|Wednesday, February 16, 2000,
Pension scheme used to boost INLD
HUDA estate a picture of apathy
3 killed as bus falls into ditch
Quota demanded on economic basis
Pension scheme used to boost
CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 Is the ruling INLD using the Haryana Government's old-age pension scheme to bolster up the prospects of its candidates in the coming Assembly elections? The size of the crowds thronging the offices of the Social Welfare department in districts lends at least some credence to the Opposition allegation. The process of identifying prospective beneficiaries seems to be unending, despite a statewide campaign launched in December.
Since the beginning of this year it has been ensured that the beneficiaries are paid regularly. The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, doubled the pension amount to Rs 200 from November 1 last. The economic criteria was relaxed. The qualifying age was reduced from 65 to 60.
The number of beneficiaries was about 6.50 lakh in the state. Another almost one lakh beneficiaries were identified in February-March, 1999. But the new beneficiaries were not paid pension till December, 1999. In the same month another 2.56 lakh new beneficiaries were identified, taking the total to over 10 lakh. This entailed an additional burden of Rs 79 crore per annum. Later the government decided to accept application forms of the "leftouts" following complaints. Meanwhile, the elections were announced.
There are no statistics available in the head office about the "leftouts" because these are yet to be received from the field. But the statistics of Sirsa, the home district of the Chautala family, may be an indicator. The number of beneficiaries jumped from 32,945 to 60,751 after the pension was doubled. What is the number of leftouts? While one official put it at 3,500 till February 9, the other said it was 6,500. He also said as it was the Chief Minister's district, "naturally there is pressure on us to accept new forms."
Mr Chautala's brother, Ranjit, who is facing the INLD supremo in Rori, alleges that the ruling party is using old-age pension forms as a sop to win over the voters. He also alleges that even underage persons (30 to 40 saal ke bhi) are being asked to fill the forms. He also alleges that INLD men are paying pension to new applicants from their own pocket.
In Gindran village of the Rori constituency the Chowkidar, Asa Ram told TNS that seven persons filled forms about a fortnight ago and received pension. But he as well as the sarpanch, Mr Mahavir Singh, who is an ardent Congress supporter, said the pension was paid by the patwari, the official channel for disbursement.
A department officer in Sirsa said pension had been paid to only those who filled the forms in December. The leftout cases were yet to be sent to the head office for sanction. An official spokesman here said that the case of those who filled their forms after December 31 was still to be cleared by the government.
A patwari of another village said the chances of underage persons getting pension were remote if the forms were filled in a camp because of a large presence of the village community. Admitting that new forms were still coming to him, he said he was to only certify the domicile of the applicant. A doctor had to certify the age.
A doctor on the three-member screening committee said: "Since it is not possible to annoy the people and to stay in the village, I sign the forms. But I do mention if the applicant is below or above 60 years of age. The people are happy with my signs." He admitted that as the age was to be certified "by appearance" only in the absence of a documentary proof, an error of judgement in borderline cases was not ruled out.
The media-coordinator of the INLD, Mr Vineet Punia, said it was the right of a political party to seek votes on the basis of good work done by it. The old-age pension scheme was one of various welfare schemes launched by Mr Devi Lal and further refurbished by Mr Chautala.
He said when the scheme was introduced by Mr Devi Lal, there were many sceptics. Two governments came after Mr Devi Lal. None could discontinue it. The scheme was there even before the elections were announced, there was no violation of the election code if the people still filled the forms.
Does filling the forms effect the voting pattern? One cannot be sure. Mr Chhabil Dass Prajapat of Lone village in the Narwana constituency, from where Mr Chautala is a candidate, says he could get pension after making efforts for seven years. Then will we vote for the INLD? "Kion baandh rakhi se (Do have I pledged my vote to the INLD)", pat came the reply.
HUDA estate a picture of
PANIPAT: The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) does not appear to be serious towards implementing its promise while advertising plots to the medium and small entrepreneurs of Sector 29 of the Industrial Estate. The units were set up more than 20 years ago.
Roads with big potholes and blocked sewerage lines have never been cleaned since they were laid, causing problems of back-flow, stagnation and water-logging. Electric poles are there without bulbs with no proper lights and no provision for other facilities like banking and dispensary. This is the present state of the area.
The Secretary-General of Urban Estate Manufacturers' Association, Mr Nem Chand Jain, complained about the apathy of the authorities concerned as there was no sewerage system, banks nor even a dispensary in this industrial estate.
While talking to this reporter, Mr Jain said that despite a provision having been made by HUDA at the time the estate was developed, no commercial bank has been opened on this estate. Except for two or three nationalised banks at Sewah, 3 km from this industrial estate, there is no bank branch or extension counter in this sector.
Mr Jain observed that during pay day and for other cash transactions, carrying of cash from Panipat to the Industrial Estate in the late hours was risky. He sought the opening of banks or at least extension counters for the safety of cash transactions made by industrialists.
Manholes are punctured to drain out choked sullage by the civil authorities. Frequent blockage of lines and overflowing of sewage water emits a foul smell and can cause epidemics. Stagnation of sullage and water-logging on roads causes inconvenience to road users.
Water is being contaminated in this sector, although big units have taken steps to reduce water pollution, Small units due to heavy expenses are in a fix and not in a position to do anything. Disposal of industrial waste and domestic water waste is also a problem because of insufficient sewer lines and waste water generally remains overflowing. Entrepreneurs are helpless to prevent flow of effluents from industrial units, which are not observing anti-pollution norms.
Mr Jain said about 250 units were in a working condition as against 300 industrial plots in this sector. Apart from these units, around 100 illegal units are functioning.
Mr Ashok Pahwa, another industrialist, complained that there was no ESI dispensary available for workers, even though a provision had been made for it while setting up the industrial estate. In case of any emergency, they are instructed by their employers to go to Civil Hospital, situated at the other end of the town.
Moreover, the entrepreneurs alleged that HUDA promised no power cuts at the time of allotment of industrial plots, but the situation is the reverse now.
Mr Jain, in a letter to Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala, requested him to intervene and to make this industrial estate a model one as promised by HUDA at the time of plot allotment.
When contacted, Mr R.K. Kakkar, Executive Engineer averred that provision for banks was not made at the time of lay out of the area, but it could now be done. A provision for a dispensary was there but as amenities are being provided in a phased manner, it would take time.
As far as the sale of plots by a private coloniser was concerned, he disclosed that a beginning had been done but a FIR under Section 4 was filed and the case was pending for further action.
According to the
Executive Engineer, two tubewells were designed and built
for the area but dyeing units arranged their own
tubewells and their discharge along with slush is
excessive. This had resulted in choking and overflow from
sewers for which plant owners should do something
BJP rebels queer pitch for
AMBALA, Feb 15 Bharatiya Janata Party rebel candidates are locked in a fierce electoral battle with the candidates of the two major political parties the BJP and Congress for the Ambala Cantonment and Ambala City Assembly seats.
While the BJP rebel and Independent candidate, Mr Anil Vij, who is seeking a second consecutive term is giving the party candidates a run for their money in Ambala Cantonment, the BJP rebel and Independent candidate, Mr Nirmal Vij, has turned the Ambala City seat into a triangular contest.
Both the BJP rebels have commonalities, including the same election symbol: that of a coconut.
In the Ambala Cantonment seat, Independent candidate Anil Vij had trounced his political opponents during the last assembly elections. However, this time, the going will not be easy for him as the BJP candidate, Dr K. D. Sharma, is leaving no stone unturned to win at the hustings. The Indian National Congress candidate, Ms Sudershna Dua, and her supporters are also trying their best to woo the electorate.
Mr Anil Vij is seeking votes on the basis of his campaign slogan "Kaam kiya hai, kaam karenge." This slogan is being touted as a one-line election manifesto by him. Dr Sharma is stating that development work would be his top priority while Ms Sudershna Dua has been stressing on her experience and administrative abilities, being the Municipal Council President.
Mr Anil Vij, talking to The Tribune, said that he had worked tirelessly after being elected as the MLA from Ambala Cantonment. "There are several achievements, including the setting up of Government College, the new bus stand and the starting of work of Netaji Subhas Chandra Park," he said.
The BJP candidate, Dr K. D. Sharma, is unfazed by the challenge and states that only he can bring about a sea change in Ambala Cantonment where development had come to a standstill. "After I am elected, I promise to start several welfare efforts to improve the civic conditions here," he said.
The BJP Ambala Cantonment spokesperson, Mr Shubhadesh Mittal, pointed out that in the last Assembly elections, Mr Anil Vij had been a BJP rebel "but this time he is no longer a BJP rebel, instead he is now just an Independent candidate. Today, the BJP in Ambala Cantonment is united and all its workers and leaders are campaigning for Dr Sharma. The party had taken up welfare projects worth Rs 10 crore through the MP Development Fund in the past four years. Dr Sharma had been devoting time as he was President of BJP Ambala Cantonment," he added.
A former MLA from Ambala Cantonment, Mr Bhagwan Das Sehgal, observed: "An Independent candidate does not have any intrinsic value in the present political system." He added, "After a person leaves a party, he loses the strength of having the support of a party behind him. We are supporting Dr Sharma based on my past experience. In 1968, I had contested on the party ticket and won but in 1982, I had contested as an Independent and lost. This clearly shows that an Independent candidate loses value," he added.
This time, BJP rebel and Independent candidate, Mr Nirmal Vij, has queered the pitch for the party candidate in the Ambala City seat, which is adjacent to Ambala Cantonment assembly segment.
Mr Nirmal Vij jumped into the electoral fray after he was denied party ticket for the second consecutive time. "Last time too, I had been promised party ticket but I was not given the ticket at the last moment. Again, this time my name had been forwarded, but I was denied the ticket. My fight is against the party's dictatorship," Mr Vij told The Tribune.
He said that he was contesting the assembly elections to highlight the party's "dictatorial" policy. "I have been President of the Municipal Council Ambala City for more than seven years and I am well aware of the problems of the people. I have worked constantly to redress the grievances of the people at the earliest," he said.
He claimed support of all sections of society. "People from all walks of life and even those from different political parties are openly supporting me. It clearly shows that I am going to beat the others at the polls," he said.
Mr Nirmal Vij, during his campaign speeches, has been promising, among other things, laying of sewer lines and updating of the drainage system, construction/repair of roads inside the city and its surrounding villages and employment generation by inviting heavy industry and encouraging small-scale industry and getting Ambala declared industrially backward area.
The Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Ambala Parliamentary Constituency, Mr Ratan Lal Kataria, said that the party had succeeded in convincing several rebel candidates to opt out of the electoral fray. "Regarding Mr Nirmal Vij, we had told him that he is young and the party will give him several opportunities in the future. I must point out that all those who have broken ranks have not succeeded in their political career," he said.
Mr Kataria stated that a decision of a person to leave the party can be termed as a "political suicide".
But the BJP rebel and
Independent candidates in Ambala City and Cantonment seat
have made the electoral battle a keen contest and it
would not be possible for the electorate of both the
assembly segments to ignore them.
Chautala claims pro-NDA wave
REWARI, Feb 15 The INLD supremo and Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala said the Congress had been wiped out in UP and Bihar and now it was its turn to be vanquished in Haryana.
Addressing a huge election rally in support of the INLD candidate Dr M.L. Ranga at Bawal last evening he said a pro-INLD-BJP wave was sweeping Haryana.
He said while distributing tickets the INLD had rejected defectors. Which was why it fielded academic, Dr M.L. Ranga from Bawal. He also promised that if the people of Bawal voted Dr Ranga he would make him a minister.
He said his government would be like the full-length film version of the trailor he had exhibited during his five-month tenure as Chief Minister.
Later, sharing the platform with noted film star Vinod Khanna, MP, at Rewari, Mr Chautala said that the BJPs Shiv Rattan Singh was his own candidate and INLD workers need not harbour any misconception on this. He asked his party activists to lend their fullest co-operation to his campaign.
Mr Vinod Khanna, in his speech, lambasted the Congress for its poor performance during its long tenure of 45 years and lauded the able stewardship of Mr Vajpayee.
Elections become hi-tech
BHATTU KALLAN (Fatehabad), Feb 15 The rural surroundings of this village may mislead you. The place looks like any other big village. But appearances can be deceptive. So they prove to be here. The villagers for the first time will use electronic voting machines (EVMs) to elect their representative.
Election officials have already made a round in all big and small villages of the constituency, explaining to the people how to use the machine. Moreover, the authorities have also issued broadsheet posters, pasted everywhere, explaining the use of the EVMs.
While the EVMs may be of great advantage to people and the election officials, the candidates have also to do an extra bit. Their speeches are no longer confined to pleadings for votes. There is a postscript to every speech. "Press the blue button at serial number ....and wait until red light appears with a beep". This is the message every candidate gives to the voters at the end, unfailingly.
candidate has prepared individual handbills pasted on
card boards, to explain to the voters where to vote and
how to vote. In the neighbouring Mandi Adampur
constituency, Mr Bhajan Lal and his rival Prof Ganeshi
Lal have also adopted the same method to educate voters
about the use of EVMs, lest they commit some error, while
casting their votes.
3 ex-ministers to contest
YAMUNANAGAR, Feb 15 Three former ministers are in the fray from Jagadhri constituency in this district.
The Congress has fielded Dr Ram Parkash who had earlier contested from Thanesar (Kurukshetra). The other former minister, Dr Om Parkash, is contesting as an Independent candidate and the third former minister, Mr Subash Choudhry, who had won the 1996 election on the HVP ticket and joined hands with Mr Om Prakash Chautala, INLD chief, two will also contest as an Independent candidate.
In Jagadhri, there are 11 candidates who are in the fray, including Mr Nand Kumar (HVP), Dr Bishan Lal Saini (BSP), Mr Ranvir Singh (Nationalist Congress Party), Mr Rameshwar Chauhan (BJP) and Mr Ishwar Chand, Mr Chander Pal, Mr Dalip Chand and Mr Bal Krishan Goel, all Independents.
As many as 118469 voters will use their franchise and 167 polling booths have been set up.
Jagadhri is likely to witness a triangular fight between the BJP, the BSP and the Congress. Party workers of the INLD are disappointed as the Jagadhri seat has gone to the BJP.
Meanwhile, the District
Magistrate, Mr Rajiv Sharma, has imposed Section 144
within a radius of 200 metres Saraswati Vidya Mandir,
Aggarsain College, MLN College, Khalsa College, and DAV
Girls College where the counting of votes will be
undertaken on February 25.
Surinder faces tough task in
TOSHAM: Congress candidate Dharamvir Singh has thrown a tough challenge to HVP nominee Surinder Singh, son of HVP chief Bansi Lal, in the Tosham Assembly constituency.
What seems to have acted as a big morale booster for Mr Dharamvir Singh is the sudden decision by Mr Bansi Lal to shift from Tosham, his traditional constituency, to Bhiwani, and if one goes by the tampo of campaigning, the Congress aspirant appears to be ahead of his HVP counterpart.
However, as some residents of Tosham town point out INLD candidate Sunil Lamba has also launched a noisy campaign even though he is not really in the "fight". The HVP support base in Tosham is fairly widespread and mobilisation of workers may not be an indication of the outcome of the poll, these residents say. "Surinder Singhs voters are his workers", says Mr Yog Lal, a farmer from one of the villages in the Tosham segment.
Interestingly, unlike some of the Haryana stalwarts, Mr Bansi Lal, who has been the Chief Minister of Haryana more than once, did not give much of a facelift to this constituency he represented in the Assembly for close to three decades.
There is no college in Tosham, except a private one, and local students have to come to Bhiwani for college education. Steps were reportedly taken for administrative upgradation of Tosham during Mr Bhajan Lals last tenure as the Chief Minister, which were quickly shot down by Mr Bansi Lal when he succeeded Mr Bhajan Lal. "Mr Bansi Lal has developed Bhiwani district, not his own constituency," said a resident.
Although, Tosham residents do not hold any grudge against Mr Bansi Lal because of his alleged neglect of the constituency, it appears that the HVP supremo would have done well had he pampered his constituency, a la Bhajan Lal style. There is no doubt that Dharamvir Singh has made deep inroads into his fortress.
In the 1991 assembly elections he got about 25,000 votes and lost to Mr Bansi Lal by about 13,000 votes. In 1996, he got more than 35,000 votes but still lost to Mr Bansi Lal by almost the same margin. However, in the last Lok Sabha poll, Dharamvir, who was the Congress candidate from Bhiwani seat, secured 35,795 votes from the Tosham segment, which was 15,000 votes more than what Surinder Singh, the HVP nominee and sitting representative, had got. At this stage it seems that Dharamvir Singh is all set to cross the 35,000 vote mark and give Surinder Singh the a run for his money. His popularity in Tosham is palpable.
Mr Dharamvir Singh is accessible. He also did a lot of work for the constituency when he was a minister, said Kalyan Singh, who runs a service station on the road connecting Tosham with Jui village. Mr Kalyan Singh, however, failed to specify the "works" done by Dharamvir Singh.
Leelu Ram, Raju Ram, Harmukh Singh, Mahabir and other villagers said that it was perhaps the fear of facing Mr Dharamvir Singh, which forced Mr Bansi Lal to shift from Tosham. Mr Bansi Lals supporters are however, of the view that once Mr Bansi Lal himself does campaigning for his son in Tosham, the scene will undergo a transformation.
INLD candidate Sunil Lamba, who is considered an "outsider", is reportedly related to Mr Bansi Lal. It is believed that INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala had deliberately chosen him to create a split among Mr Surinder Singhs votes. In the tight electoral battle fought between the Congress and the HVP, the votes pulled by the INLD nominee may turn out to be crucial, say local political observers.
Cong has edge in Nilokheri
NILOKHERI, Feb 15 For the first time Nilokheri is witnessing a contest between only five candidates, the only constituency in Haryana with such a small number of contestants in the fray.
Another marked feature of this constituency is that excepting Mr Jai Singh Rana the sitting MLA, no other candidate has been returned a second time from the seat a stronghold of Ror candidates who invariably won on the Congress ticket. This tradition was broken by Mr Jai Singh Rana, who was won on two occasions as an independent.
Mr Rana is a Rajput, who form a very small fraction of the population. But his amiable nature and standing have helped him ride out this adverse caste configuration and win each time.
But this time the ride may not be as smooth. For over the years voters have started feeling that Mr Rana has gradually distanced himself from ordinary constituents.The main contenders in the fray are Mr Jai Singh Rana, contesting on the Congress ticket, Mr Dharam Pal of the BJP-INLD combine and Mr Maan Singh Kirmach, a maha-panchayat candidate.
Mr Maan Singh was sponsored by a panchayat of elders of twelve villages to fight as an independent as voters of these areas felt neglected by successive governments.
The Ror biradari has pinned its hope on the INLD-BJP candidate, Mr Dharam Pal who belongs to their community. But a visit to the rural areas shows that Rors are not united in their support for the INLD-BJP candidate.
Mr Om Prakash Chautala
has asked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to
campaign to help woo, Sikh and Punjabi voters. Mr Jai
Singh Rana, has over the years created a strong base
amongst the Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, Punjabis,
Brahmins and his own community the Rajputs.
Bhajan looking strong in
ADAMPUR, Feb 15 Mr Ganeshi Lal, the BJP candidate from Adampur, a former Mathematics lecturer, sports a beard. A fairly thick one at that rather than a goatee.
Nevertheless, the picture he evokes in Adampur Mandi is that of a sacrificial lamb, as he takes on Congress heavyweight Bhajan Lal.
For Adampur is the pocket borough of Mr Bhajan Lal, a seat won by him or his family members continuously since 1968. Mr Bhajan Lal himself has won six times while his wife Jasma Devi and son Kuldeep Bishnoi have also contested successfully from Adampur.
In fact, it is hard to find any open supporter of the BJP in Adampur Mandi and Adampur village barring the BJP workers at the partys election office at Adampur Mandi. Mr Bhajan Lal may be a heavyweight he said, but in last Lok Sabha polls the Congress candidate from Bhiwani polled less votes than INLD nominee Ajay Chautala in the Adampur segment. He added that INLD workers, who campaigned for Mr Chautla then one fully backing Mr Ganeshi Lal now.
Unlike some other constituencies, at Adampur workers of the INLD and the BJP clearly working hand in hand Mr Ganeshi Lal. The electorate of Adampur, comprising about 1.25 lakh voters, has a large number of Jat voters. Mr Devi Lal (INLD) has already canvassed in about twelve Jat villages of the constituency for the BJP. "The response of the villagers was encouraging. I shall come to this constituency for a second round of campaigning", said the ageing Jat patriarch. The Chief Minister and INLD supremo, Mr Om Prakash Chautala is also expected to campaign in Adampur.
If the Jat do indeed vote for Mr Ganeshi Lal the BJPs contestant will have at least an outside chance.
Talking to TNS, Mr Ganeshi Lal said that the electoral battle at Adampur should not be perceived as a fight between him and Mr Bhajan Lal. "The INLD and the BJP are backing me. Devi Lalji and Mr Om Prakash Chautala are fighting the election here on behalf of me", the former Food and Supplies Minister said.
Mr Ganeshi Lal also dismissed the theory that Rambilas Sharma, his rival in the BJP, was responsible for steering him away from Sirsa the seat he represented in the dissolved assembly and putting him against Mr Bhajan Lal instead. "The party has chosen me to challenge Mr Bhajan Lal at Sirsa also I had defeated Laxmandas Arora who was considered invincible", he said. Factionalism within the Congress and possible sabotage by Ms Selja and others will affect Mr Bhajan Lals performance, he said.
However, while his Bishnoi community, is particularly "indebted" to him because of jobs and other benefits received by them during his stints as Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal has sizeable support among the Jats as well. In the last Assembly election Surinder Singh, who played the Jat card to the hilt, and was aided by a pro-HVP wave, lost to Mr Bhajan Lal by twenty thousand votes here.
Jat villages such as
Panihar Chak, Modakhera, Dhiranwas, which are considered
Mr Bhajan Lals stronghold, look badly in the need
of a facelift. But the villagers say that this was not
the case when Mr Bhajan Lal was Chief Minister.
HVP's support to Vij
AMBALA, Feb 15 Workers of the Haryana Vikas Party have launched a campaign in the Ambala Cantonment assembly constituency in favour of an Independent candidate, Mr Anil Vij.
In a statement issued here today, Mr Om Parkash Sharma and Mr Ajay Gulati, leaders of the Ambala cantonment unit of the party, claimed that the HVP chief, Mr Bansi Lal, had extended support to Mr Vij. They said that as Chief Minister Mr Bansi Lal had okayed all development plans proposed by Mr Vij for the cantonment area.
KURUKSHETRA, Feb 15 Tension gripped the town when a class seven student, Harsh (13), of Shri Aggarsain Public School was allegedly abducted at about 8 a.m. from the Aggarsain chowk, here today. He was on his way to the school.
He was abducted by some persons and pushed into a parked car. The school is at walking distance from the Aggarsain chowk.
Mrs P. Singh, Principal of the school, said students accompanying Harsh, informed that one of them whose face they could not see, had been abducted by two persons in a white Maruti ( without number plate). She asked her staff to mark the roll-call of the students and submit the absentees list to the office. Parents of students absent from the school were contacted on telephone. Out of them only Harshs father Dr Sobti said his son had gone to the school. Harsh was wearing his school uniform when he was abducted, she added.
The district police chief, Mr Des Raj Singh, said Harsh was abducted by two persons in a white Maruti car and a case had been registered under Sections 364 and 34 of the IPC.
3 killed as bus falls into
KAITHAL, Feb 15 Three persons were killed and 21 were injured in a road accident near Jatheri village last evening.
The accident occurred when a private bus overturned and fell into a ditch. The bus was going from Pundri to Rajound.
The injured were admitted to Civil Hospital, Kaithal. The Deputy Commissioner Dr Mahavir Singh, Mr Narinder Singh, SDM, and Amir Singh, DSP, visited the injured in the hospital.
Those killed have been
identified as Ram Chander (50) and Subhash (24),
residents of Pai and Hari Singh of Mund village. The
police has registered a case against the bus driver. The
bus was reportedly overloaded.
Quota demanded on economic
SONEPAT, Feb 15 Swami Krishanand Ji Maharaj, President All India Hindu MahaSangh, today urged the Central Government to make constitutional amendments to give reservation to the poor.
In a signed press statement issued here, the Swami said reservation in government jobs should be based on the economic status.
Promise to hike
5 Cong rebels
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