-INLD in alliance with the BJP does receive a clear lead over the Congress, although not to the extent of a clear sweep as the total score points in their alliance (1084) exceed those of the Congress only by 100 points.

Those who do not foresee (46.6 per cent) the possibility of a clear majority in favour of any party, had to face a more challenging situation in answering as to how in that event the government will be formed. Such voters, in the first place, see the independently elected legislators to be acting in their true colours, which is very consistent with the earlier observation that they are expected to surface in a more than expected number. That defectors will come into their usual role model and that, in consequence, money and muscle power will contribute its mite, have been rated to be relevant in the second and third place, respectively. While this is only what can be expected in the absence of any decisive mandate, the possibility of any new formal post-election alliance coming up as an alternative is expected to be very remote.

As to who is likely to be the next Haryana Chief Minister, the score points based on the response data put Mr O.P. Chautala at the top. He has, however, not been held too high for the coveted position. In the two-choice game of INLD-BJP combine vs the Congress, Mr Bhajan Lal cannot be taken to have lagged far behind even with 250 lower score points compared to Mr Chautala, especially in view of his (the former) unmatching political acumen and enviable ability to outmanoeuvre others in turning foes into friends. Mr Bhupinder Hooda who is rated far closer to Mr Bhajan Lal than Mr Birender Singh in the race for the chief ministerial berth in the Congress fold, has indeed more reasons than one to feel delighted.

In the context of what qualities the Chief Minister should be richer in, compassion for public cause is ranked at the highest ebb, followed closely by the personality trait of honesty and fair image. One should be apt in better governance gets recognition only at the third place in the order of importance. That he is able to render government stability, has a good past record, and enjoys mass appeal are rather low on the scale of preferred qualities which the Chief Minister ought to possess.



Local issues predominant
From Suman Bhatnagar

AMBALA, Feb 13 — Naggal, the most prestigious Assembly seat of district Ambala, seems set for a direct fight between the sitting independent MLA Nirmal Singh contesting this time on a Congress ticket and the INLD-BJP candidate, Jasbir Malour, who contested the last Assembly election on the HVP ticket. A third contender is the BSP candidate Bhupinder Saini.

In the absence of any wave local issues are likely to dominate the election scene in this hyper sensitive constituency. While development work started in various villages after the visit of Chief Minister to this constituency under the programme “Sarkar aapke dwar” in December last may give some political advantage to the INLD candidate. Issues like the distress sale of paddy, the water and the power crises and poor sanitation conditions in villages being raised by the Congress candidate may benefit the latter.

Spread over 165 villages the constituency has a total electorate of over 1,21,053. Of these 17,910 are Jats, 23,523 BC, 23,543 SC, 12,816 Sikhs, 7,229 Brahmin and 6,027 are Sainis. The around 10,000 voters of 46 unauthorised colonies which were served demolition notices by the Town and Country Planning Department recently will play an important role in the election. Both the INLD and Congress have filed Jat candidates, which may cause a division among Jat votes.

Mr Nirmal Singh is contesting for the fifth time. In 1982, 1987 and 1991 he contested on the Congress ticket and barring 1987 he won. In 1966, on denial of the ticket by the Congress, he contested as an independent candidate. At that time he was lodged in Ambala Central Jail on a murder charge. Later he was acquitted by the District and Sessions court. The INLD candidate Jasbir Malour is contesting for the second time. He first contested as an HVP candidate.

This election will be an acid test for both the Congress as well as for the INLD and the constituency will witness its toughest contest.

spread all over the state, had become “show-pieces’’ in the absence of any takers.


In brief

HVP leader joins INLD

SIRSA: Mr Hari Chand Mehta, state vice-president of the HVP, has joined the INLD. A procession from the local Janata Bhavan was taken out on Saturday to culminate at the election office of the alliance candidate for the Sirsa legislative Assembly, Mr Jagdish Chopra. — FOC

Aggarwal quits Congress

SONEPAT: Mr Sat Narain Aggarwal, an industrialist and former president of the District Congress Committee, on Saturday resigned from the primary membership of the Congress and joined the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). He announced this in the presence of INLD supremo and Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala at an election meeting organised in favour of BJP nominee Devi Dass. — FOC

87 pc voters ‘have’ identity cards

YAMUNANAGAR: The rehearsal by presiding officers for ensuring peaceful elections in this district has been conducted in two phases. Mr Rajiv Sharma, District Election Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, said here on Sunday that as per the instructions of the Election Commissioner to check the identity of voters, 87 per cent of the electorate had identity cards. He said the voters could produce ration cards and electricity bills etc. — FOC

Prohibitory orders

YAMUNANAGAR: The District Magistrate has prohibited the movement of more than two vehicles, including mechanically-propelled two-wheelers, from 8 pm on February 21 to the midnight of February 22 in view of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections here. The plying of any vehicle other than the permitted vehicle of a candidate, his election agent or his representative has also been banned. — FOC

Congress leader joins BJP

FARIDABAD: The Congress received a serious setback in this district when senior district leader Tek Chand Sharma joined the BJP on Saturday with a large number of his supporters. He also addressed several meetings at villages of the Ballabhgarh Assembly constituencies. — FOC

Fatehabad leads in photo I-cards

FATEHABAD: Fatehabad has taken a lead over all districts of Haryana in the issuance of photo identity cards to voters. Over 95 per cent of voters have already been issued their photo identity cards. In a press note issued here on Sunday, Mr Anil Malik, Deputy Commissioner, said those who did not get their identity cards before the day of polling could prove their identity by some other documents like ration cards, driving licences, bus passes and pass book. — FOC

Setback for INLD

ROHTAK: The ruling Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) received a severe jolt when several of its office-bearers and activists joined the Congress here on Sunday. According to the district Congress spokesperson those who left the INLD included president of the district (urban) unit, Mr Suresh Munjhal, and Dr Arvind Bedi, and Mr Ashok Arora (vice-presidents). — FOC


Sonia to campaign in Haryana

ROHTAK, Feb 13 (FOC) — Congress president Sonia Gandhi will visit Haryana on February 19 for campaigning.

According to Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) spokesperson, Pradeep Singh Punia, the Congress president will address public meeting at Jagadhri (Yamunanagar), Narwana, Hansi, Jhajjar and Mewat Chaupta. HPCC chief Bhupinder Singh Hooda will accompany Mrs Gandhi.


Treat retarded kids as normal: expert
Form Our Correspondent

SIRSA, Feb 13 — Eminent neuro-surgeon, Dr V.K. Kak, while emphasising the need to open schools for retarded children at the district level, has said society should treat retarded children similar to that of normal children and their parents should take them to the parties and other functions so that they do not feel neglected.

Dr Kak and his team of specialists were on a two-day tour of the district. He team inspected the school for retarded children "Prayas" and the centre for deaf and dumb yesterday. He said society should accept the fact that there was mental retardedness and the stigma against the disease had to be removed.

He said 2.4 per cent children were retarded and there was need to create awareness by educating the parents of the suffering regarding their upbringing. The parents should engage the suffering children in recreational activities and provide them vocational training, he observed.

He felt that the parents of retarded children should form an association and make suggestions for rehabilitation of such children. He revealed that a national trust for disabled and retarded children had been constituted at Lucknow by Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Rs 200 crore was kept at its disposal.


Gohana to have sugar mill soon
From Our Correspondent

SONEPAT, Feb 13 — The Haryana Government has initiated steps for the construction of a cooperative sugar mill at Ahulana village in Gohana subdivision of this district.

The state government has appointed the Deputy Commissioner as its Chairman and the Additional Deputy Commissioner as its Managing Director.

The state government has also convened a meeting on February 15 to appoint an architect for undertaking the construction work of the mill. The Financial Commissioner of the Haryana Cooperative Department will preside over the meeting.

The mill will be spread in an area of 15,000 acres and crush about 30 lakh quintals of sugarcane every year.


College seeks grant
Tribune News Service

AMBALA Feb 13 — Guru Harkishan Khalsa College, Panjokhra Sahib, today sought a grant-in-aid from the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

A memorandum regarding the demand of the college was submitted to Mr Chautala when he visited the historic gurdwara of Panjokhra Sahib to attend the annual gathering here. Addressing the gathering, he said one must follow the path shown by the Guru. Mr Surjit Singh Niddar, SGPC member, Mr Ratan Lal Kataria, MP, Mr Faqir Chand Aggarwal, former Deputy Speaker, and Mr Ranbir Singh Fauji were present.

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