Friday, February 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu (right) and Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala hold the hands of candidate Nafe Singh during campaigning for the Bahadurgarh seat on Thursday
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu (right)
and Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala hold
the hands of candidate Nafe Singh during campaigning
for the Bahadurgarh seat on Thursday. — Photo by
Sondeep Shankar

Hooda: Cong to probe Chautala’s misdeeds
ROHTAK, Feb 16 — HPCC President Bhupinder Singh Hooda has declared that if voted to power, the Congress Government would order a probe into all "misdeeds" and "bunglings" during the five-month rule of the Chautala Government.




DGP's suit against ex-CM dismissed
CHANDIGARH, Feb 17 — Haryana Director General of Police K. Nirmal Singh's suit against former Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala, the then Home Minister Sampat Singh and other defendants, seeking the recovery of Rs 27 lakh as damages for alleged mental torture and harassment, was dismissed by the UT Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mr Mahender Singh.

Cash-starved MDU spending lavishly?
ROHTAK, Feb 17 — While Maharshi Dayanand University is facing a financial crisis, the university administration is reportedly spending money "lavishly" on inaugurations and for purchasing furniture for the VIP guest house.

A carriageway or death-trap
PANIPAT: The Northern Railway has failed to provide a proper carriageway at the end of platform No 1 for platform Nos 2, 3, 4 and 5. It may be recalled that work was resumed in December, 1999, for the completion of platform No. 1 the height of which was raised and length increased. As the railway contractor dismantled construction at a certain point for his own requirement, the particular point has become a virtual death-trap for commuters.


Hooda: Cong to probe Chautala’s misdeeds

ROHTAK, Feb 16 (PTI) — HPCC President Bhupinder Singh Hooda has declared that if voted to power, the Congress Government would order a probe into all "misdeeds" and "bunglings" during the five-month rule of the Chautala Government.

Addressing a series of election meetings at various villages of the district yesterday, Mr Hooda said that Mr Pratap Singh, real brother of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, had lodged a complaint with the Dabwali police against the Chief Minister for allegedly amassing unaccountable wealth through corruption. He said his party if voted to power would order a probe based on the complaint.

He said the police had not taken any action as Mr Chautala had been in power.

The Congress leader claimed that the complaint of "irregularities" and "scam" into purchase of paddy and cotton, and sprinkler sets by the state government had been hanging fire for about three months. Allegations regarding making of crores of rupees by some influential persons in several such deals during the Chautala regime had been reported.

Alleging that the Chief Minister himself had been masterminding all such deals, he said the finger of suspicion pointed towards Mr Chautala himself, who had become a "synonym of corruption" in the state. Only a thorough probe could expose the real culprits who would not be spared.

Dubbing the BJP as an "anti-people" outfit, the state Congress president alleged that the BJP Government at the Centre was contemplating the withdrawal of subsidies on cooking gas and fertilisers after having hiked the prices of diesel. He apprehended a sharp rise in the prices of essential commodities.

Referring to the "frequent change of stances" by the state BJP Mr Hooda said this party had become synonymous with opportunism.

Meanwhile, in a letter sent to the Election Commission, Mr Hooda expressed concern over the Haryana Government decision to deploy Punjab Police commandos on election duty. Mr Hooda apprehended that Punjab Police commandos might be used to rig the poll.

Warning the erring officials of strict action, Mr Hooda said the party observers would keep an eye on them. Upright officers would not be sidelined if the Congress came to power, the HPCC chief asserted.Top


Congress ahead in Sohna
From Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

SOHNA, Feb 17 — Although there is a three-cornered contest in the Sohna assembly segment,the Congress appears to have an edge.

There are nine candidates in the fray. The contest appears to be between the Vice-Chairman of Zila Parishad (Gurgaon) and INLD nominee, Mr Madan Lal Gujjar,the former minister and Vice-President of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), Rao Dharam Pal, contesting on the Congress ticket and Mr Sukhvir Singh Jaunapuria (Independent). The candidates in the fray include Mr Ram Chander Yadav (BSP), Mr Raj Kumar (HVP) and the Chairman of the Zilla Parishad, Rao Sri Kishan (Independent).

Sohna assembly segment is dominated by Ahirs, constituting about 33,000 of the 1,27,774 votes followed by the Gujjars around 24,000 in number. Thakurs around 12,000 with equal number of Jats and about 16,000 Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes.

The ruling INLD attaches a lot of importance to the seat. Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala has visited the area twice in around two weeks to canvass for his party nominee. During his second visit the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah accompanied him. Mr Madan Lal Gujjar is contesting an assembly election for the first time.

According to observers, although the BJP cadre is earnestly working in favour of Mr Gujjar, he is finding the going tough against the Congress nominee, who won from this seat in the 1987 assembly elections. Significantly that election marked the culmination of the famous "Nyay Yudh" movement of Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal in Haryana in which his Lok Dal swept to power bagging a record number of 87 of the 90 assembly seats. Later, Rao Dharampal joined the Congress and contested as its nominee in 1991 won and went on to become one of the most powerful minister in the government of Mr Bhajan Lal. However, he lost to Rao Narbir Singh of the HVP in the 1996 assembly elections. Although he lost, he is said to have retained his contact with the people of the area.

The problem for Madan Lal Gujjar is accentuated on account of Mr Sukhvir Singh Jaunapuria a fellow Gujjar, throwing his hat in the ring as an Independent. Significantly, Mr Jaunapuria,who is contesting for the first time,was an aspirant for the INLD ticket and is considered a prominent leader of the Gujjar community. The threat by Mr Om Prakash Chautala to Mr Jaunapuria during his last election related public meeting here of punitive action is reflective of panic in the INLD.

The Congress nominee, by contrast appears to be on a firm footing. and appears to be finding acceptability among his Ahir community. Fortunately for the Congress there is no prominent Ahir leader in the fray to cut into his support base in the community. Even if there is polarisation of the Gujjar votes in favour of either the INLD nominee or Mr Jaunapuria, there is every possibility of consolidation of the Ahir votes in Rao Dharampal’s favour as in the past Gujjars and Ahirs have voted for opposing candidate, due to traditional rivalry between the two communities.

However, Rao Sri Kishan, who was also an aspirant for the Congress ticket, is expected to cut into the votes of Rao Dharam Pal.

The Congress is now working on a strategy to make a dent in Jat votes on which the INLD is banking. With the Thakurs seem to be divided between the Congress and the INLD, the Congress arranged a tour programme of the senior party leader, Mr Arjun Singh yesterday to enlist the support of the community. The party has also pressed into service a prominent Ahir leader and general secretary of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee,Mr Brahm Yadav, to campaign in the Ahirwal belt of the state,including Sohna.

Also, while his opponents are new faces, Rao Dharampal can delay claim to development works like setting up of a number of schools and jobs to youths of the area when he was the minister.

The HVP, Rao Narbir Singh, won this seat in the last elections but defected from the HVP along with other party MLAs bringing down the Bansi Lal government. For reasons best known to him, he is now contesting as a BSP nominee from neighbouring Gurgaon.

The BSP has fielded Ram Chander Yadav, a relative of Rao Dharam Pal and is vying with the Congress for the backward classes and Scheduled Caste votes. But is spending most of its time countering allegations that it is "sponsored" by vested interests against Rao Dharampal.Top


Quiet burial to ‘free power’ in Haryana
By Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 17 — All major political parties in the Haryana poll arena have given a quiet burial to the issue of free power after arousing the electorate’s expectation skyhigh during the run-up to the elections.

The ruling Indian National Lok Dal takes the cake in reversing its stand on the issue, with the Congress not far behind in the "betrayal".

The INLD (and its earlier incarnations) have been promising free power to tubewells since the 1990 elections. It had taken a cue from the Akali Dal. The Congress did not promise free power in 1996. However, when Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda became the President of the Haryana Congress, he repeatedly said that the party would provide free power to farmers if it came to power.

The HVP never talked about free power but it promised round-the-clock power supply. The BJP remained silent over the issue of free power but it did promise that power tariff on the tubewells would be levied on the pattern of canal water (abiana).

The INLD changed tracks the moment its supremo, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, became the Chief Minister after the fall of the HVP Government. Realising that the state was in no position to provide free power and learning a lesson from Punjab, with the economy of which free power had played a havoc, the INLD started talking of "adequate and quality power", which it now promises in its 2000 Assembly elections manifesto. It no longer talks about free power.

When it became known that the Punjab leadership was having second thoughts about free power, Mr Hooda too changed his stand. From "free power", he started talking about supply of power to the tubewells on the "Punjab pattern". His argument was that since the working conditions for the farmers in Punjab and Haryana were alike, they should get similar facilities.

The Congress manifesto talks of "uninterrupted power supply" but no free power. However, it condemns the INLD for not fulfilling its promise of free power. Unmindful of what the manifesto contains or does not contain, certain Congress leaders still say in their election speeches that free power would be given to those households which have one electric point.

How have the voters reacted to this "betrayal"? The response varies from region to region. In relatively prosperous areas along the G.T. Road like Ambala, Kurukshetra and Karnal, free power is not much of an issue as is the case in Sirsa district. Ram Lal of Thambbar village in the Mullana constituency said in his belt the people remembered Mr Bansi Lal for power. The tariff was reduced from Rs 65 per horse power to Rs 35 (slab system was introduced in the entire state, after it was withdrawn from parts of the state, leading to widespread protest by farmers).

He said the villagers wanted adequate power to run their tubewells timely.

Free power is certainly an issue in Jind belt and parts of Bhiwani and Mahendragarh districts, where several farmers have not paid electricity bills for years. Several households have run up bills amounting to Rs 1 lakh.

Farmers in these areas seem to have realised that they had been taken for a ride by various parties. Many have started paying their bills. But in those cases where the amount is abnormally large, farmers say they would have to either sell part of their land or mortgage it to raise money.

There is resentment among farmers in certain pockets of Bhiwani and Mahendragarh districts against the INLD. They say first the INLD men instigated us not to pay the electricity bills as these would be written off once the party was in power. Now the party, they say, has dropped the issue like a hot brick.

Interestingly, the Congress manifesto promises to double widow pension to Rs 200 a month without realising that the INLD Government has already done it.Top


CM asked to spell out stand on RSS
From Our Correspondent

FATEHABAD, Feb 17 — The All-India Democratic Woman Association’s national general secretary Mrs Brinda Karat has asked Haryana Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala to spell out his stand on the issue of allowing state government employees to become members of the Rashtriya Swyamsewak Sangh. She was here to address a poll rally.

Former Union Minister and MP Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and a former Rajasthan MP, Mr Sheopat Singh, the CPM state secretary Mr Inderjeet, a member of the state secretariat of the CPM Prithvi Singh Gorakhpuria and the AIDWA state secretary Mrs Jagmati San were also at the rally here today in support of the CPM candidate from the Fatehabad Assembly segment Mr Krishan Swaroop.

Mrs Karat said the Prime Minister himself has given clean chit to the RSS, which, she alleged, was not only responsible for the murder of the Father of the Nation but many riots in the country in the past. She alleged that the RSS was not committed to the Constitution and its workers wee committed to the formation of a Hindi nation. She said as Chief Minister Chautala has entered into an alliance with the BJP and workers of the RSS are working for him victory Mr Chautala would not be able to antagonise them if he came to power.

Mrs Karat said that though the BJP had proved itself the biggest enemy of the small farmers, Mr Chautala preferred to enter into an alliance with it to regain power.

She said while the countries like the USA and France gave subsidies to their farmers, the BJP government had completely withdrawn subsidies to the agriculture sector under a well planned conspiracy to ruin small farmers. On the other hand it had exempted 714 items based on agriculture from import duty. The small farmers, she warned would be forced to sell their land holdings to the multinationals.

Former Union Minister and a Rajya Sabha member Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia criticised Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for misguiding the Sikhs of Haryana for his own personal gains. He alleged that Mr Badal was in the habit of using Sikhs settled in the neighbouring states to drive political mileage for himself and his family members. He called upon the Sikhs in Haryana to establish their own identity rather than blindly following the SAD.Top


PM: statute panel no affront to Ambedkar
From D.N. Chaturvedi
Tribune News Service

BALLABHGARH, Feb 17 — Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, today strongly defended the setting up of the Constitution review commission.

Addressing an election meeting in Ballabhgarh in support of the BJP-INLD candidates for the coming assembly poll from Faridabad district Mr Vajapyee said the commission was meant to suggest mainly electoral reforms.This would help in minimising the money power in the elections and provide equal opportunities to even the have nots.

The commission was not designed to serve the interests of any political party.

Mr Vajpayee made it clear that the review commission was not an affront to Dr B.R. Ambedkar who was one of the esteemed founders of the Constitution.

He said the report of the commission would be placed before Parliament. If approved an amendment to the Constitution would be made.

He appealed to the people to vote for the BJP-INLD candidates so that political stability could be provided in Haryana. An honest government in Haryana was the need of the hour to eliminate the politics of defection which had brought bad name to the state.

Mr Vajpayee said the economic reforms initiated by the government had started bringing good results. He wanted industrialists to produce quality goods so that India could compete in the international market.

He sought the cooperation of the people in ending the menace of corruption.

Mr Vajpayee was confident that the National Democratic Alliance would be victorious in Bihar, Orissa and Haryana.

He also introduced the candidates of the BJP-INLD alliance contesting from Faridabad district and called upon people to vote for them.

Earlier, Mr Devi Lal, former Deputy Prime Minister appealed to the voters to support the alliance nominees.Top


Dara Singh seeks reservation for Jats

SONEPAT, Feb 17 (PTI) — Wrestler-turned-film star Dara Singh described those who staged demonstrations against Deepa Mehta’s film ‘Water’ in Varanasi as a ‘mafia’ and said they were creating misunderstanding in the minds of people against the movie.

If the shooting of the film was not allowed by the government, it would create a bad precedent, Dara Singh, who played the role of ‘Hanuman’ in Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayan’, told reporters here yesterday.

Urging the Maharashtra Government to intervene he said vested interests were opposing its shooting.

He also expressed grave concern over frequent assaults on the film fraternity "which has created panic in Bollywood."

He also criticised obscenity in films. Singh, who is the president of the All-India Jat Mahasabha, said that he was in favour of reservation for the Jats in Haryana and demanded immediate implementation of the Gurnam Singh Committee recommendations in this regard.

He defended the alliance between the INLD and the BJP in the assembly elections of Haryana and said that the alliance could provide a stable and fair government in the state

Later, he addressed election meetings in Kailana and Rai Assembly segments in favour of the INLD-BJP alliance candidates.Top


INLD anti-farmer, says Sajjan
From Our Correspondent

ROHTAK, Feb 17 — Former Lok Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar has termed the Indian National Lok Dal-BJP alliance, as anti-farmer and anti-poor. He asked voters to ignore the ‘false’ promises of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and the BJP.

Addressing election meetings in support of Congress candidates in Kiloi and Hassangarh constituencies today, Mr Sajjan Kumar said that reports that the NDA alliance government of by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee had been contemplating imposing taxes on farmers were proof of its ‘anti-farmer’ policies.

Claiming that the crops of farmers had been adversely affected by power shortages in the past months, he said non-procurement of paddy and cotton crops in various parts of the state had led to a ‘major disaster’.

He sought a ‘probe’ into the matter.Top


Rajesh Khanna campaigns for Congress
Tribune News Service

HISAR, Feb 17 — Former Bollywood actor and senior Congress leader Rajesh Khanna today appealed to voters to vote in the Congress for a stable, clean and development-oriented government.

Addressing a well attended public meeting at Multani Chowk, in support of the Congress candidate from here Mr Om Prakash Jindal, Mr Khanna termed him as the most suitable candidate. He said, Mr Jindal had not joined politics for amassing wealth, but serving the people.

Mr Khanna was late by about three hours. However, the crowd kept on waiting to listen to the superstar. His was an entertaining speech duly acknowledged by the people with cheers.

The filmstar promised that he would return to them again to express gratitude after they elect Mr Jindal.

Mr Jindal staged the rally in an area considered a citadel of Mr Om Prakash Mahajan, his main rival.

Mr Jindal expressed his gratitude to the people.Top


Observers review arrangements
From Our Correspondent

SIRSA, Feb 17 — The Election Commission has appointed Mr K.K. Pandey, Mr Sanjay Kumar Srivastava and Mr Rajeev Ranjan as election observers for Sirsa and Fatehabad districts and after reaching here yesterday, they had a meeting with Returning Officers, Assistant Returning Officers and police officials at local PWD rest house in which the arrangements made by the district administration for conducting free and fair poll were reviewed. They expressed their satisfaction over the arrangements.

The District Electoral Officer, Mr Amit Jha, informed that there was not even a single candidate with criminal background from any political party in all the five assembly segments of Sirsa district. As many as 52 candidates, he said were trying their luck in the district.

He informed about the steps being taken by the administration to ensure fair elections and for maintaining law and order. He said the model code of conduct was being enforced in true spirit and the expenditure borne by all the candidates on electioneering was regularly monitored. The candidates were sending their expenditure statements on every third day to the district election office. As a precautionary measure, the movement of general public and vehicular traffic had been restricted, he added.

The SSP, Mr K.K. Mishra, revealed that 43 ‘nakas’ would be set up at serious places in the district to check the movement of vehicles and anti-social elements on the polling day.Top


'No decision' yet on suspending Samjhauta Express

YAMUNANAGAR, Feb 17 (PTI) — Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan said yesterday that the Centre had not yet taken any decision to suspend Samjhauta Express.

Talking to PTI at Deodhar, about 35 km from here, last evening, Mr Mahajan, who is on a tour of Haryana to campaign for BJP-INLD candidates, said that the train was being misused by Pakistan-based subversive elements, including the ISI, for pushing in fake currency.

He said the action of Pak-based elements would deteriorate relation between India and Pakistan, which is encouraging terrorism in India. After the coming to power of Army chief Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, militant activities had increased in India, he added.

Mr Mahajan said India was ready to hold talks with Pakistan on the return of Pak occupied Kashmir (POK), which constitutes about one third of Kashmir.

He said India's image abroad during the tenure of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister had improved and this was also reflected in the fact that US President Bill Clinton was paying a five-day visit to India.

Referring to Haryana, Mr Mahajan said that INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala would be the next Chief Minister. The BJP-INLD alliance would get a two thirds majority, he claimed.

Mr Mahajan said that MLAs of Bihar would decide on the next Chief Minister. Top


INLD-BJP will get majority: Mahajan
From Our Correspondent

YAMUNANAGAR, Feb 17 — Senior BJP leader Parmod Mahajan, has justified the Election Commission’s move to introduce identity verification for the assembly elections in Haryana.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister, while addressing an election rally at Devdhar village, about 35 km from here, yesterday said that the INLD-BJP combine would get two thirds majority in Haryana. He said he had extensively toured Haryana, Bihar and Orissa and there was wave in favour of the BJP and its allies.

Mr Mahajan said, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, would be the next Chief Minister of Haryana. He said Mr Chautala was the undisputed leader of the masses. He exhorted people to vote for the BJP-INLD candidates. Talking about the large-scale violence in the first phase of the Bihar elections he said the Central Government had provided adequate forces to the Bihar Government. It was for the state government to ensure law and order with the help of paramilitary forces.

Mr Mahajan said the Centre had no intention to impose Chief Ministers on Bihar and Orissa. "The elected legislators there will decide who the Chief Minister will be", he added.Top


More organisations back Anil Vij
From Our Correspondent

AMBALA, Feb 17 — Several social and religious organisations today announced their support in favour of Mr Anil Vij, an Independent candidate contesting from Ambala Cantonment. The HVP, Rashtriya Lok Dal and third front have already announced their support to Mr Vij.

In a press note, Mr Vij has claimed that 22 gurdwaras, the Nishkam Sewa Dal, Saralia Vaishy Sabha, Uttarakhand Sabha, Balmiki Samaj, Khateek Samaj, Jaswar Rajpoot Sabha, Bhatra Biradri, Bar Association, Ambala Cantt, Military Farm Workers Union, Ambala Electric Works Association, Staff Road Traders Association, Plastic Association, Aggarsen Nagar Association, Durga Nagar Welfare Association and Garhwal Sabha have offered him their support.Some local leaders of the BJP and Congress, including Mr Shakti Dhawan, Mr Ramesh Chaudhry, Mr Babu Kannojia and Mr Banti Sharma have also decided to support Mr Vij. Top


BJP rallies in favour of rebel
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

HANSI (Hisar), Feb 17 — The fissures in the Indian National Lok Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party alliance have started deepening, with the BJP workers joining hands with rebel candidates against the official alliance candidates. This is reportedly being done with the approval from the party high command. While earlier it was only INLD workers, who were supporting rebels against BJP candidates at places like Jind, Hisar, Narnaund and Bawani Khera, it appears to be the BJP’s turn now.

Apparently upset by indifference and opposition from INLD supporters towards their candidates BJP leaders and workers have now come out openly in support of Mr P.K. Chaudhary, a senior BJP leader and former legislator who is contesting as an Independent, against the official alliance candidate Subash Goel of the INLD.

Hundreds of BJP workers carrying party flags took out a massive procession here in support of Mr Chaudhary. The processionists included members of the state working committee of the BJP, Mr Jagdish Bhatia, Mr Kamal Gupta, Mr Pradeep Sharma, local unit president Mr Rajbir Singh, vice-president of the Yuva Morcha, Mr Prem Verma and state vice-president of the BJP’s trader cell Mr Jagan Nath Miglani.

BJP sources claimed, party workers had already clarified to the high command the INLD’s tacit and open support to rebel candidates against the official alliance candidates at several seats including Hisar, Bawani Khera, Narnaund and Jind. One senior leader of the party, reportedly appreciated the concern of the local BJP workers during his recent visit but advised restraint.

Recently a senior central BJP leader admitted in private that the INLD was not sincere about support to the BJP’s candidates. However, he hoped, voters would understand and the betrayal punished. He cited a similar case in Gujarat, where the BJP’s alliance partner, Mr Chimanbhai Patel adopted the same strategy but had to bite the dust.

The BJP leaders alleged that the expulsion of ‘rebel’ candidate, Mr Gulshan Bharadwaj from the INLD was an "eyewash" and he was the "official INLD" candidate. He is fighting on the INLD symbol of spectacles.

In Hisar, although the Chief Minister and INLD supremo addressed an election rally in support of the BJP candidate, Dr Kamal Gupta, he left many things unsaid. Thus while he sought votes for Dr Kamal Gupta, saying "he alone is my candidate and vote for him", he was silent on Mr Om Prakash Mahajan, who has been claiming the blessings of Mr Chautala. This ‘silence’ left BJP workers dissatisfied. The Chief Minister had even skipped Hisar twice, and finally had to address a rally here only because he had spoken in the adjoining Ghirai and Bhattu Kalan constituencies.

Mr Chautala is silent about Narnaund, where the INLD workers are campaigning for Prof Ram Bhagat Sharma, an Independent against Mr Ram Kumar Gautam of the BJP. The open defiance by BJP workers is part of the party’s pressure tactics to ensure INLD support for its candidates.Top


Close contest in Hisar
Tribune News Service

HISAR, Feb 17 — If the previous assembly elections are an indication, the six assembly constituencies of Hisar district have always yielded mixed results, with no single party having a decisive edge over the others. This trend appears likely to continue this time also. In most constituencies the picture is too hazy to warrant a forecast.

Except for Mandi Adampur, the contest is going to be multi-cornered everywhere. In Adampur it will be a direct fight between Mr Bhajan Lal of the Congress and Prof Ganeshi Lal of the INLD-BJP alliance.

In Mandi Adampur, the contest is one-sided with former Chief Minister and Congress veteran Mr Bhajan Lal set to retain the seat, despite a well-organised campaign by Prof Ganeshi Lal, and INLD cadres being completely behind him.

In the Hisar segment the situation is complex, with Mr OP Jindal contesting on the Congress ticket, Dr Kamal Gupta the alliance candidate and two influential Independents, Mr Om Prakash Mahajan and Mr Hari Singh Saini also in the fray. Except for Dr Kamal Gupta all the others have represented Hisar at one time or the other.

Mr Jindal, represented Hisar from 1991 to1996 as an HVP candidate has made an impact again with his intensive campaigning.

But he is flowing against the tide as the Congress has continuously faced defeat from here for the past 28 years. He also faces a tough challenge from party rebel and former minister Mr Hari Singh Saini, who is going to the people with the plea that he has betrayed by the party.

The sitting legislator Om Prakash Mahajan, who defeated Mr Saini in 1996, is not in a much better position either as his support base, mainly among Punjabis, is being cut into by Mr Saini and two of his erstwhile lieutenants Dr Ved Prakash Mehta and Yeg Dut Setia. Dr Kamal Gupta, the alliance candidate, is also plagued by ambiguity on the INLD support to him, as Mr Mahajan has been claiming that he enjoys Mr Chautala’s blessings.

In Barwala, the contest appears to be shaping up between the Congress candidate Mr Jai Prakash and the alliance candidate Ms Promila Barwala. An Independent candidate Dr Anant Ram, is also in the running. Dr Ram was denied the HVP ticket, which was allotted to the HVP district president Mr Ravi Lamba.

Mr Jaia Prakash was a reluctant contestant to begin with as he wanted to contest from Jind. However, he is fighting it with all his might now. Ms Barwala, the wife of Hisar MP Mr Surinder Singh Barwala is not lagging behind either. One plus for Ms Barwala is that the sitting MLA, Mr Relu Ram Punia decided not to contest this time. He won from here in1996 as an Independent.

Ghirai is also going to be a keenly contested constituency between the ‘giant killer’ Prof Chhaterpaul of the Congress and Mr Puran Singh Dabra of the INLD. Mr Kanwal Singh of the HVP, who represented Ghiari in the dissolved house, is also in the fight.

However, ultimately it may shape up into a straight contest between Mr Chhaterpaul and Mr Dabra. Mr Chhaterpaul shot into prominence after defeating Mr Devi Lal in 1991, from here. He lost to Mr Kanwal Singh in 1996 by a slim margin of a few hundred votes. He is banking upon the "achievements of the government".

Hansi is again complex with both the INLD-BJP alliance and the Congress facing rebel candidates. Mr Subash Goyal is the alliance candidate, while the Congress has fielded Mr Vinod Bayana. Mr Amin Chand Makar, a senior Congress leader and Mr PK Chaudhary a senior BJP leader are contesting as Independents.

The wedge between the BJP and INLD has become public here, with the former openly supporting of Mr Chaudhary. The BJP has issued show-cause notices to some office bearers for defying the alliance, by coming out in support of Mr Chaudhary.

In Narnaund, it is a triangular fight between the Congress candidate Mr Virender Singh, Mr Ram Kumar Gautam of the BJP and Prof Ram Bhagat Sharma an Independent. The open support of INLD workers for Prof Sharma, may make things simple for Mr Virender Singh. However, all the three candidates have their respective pockets of influence.Top


Yamunanagar voters still undecided
From Ashwani Dutta

YAMUNANAGAR, Feb 17 — Voters of Yamunanagar appear undecided with no clear wave in favour of any candidate. But most voters are annoyed with the incumbent Dr Kamla Verma, who is contesting on the INLD-BJP ticket.

Dr Verma who is contesting for the sixth time, won on three occasions, in 1977, in 1987 when she was the joint candidate of the Lok Dal and BJP and in 1996 when the BJP entered into an alliance with the HVP.

The general feeling here is that no politician has done much for the area and Yamunanagar has not produced any political heavyweight.

The Yamunanagar Assembly segment is primarily urban and is the largest constituency in terms of voters. Of the 146317 voters, 7386 are Jats, 5379 Rajputs, 1040 Gujjars, 21,127 Brahmins, 8399 Mahajan Banias, 3099 Sainis, 25841 Arora/ Khatris, 6773 Sikhs, 16019 Muslims, 12,191 Harijans and 2971 Balmikis.

Ten candidates are in the fray including Dr Kamla Verma of the BJP-INLD, Dr Jai Parkash Sharma of the Congress , Dr Joginder Pal Saini of the Janata Dal (Secular), Mr Pawan Kumar Dhiman of the Nationalist Congress Party, Mr Randhir Singh of the BSP, Mr Sahib Singh — HVP, Mr Ram Dinker Das — Samajwadi Party and Ashok Kumar Sharma, Gorakh Nath Bhardwaj and Satpal Mehta — all Independent.

The Congress denied the ticket to Rajesh Sharma, son of Pandit Bhagwat Dyal Sharma, the first Chief Minister of Haryana, who had won twice on the party ticket in 1982 and 1991. This has led to some discontentment in Congress cadres. But the party nominee Dr Jai Parkash Sharma, a well-known doctor, has a good reputation and is hoping to cash in on the anti-Kamla Verma sentiment. He enjoys wide support among Brahmin, Khatri, Muslim and Sikhs voters.

Mr Randhir Singh of the BSP who runs a school here, has pockets of influence among Jat Sikh, Harijan and Saini voters. He also claims the support of the youth. Mr Sahib Singh, an advocate who is in the fray on the HVP ticket, wields a lot of influence in rural areas and is working hard in urban segments.

Mr Ashok Sharma, a BJP rebel is banking on anti-Kamla Verma votes among traditional BJP supporters. He was general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Haryana. Voting may be down substantially because of voter disinterest and no clear frontrunners.Top


It’s Cong vs INLD in Pataudi
From Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

PATAUDI: Pataudi, the reserved assembly constituency in Gurgaon district, is heading towards a direct contest between the Congress and the INLD-BJP combine.

Although there are at least 12 candidates in the fray, including the former minister, Mr Narain Singh of the HVP, Ms Suman Lata of the Samajwadi Party and Mr Om Prakash Puniya of the BSP, the former minister and former bureaucrat, Dr Kripa Ram Puniya of the Congress and Mr Ramvir Singh of the INLD are engaged in seesaw battle of the ballot.

The Congress circles,which were reportedly on low key during the initial phase of campaigning, are buoyed up with all factions closing ranks in favour of the party heavy-weight, Dr Puniya. The former Chief Minister and one of tallest leader of Ahirwal belt, Rao Birender Singh and his son Rao Inderjit Singh have extended their support to Dr Puniya giving a boost to his campaign. Also, another influential leader of Ahirwal belt and former Union Minister, Col Ram Singh as well as a prominent leader of the area and member of the Zila Parishad (Gurgaon), Rao Balkishan have extended their support to him. This was said to be one of the rare occasion when all powerful Ahir leaders of the area have chose to remain on the same side of the political divide. Besides, influential leaders of the Rajput community have also extended their support to him. Incidentally, Pataudi is considered to be the bastion of Rao Birender Singh. His support is crucial for any one contesting from this constituency.

Although Patuadi is a reserved constituency, it has more than 45 thousand of Ahir votes out of 1,35,000 total votes in it. The Backward Classes and the Scheduled Castes constitute about 7,00,000 of the votes. The Rajputs constitute 12,000 with about equal number of Jats.

The calculation in the Congress camp is that with the division in the Backward Class and Scheduled Castes votes, the Ahir votes would tilt the scale in its favour. The history of the voting pattern has it that the Jats, being in minority to the dominating Ahir community, toe a diametrically opposite line to it during the elections.

The Congress camp say that the Opposition had nothing to criticise about Dr Puniya, except for the fact that he was an outsider to the constituency. Dr Puniya counters this in all his public meetings by stressing that he hails from Sahlawas, which is also a part of the Ahirwal belt.

What seems to be standing in good stead for the Congress nominee is his about 25 years stint as an IAS officer, starting from his posting as SDM, Mahendragarh, to the post of Commissioner and Director of various departments after which he sought a voluntary retirement and joined politics to contest successfully for the first time in 1987 from Baroda in the Devi Lal and Lok Dal bandwagon. During his stint as administrator he claims to have helped in getting employment to large number of youths and served the people of the area. Former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Devi Lal had once projected him as the President of India. However, he soon had to quit the Lok Dal and part company with Mr Devi Lal on account of his differences with his son and present Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in the wake of the poll related violence in Meham. The Congress poll managers are now reviving the old story to drill into the Scheduled Castes and the Backward Classes that "one of them, Dr Puniya" was wronged and a golden opportunity for the Dalits of Haryana to be projected at the national level was denied.

The Congress nominee received a shot in the arm with Mr Mahavir Singh, an Independent, withdrawing from the contest in favour of him, a few days ago.

On the other side,the INLD has launched a high profile campaign to counter the Congress. Former wrestler and cine star, Dara Singh, toured the area on Wednesday to give boost to its nominee. Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala addressed a public meeting in Pataudi and his son, Mr Ajay Singh spent a day in the constituency. Mr Chautala, in about five months of his INLD government, has shown deference to the sentiments of the people of the Ahirwal belt. For example he appointed two Chairmen, of the Haryana Subordinate Service Selection Board and of the Haryana Tourism and had appointed Mr Ajit Singh Bhatotia as the Director-General of the state police. The INLD circles are optimistic of the support of the Ahir community. According to them the prominent leaders supporting the Congress nominee were spent forces. They further say that Mr Ramvir Singh was comparatively younger and the youths would side with him.

Mr Ramvir Singh had unsuccessfully contested on INLD ticket in the last assembly election. He had sought retirement from the post of secretary of the local market committee to join politics.

Mr Narain Singh, who represented Pataudi in the last Assembly, is again in the fray as HVP nominee. According to observers, there is large scale resentment against him for allegedly ignoring the constituency as a minister in the Bansi Lal government. The BSP nominee, who happens to be a relative of the Congress nominee, is depending on the party’s banner for Scheduled Castes votes.Top


Prestige issue for Chautala
REWARI: Bawal which is a reserved constituency of Rewari district has virtually become a seat of prestige for INLD supremo and Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala. The INLD has fielded Dr M.L. Rang, a former Vice-Chancellor of Kurukshetra University as its candidate. He is facing a tough challenge from his Congress rival, Mrs Shakuntala Bhagwaria who is a heroine of three electoral battles from Bawal. The constituency mainly comprises the Jat belt and the Ahir belt. The Jat belt which has over 20000 Jat votes is under the influence of Mr Devi Lal and his Chief Minister Son O.P. Chautala. — (FOC)

80 booths ‘sensitive’ in Panipat
The district administration will beef up the security at 80 sensitive and 93 hypersensitive polling booths which it has identified for the forthcoming Vidhan sabha poll. A total of 1000 cops and 700 jawans of the Home Guard will be deployed at 557 polling booths. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sandeep Garg said that since electronic voting machines will be used in all three assembly constituencies (Panipat, Samalkha and Naultha) of the district, the administration has launched a campaign to acquaint the voters with the machines. Mr Garg said that the Election Commission has appointed Mr B.K. Mishra as the observer for the three assembly seats in this district. The administration has deputed 17 duty magistrates and 28 supervisors. — (TNS)

Prohibitory orders issued
To ensure free and fair elections, in the district, the District Magistrate, Mr Amit Jha has issued prohibitory order under Section 144 of the CrPC imposing restrictions on the movement of public and vehicles within 200 metres of the counting centres and carrying of cellular, mobile phones, pagers, wireless sets and digital diaries etc. Mr Amit Jha said the counting in four assembly segments that of, Ellenabad, Rori and Darbakalan will be held at Sirsa Club, Government Polytechnic for boys, Government National College and Panchayat Bhawan at Sirsa while for the Dabwali constituency, the counting will take place at MP College for Women in Dabwali. — (FOC)


DGP's suit against ex-CM dismissed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 17 — Haryana Director General of Police K. Nirmal Singh's suit against former Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala, the then Home Minister Sampat Singh and other defendants, seeking the recovery of Rs 27 lakh as damages for alleged mental torture and harassment, was dismissed by the UT Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mr Mahender Singh.

Claiming to have suffered a loss of reputation, the DGP had earlier stated that his services were suspended by the defendants even though initiating proceedings under the Public Premises Act only would have served the purpose of getting the house vacated. The report regarding his suspension, the plaintiff had stated, was given "wide coverage in the newspapers".

His counsel had stated that the plaintiff had not disobeyed any order but could not vacate the house on medical grounds. He had added that the plaintiff's medical leave was not allowed, revealing the "malicious and vindictive minds of the defendants". Further, the DGP was asked to appear before a medical board for examination, but no board was constituted.

Pronouncing the orders in the open court, the Civil Judge observed: "An official who has misfortune to become a victim of unjustified suspension must live with the stigma throughout his life but in the present case the employer had to take stern action of suspending his services when the plaintiff did not give any hearing to the repeated requests for vacating the government accommodation".

The Civil Judge also observed: "So, the order of suspension was not unjustified, rather was well founded. The act and conduct of repeated disobedience of plaintiff himself led to his suspension. Even otherwise when the Home Ministry did not approve his suspension on account of late submission of charge sheet, the order of suspension was revoked by the government by providing full benefits and treating the period of suspension on duty. Thus revocation of suspension order has left no scar or stigma on the position of the plaintiff".Top


Former Xen’s bail plea dismissed
By Our Legal Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Feb 17 — Mr Justice R.L. Anand of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed a petition of Mr Dhani Ram Chaudhary, formerly Executive Engineer, PWD. (Public Health) Design and Planning Division, Sonepat, now a resident of Jagadhri for anticipatory bail who apprehended his arrest in a corruption case registered against him vide FIR No. 17 dated September 25, 1999, at police station SVB (H) Rohtak/Unit Sonepat.

In a preliminary inquiry conducted against the petitioner, the inquiry officer found him having assets beyond his known sources of income. He computed the income of the petitioner from all sources between 1988 to 1998 and found that he invested Rs 21,23000 into the business of his son. His income from salary was assessed as Rs 2,57,410. Inquiry officer found that accused wealth was assessed at Rs 18,29590/- which was beyond his known sources of income.

The Judge observed that "in my opinion the case of custodial interrogation in public interest is made out against the petitioner and he does not deserve the concession of anticipatory bail", adding that he should be interrogated in custody.

Earlier the special Judge had also dismissed the plea of the petitioner for anticipatory bail.Top


Cash-starved MDU spending lavishly?
From Our Correspondent

ROHTAK, Feb 17 — While Maharshi Dayanand University is facing a financial crisis, the university administration is reportedly spending money "lavishly" on inaugurations and for purchasing furniture for the VIP guest house.

Recently the administration constituted a fresh purchase committee and bought furniture worth nearly Rs 3 lakh from a local trader without inviting tenders, university officials have alleged.

According to university sources, the Registrar had requested the Vice-Chancellor not to procure furniture for the house as it would increase the burden on the university. He suggested that, if necessary, tenders should be invited for the amount involved was more than Rs 1 lakh. He also said better quality furniture was available at much lower prices in Delhi.

He had asked the Vice-Chancellor to maintain financial prudence during the last days of his tenure which expired on February 25. The university was undergoing a financial crisis due to which arrears were yet to be paid to its employees.

However, these suggestions were set aside by the administration while purchasing the furniture.

The sources revealed that the university had no money in its account to pay salaries to its employees next month. It had already stopped the payment of various bills. Despite all this, the university administration had reportedly spent several lakhs of rupees on inaugurations in the past few months. The Registrar, it is learnt, has directed the executive engineer to calculate the total amount spent on inaugurations during the past six months.

Sources close to the Vice-Chancellor, however, denied the charge and claimed that the Vice-Chancellor had never indulged in any act of extravagance.Top


A carriageway or death-trap
From Rakesh Bhardwaj

PANIPAT: The Northern Railway has failed to provide a proper carriageway at the end of platform No 1 for platform Nos 2, 3, 4 and 5. It may be recalled that work was resumed in December, 1999, for the completion of platform No. 1 the height of which was raised and length increased. As the railway contractor dismantled construction at a certain point for his own requirement, the particular point has become a virtual death-trap for commuters.

Sources confirmed that the unauthorised carriageway constructed by the railway contractor on platform No. 1 is the main cause of accidents. Accidents at this point has so far claimed two lives.

Anil Kumar (18), a vendor, died on the spot when he was cut into two pieces by Bathinda express train. According to information, Anil Kumar had been unauthorisedly working on the railway platforms and used to supply bread to vendors. On January 23 morning he had brought bread supply twice for the vendors and was going back for the third trip when the mishap occurred. Talking to one of his friends, Anil Kumar came down to the track by mistake and was cut down into two pieces by the train.

A student also died in the same manner when he jumped out of Himalayan Queen, fell into a ditch and was cut down by a train a month back.

A young man escaped unhurt but his scooter was damaged completely when hit by Shatabdi while he was crossing the tracks from the same death-trap.

Mr K.K. Anand, Public Works Inspector (PWI), said in the absence of any other passage "we were forced to dismantle this portion as our offices, stores, yards are located on the site for platform No. 5. Tractors-trailers too have to ferry rail material using the same dangerous, carriageway. He stated that the Inspector of Works (IOW) had got the plan for another carriageway approved but work permission from the Commissioner, Railway Safety (CBS), was not granted. Hence the railway staff and others are forced to use the same death-trap.

When the driver of a tractor-trailer was questioned by this correspondent on this account, he said to secure permission for using this carriageway was a long process but it was easy to do the job with the blessings of certain railway officials.

Mr Rakesh Chopra, DRM, New Delhi, visited Panipat on February 1 and examined the site where work is in progress. He is again coming on February 25. But he, too, did not take any initiative to set things right. Top


ISKCON yatra
From Our Correspondent

PANIPAT, Feb 17 — The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Kurukshetra, has decided to organise the Lord Jagannath rath yatra festival here on February 19. According to Sakshi Gopal Dasa Prabhu, president of ISKCON, Kurukshetra.

The yatra will start at 1 p.m. from Devi Mandir and culminate at S.D. Vidya Mandir around 8 p.m.Top

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