Sunday, February 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Advani pleads for Chautala
GURGAON, Feb 19 — Union Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, today sought installation of governments in the states which would coordinate with the Centre and put its funds given to them for development works to good use. In this context, he said that a government headed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala would be the most ideal one.

PM to visit Palwal, Ambala also
GURGAON, Feb 19 — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will also visit Palwal in Faridabad district and Ambala, besides Panipat, on his visit to Haryana on February 20.

Punjab commandos called back
BATHINDA, Feb 19 — Punjab police commandos which were deployed in Haryana for security arrangements during the coming general assembly elections have been asked to leave the state immediately by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Central Government.

Badal sure of NDA victory
FATEHABAD, Feb 19 — The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has said a landslide victory for the BJP and its allies and a total rout of the Congress after the coming Assembly poll is certain.

Congress main contender Faridabad
FARIDABAD, Feb 19 — All the six constituencies in Faridabad district are poised for a fierce contest either between the Congress and the INLD-BJP combine or between the Congress and Independents (mainly Congress and BJP rebels).

Mohindra refuses to bask in father’s glory
BAUND KALAN (Bhiwani), Feb 19 — As soon as Mr Ranbir Singh Mohindra, Congress aspirant from the Mundal Khurd constituency, came out of his dusty Sumo at the main market here. He was surrounded by a gathering of about 50 persons.




Three booked for raping girl
KURUKSHETRA, Feb 19 — The local police has registered a case against Jasbir Singh and three others under Sections 363, 366 and 376/34, IPC, for allegedly kidnapping and raping a minor girl at Sector 13 here on the intervening night of February 15 and 16.

Punjabi poetry recitation contest held
AMBALA, Feb 19 — An inter-college Punjabi poetry recitation competition in memory of renowned Punjabi writer Dhani Ram Chatrik has been organised by the Punjabi Sahit Sabha of Government Post-graduate College, Ambala.

VC's clarification
CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — The Vice-Chancellor of Maharshi Dayanand University clarified today that the alleged irregularities in the examination branch were detected by the Controller of Examinations and not by anyone else as alleged in a report published in this newspaper on February 19
Earlier story: Cash-starved MDU spending lavishly?



Advani pleads for Chautala

GURGAON, Feb 19 — Union Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, today sought installation of governments in the states which would coordinate with the Centre and put its funds given to them for development works to good use. In this context, he said that a government headed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala would be the most ideal one.

Mr Advani, who addressed the first election-related public meeting here to canvass for the BJP nominee, Mr Tilak Raj Malhotra, asserted that the BJP and its ally faced no challenge from their opponents in the state.

Mr Advani, who came to Haryana after canvassing for the nominees of the BJP and its allies in Bihar and Orissa, said that his party was of the view that the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led government at the Centre should continue with its vision for the overall transformation in society by achieving the goal of total welfare of the people and encourage its allies. The parties forming governments in the states must coordinate and also work according to the vision of the Centre.

The party had taken up the challenge in Bihar where it was said that no matter what happened the Rashtriya Janata Dal leadership and the party’s government were invincible at the hustings. The country was resigned to the fact that the RJD could manipulate the elections in its favour in any given situation.This election would reverse the trend, he added.

Mr Advani held the prevailing poverty in the country to the "corrupt" and "misrule" of the successive governments of the Congress. It was shocking that India ranked 134 out of the 170 countries in the comity of nations by the UN on the basis of "Human Development Index"; this was based on education, health and income of the people. He lamented that Asian countries like Malaysia,Sri Lanka and Thailand were better placed than India in the international ranking.

Earlier, the president of the Haryana unit of the BJP, Mr Om Prakash Grover, cautioned the masses not to be misled by some of the INLD rebels who are in the fray as Independents where the BJP nominees were contesting. The INLD chief had already made it clear that the rebels did not have the party’s support. Without naming former minister Rao Narbir Singh, who is contesting as BSP nominee in Gurgaon, he said that he had no ethics and was a constant defector. He shifted his loyalty to parties and constituencies. He won the last election as HVP nominee from Sohna, became a minister, later joined the INLD and hobnobbed with the Congress.When the Congress did not give him the ticket, he joined the BSP to become its nominee from Gurgaon, he added.

Later, Mr Grover told a group of newsmen that Mr Chautala was likely to expel all the rebels contesting as Independents from the INLD.

Those present on the occasion include former Delhi Chief Minister Saheb Singh Verma, Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Jagdish Mukhi, Vice-President of the Haryana unit of the Mahilla Morcha, Sandhya Bajaj and the BJP MP from Mahendragarh Lok Sabha constituency, Sudha Yadav and Mr Sitaram Singla.

According to observers, the turnout in the much hyped public meeting was unexpectedly low when considered that Mr Advani was to address it. A sizeable chunk of the audience comprised of the BJP leaders,besides the security personnel.Top


PM to visit Palwal, Ambala also
From Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

GURGAON, Feb 19 — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will also visit Palwal in Faridabad district and Ambala, besides Panipat, on his visit to Haryana on February 20.

According to sources, while Palwal has been added in Mr Vajpayee’s itinerary at the instance of Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, Ambala has been included at the persuasion of the BJP.

Mr Chautala had reportedly been trying for Mr Vajpayee’s meeting in Palwal. Former minister, Karan Dalal had joined the BJP after he defected from the HVP along with other party MLAs leading to the fall of the Bansi Lal government. But the BJP had to give up claim on the Palwal seat in favour of the INLD. The reason being that Mr Chautala made the seat a prestige issue. In retaliation Mr Karan Dalal, considered to be a popular leader, defied by contesting as a nominee of the Republican Party of India.

The INLD is keen on winning the seat. The reason being that Mr Dalal, in response to Mr Chautala’s public statement that he would be defeated, challenged him to contest from Palwal. This ugly episode occurred when the INLD-BJP negotiations for the sharing of seats were on. Mr Chautala had also questioned the popularity of other BJP leaders, including state president, Om Prakash Grover Prof Ram Bilas Sharma and Mr Sita Ram Singla.

On the other hand, the Congress arranged the visit of Mrs Gandhi to boost the chances of its nominees in Mewat, especially Nuh — considered to be the headquarters of Mewat — and Ferozepur Jhirka. The Congress nominees are said to be in trouble.

Mr Kanshi Ram wants to give a further boost to its nominees in South Haryana, especially in Gurgaon and Nuh, where the BSP nominees are in the reckoning.Top


Punjab commandos called back
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 19 — Punjab police commandos which were deployed in Haryana for security arrangements during the coming general assembly elections have been asked to leave the state immediately by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Central Government.

After receiving a communication in this regard from the Ministry of Home Affairs today morning, the state police authorities have started withdrawing its commandos from various parts of Haryana and process would be over in a day or two.

Mr Sarbjit Singh, DGP, Punjab Police, who was here today to attend the annual function of Police Public School, told Tribune News Service that 20 companies of Punjab police commandos were deployed in Haryana in view of the assembly elections to be held on February 22.

He said the companies were sent on the request of the Haryana Government on February 15. He said the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the Punjab police authorities to call back its commandos as they were no more required in Haryana.

When asked that what was the reason behind the orders of the ministry, he said that perhaps the decision was taken on the complaint of HPCC, President, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Mr Hooda had lodged a complaint with the Election Commission that Punjab police commandos might be used by the ruling party in Haryana to rig the poll.

When asked that whether the friendship of Mr Om Parkash Chautala and Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the main reason behind the decision, he said that it might be one of the reasons.

Mr Sarbjit Singh said the Punjab police had been alerted to meet the challenge thrown by the forces inimical to the country which were smuggling in fake currency notes. He added that in the last one and half month, the Punjab police had seized counterfeit currency notes worth Rs 5 lakh.

He said the circulation of fake currency notes in the markets could not be prevented absolutely as the general people and staff members of various banks were not yet equipped with the skills to make a distinction between the genuine currency note and counterfeit currency note.

He added the smuggling of narcotics, arms and fake currency notes could not be ruled out from entry and exit points of the country on the borders. He said in Punjab, BSF and Punjab police were having better coordination to thwart the designs of foreign agencies.

To a question, he said that it was for the government to decide whether to stop Samjhauta Express train running between Delhi and Lahore, or not after the seizure of fake currency from the passengers of this train.

The DGP disclosed that the Cabinet decision to repatriate the police officials on deputation to their parent state was being implemented and before the beginning of next financial year. No police official on deputation would remain posted in Punjab.Top


Badal sure of NDA victory
From Our Correspondent

FATEHABAD, Feb 19 — The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has said a landslide victory for the BJP and its allies and a total rout of the Congress after the coming Assembly poll is certain.

Mr Badal was addressing an election rally in support of the INLD candidate, Mr Leela Krishan Choudhary, here today. The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, Mr Mani Ram Godara and the INLD MP from Sirsa, Mr Sushil Indora, were present. Mr Badal held the Congress responsible for all ills in the country.

He said it was a matter of shame that though the Congress had remained in power, at the Centre and in various States for a maximum period of time, but it had not been able to provide even basic necessities like clean drinking water to the people.

He said the Congress never believed in the development. The party, he alleged, had been ruling the country all these years by dividing the people in the name of caste, creed and religion.

He said the people of India cannot be befooled for long. He said the people had now started seeing through the gameplan of the Congress and that was the reason that its base had started shrinking in the recent years.

Mr Badal claimed that the Congress will further disintegrate. After the elections and the people will see that the Congress would be so divided that every state would have its own Congress.

The Punjab Chief Minister did not utter a word about the sensitive issues concerning Punjab and Haryana like the SYL canal but said that the two states were like brothers and their relations would be further strengthened after Mr Chautala regained power. He said the alliance of the SAD and the INLD with the BJP in Punjab and Haryana respectively, was not a marriage of convenience, but it was a marriage of thoughts.

Mr Om Parkash Chautala said he had not come here to seek votes as a Chief Minister of the State but he said, he had come to them as a beggar to beg for their votes. Mr Chautala said he was not begging for himself or his party. Neither was he begging for Mr Vajpayee.

He, he added, was begging for the development of the State, which, he said, had gone far behind during the Congress and the HVP rule.

He promised that he would work for all sections of the society coming back to power.

Claiming that a victory for INLD candidate Mr Leela Krishan Choudhary was a foregone conclusion. Mr Chautala exhorted his party workers to ensure maximum polling so that the margin of victory could be increased.

Former Haryana Home Minister Mr Mani Ram Godara, the party MP from Sirsa Dr Sushil Indora and the INLD candidate from Fatehabad Mr Leela Krishan Choudhary.Top


Congress main contender Faridabad
From D.N. Chaturvedi
Tribune News Service

FARIDABAD, Feb 19 — All the six constituencies in Faridabad district are poised for a fierce contest either between the Congress and the INLD-BJP combine or between the Congress and Independents (mainly Congress and BJP rebels).

In the NIT the main fight is between Mr A.C. Chowdhary (Congress) and Mr Chander Bhatia (BJP). However Subedar Suman, former mayor contesting as an Indpendent may cut into votes of the slum dewellers, but is not likely to make a major dent in the Congress-BJP citadel.

According to pollsters the Congress has gained sufficient ground to make the contest a lively one against the BJP.

The constituency has 2.18 lakh votes comprising 62,000 Punjabis, the majority community followed by 18,000 Muslims and 51,000 Dalits. While Punjabi votes would be divided between the Congress and the BJP, Muslims would favour the Congress. However the Dalit votes may be the deciding factor, in spite of Subedar Suman garnering some votes of the community. Jats are likely to favour the Congress.

In 1996 Mr Bhatia had defeated Mr Chowdhary by 34,407 votes. In Mewla Maharajpur the main fight is again between Mr J.P. Nagar (Congress) and Mr Krishnapal Gujar (BJP) Mr Mahendra Pratap Singh, a Congress rebel who is contesting on the BSP symbol is also a strong candidate. Since all the three are Gujars they are likely to share the votes of 40,000 strong community, with the major going to Mr Nagar. The Nagars and Gujars are around 30,000 while the 10,000 others are Bhadana. The sector votes may mainly go to the BJP.

The outcome is expected to be nail biting finish with Mr Gujar (BJP) having an edge over the Congress and the BSP nominee. Ballabhgarh is likely to witness a key contest between Mr Ram Bilas Sharma, a state-level BJP leader and Mr Rajendra Bisla, a Congress rebel who is in the fray as an Independent. Even the Prime Minister had to address an election meeting on Thursday last in order to boost the prospects of Mr Sharma, who is also contesting from Mahendragarh where he is reported to be on a slippery ground.

Mr Subhash Chowdhary (Congress) is making all out efforts to wrest the initiative to compete with the BJP and the Congress rebel. His campaign seems to have picked up.

In Palwal Mr Karan Dalal, a BJP rebel who is in the fray on the RPI symbol is locked in a key battle with Mr Devinder Chauhan (INLD). The latter is having an edge over the former. The Congress nominee Mr Yogesh Gaur has yet to cover sufficient ground to make to the hustings.

In Hathin too Mr Azmat Khan (Congress) and Mr Bhagwan Sahai Rawat (INLD) are the potential rivals with Mr Harsh Kumar (HVP) close on the heels of the two. If the 36,000 strong Meo votes favour Mr Azmat Khan en block he could be in the winning position.

Hasanpur (reserve) seat will witness a direct clash between Mr Jagdish Nayar (INLD) and Mr Udaybhan, a Congress rebel supported by the BSP. Mr Ram Ratan (Congress) is working hard to make the electoral battle an interesting one.Top


Cong a sinking ship: Khurana
From Our Correspondent

YAMUNANAGAR, Feb 19 — The Congress is a sinking ship and the future of Haryana will be safe in the hands of Mr Om Prakash Chautala, a senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister of Delhi Mr Madan Lal Khurana, has claimed.

While addressing a joint meeting of BJP, Akali Dal and INLD workers here on Thursday, Mr Khurana claimed that the BJP-INLD alliance in Haryana would sweep the elections. He further claimed that there was a wave in favour of these two parties. Mr Khurana was here to campaign for the BJP candidate, Mr Rameshwar Chauhan.

Mr Khurana lauded Mr Om Prakash Chautala for the ‘success’ of the ‘sarkar apke dwar’ programme. He denied that there was any rift between the two parties.

Mr Harcharan Singh Bali, former Minister of Delhi also spoke.

Meanwhile, an election procession was taken out today by the BJP candidate from Yamunanagar constituency, Mr Randhir Singh, through the main streets of the town. Hundreds of women also participated in the procession.

In another development, the Purvanchal Kalyan Sabha and Shri Gopal Paper Mill Kamgar Union have extended their support to the BJP-INLD nominee from this constituency, Dr Kamal Verma.Top


Dhumal confident of BJP, INLD victory
From Our Correspondent

YAMUNANAGAR, Feb 19 — The Congress in Haryana is in a pitiable condition, said Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Addressing series of corner meetings in favour of Dr Kamla Verma, the BJP candidate, stated that in the new millennium the Congress would be wiped out from the national scene because this party was without any leader and policy. He said that in Haryana all the senior leaders of the Congress were working hard to ensure the defeat of their own nominees.

He further added that the Congress has not been able to project any Chief Minister in Haryana as yet. Mr Dhumal said the BJP and the INLD in Haryana would sweep the elections and Mr Om Prakash Chautala would be the next Chief Minister of Haryana. He lauded the contribution of Mr Chautala in launching welfare schemes. He said that candidates of both the BJP and the INLD were working together to ensure the defeat of the Congress. Mr Dhumal reminded that in 1977 when Babu Jagjivan Ram left the Congress the party lost the mandate and now his daughter has resigned from the party.Top


PAP deployment opposed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — The Ambala Congress has demanded that only Central paramilitary forces should be posted in the sensitive Assembly constituency of Naggal in the district.

A former minister, Mr Nirmal Singh, is contesting from Naggal on the Congress ticket. He is being opposed by Mr Jasbir Mallaur of the INLD. As the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, has made the seat a prestige issue for him, the constituency is witnessing a keen contest.

The president of the Ambala District Congress Committee (Rural), Mr Balwant Gupta, in a statement here today said the administration was planning to deploy the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) in Naggal. He said as Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal had personal relations with Mr Chautala and had even campaigned in the state for the INLD, the Congress had no confidence in the PAP.

Claiming that the Congress would win a majority in Ambala district, Mr Gupta urged all the party men to sink their differences and work for the party.Top


Battle royale in Pehowa
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — It is not the Rori constituency alone where an electoral battle between two brothers is on, Pehowa in Kurukshetra district too is witnessing a battle royal between two brothers, both of whom are contesting as Independents.

While in Rori the battle is between two famous members of the Devi Lal family — Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and his younger brother Ranjit Singh, in Pehowa two Saini brothers are fighting it out. A former Haryana Minister, Mr Balbir Saini, is pitted against his step-brother, Mr Sadhu Ram Saini, who had so far left the field of politics for his younger brother. The latter is an industrialist and a philanthropist.

According to family sources, the two brothers had reached an understanding before the poll process started. It was decided that if Balbir succeeded in getting the Congress ticket, he would contest the elections. If not, Sadhu Ram would be in the field as an Independent. Balbir failed to get the Congress ticket. But both brothers decided to contest the elections. Sadhu Ram succeeded in getting the support of the HVP.

The main contest in Pehowa is between Mr Jaswinder Singh of the INLD and Mr Baldev Singh Ramaana of the Congress. The two Sainis seem more interested in scoring over each other than winning the seat.Top


Rajesh Khanna addresses rally
From Our Correspondent

AMBALA, Feb 19 — The Congress will provide power and water at the cheap rate to the people of Haryana if it comes to power. This was stated by film star and Congress leader Rajesh Khanna here today. He was addressing a rally in the city in favour of Mrs Kiran Bala Jain. Later, he also addressed a rally in Ambala cantonment.

He said the BJP and the INLD alliance would not be able to provide a stable government in the state. The present government had failed to provide 24-hour power in the state, he added.

He assured the people that he would again come to the city if they elect the Congress candidate from this seat. Top


Jat samiti to oppose INLD-BJP
From Our Correspondent

SONEPAT, Feb 19 — The Haryana Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti has decided to oppose the INLD-BJP alliance in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Mr Tara Chand Mor, co-convenor and spokesman of the samiti, said here today that the Chautala Government had worked against the farmers in general and the Jats in particular. The samiti did not expect any improvement in the situation after the elections Mr Chautala was voted to power.

Mr Mor said the samiti would support the following candidates: Mr Ranjit Singh (Rori), Mr Randip Singh Surjewala (Narwana), Mrs Chandrawati (Badhada), Mr Virender Singh (Narnaund), Mr Kitab Singh Malik (Gohana).

Mr Mor appealed to Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee not to try to divide the Jats on the basis of region and instead ensure reservation to the Jats of all states.

He said the samiti would continue its agitation till its main demand for reservation to Jats in government jobs was accepted by the Central and state government.Top


Flag march in Sonepat
From Our Correspondent

SONEPAT, Feb 19 — In a bid to ensure free, fair and peaceful Assembly elections in Sonepat district, the district administration organised a flag march here last evening.

Mr Sudhir Rajpal, Deputy Commissioner, said here today the district administration would not allow booth-capturing and law and order would be maintained at all costs.

All six Assembly segments had been divided into sectors and put under the supervision of sector magistrates. Each sector magistrate, would be assisted by a police officer.

The Election Commission had sent commando units from Punjab and the paramilitary forces under the supervision of a DSP-rank officer for patrolling "hyper-sensitive and sensitive" areas in the district.

Mr K.P. Singh, SSP, said all areas bordering Delhi and UP had been sealed. As many as 75 check-posts had been set up to check the entry of anti social elements in the district. Patrolling along the Yamuna river and other border areas had been stepped up.Top


Ban orders in Sonepat
From Our Correspondent

SONEPAT, Feb 19 — Mr Sudhir Rajpal, District Magistrate, Sonepat, today enforced the Punjab Village and Small Town Patrol Act, making it obligatory for all able-bodied adult males of all villages in the district to perform patrol duty round-the-clock for safeguarding railway stations, bridges, railway lines, trains, telephone and telegraph lines, power transmission lines, waterworks, and canals, besides other vital installations.

According to official sources, the order will continue till further orders.

In another order, the DM enforced the prohibitory orders under Section 144, Cr PC, banning the assembly of five or more persons and carrying of firearms in the area of 200 metres of the polling stations in Sonepat district. The movement of vehicles on the polling day was also restricted.

The order will remain effective on February 22.Top


Mohindra refuses to bask in father’s glory
From Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

BAUND KALAN (Bhiwani), Feb 19 — As soon as Mr Ranbir Singh Mohindra, Congress aspirant from the Mundal Khurd constituency, came out of his dusty Sumo at the main market here. He was surrounded by a gathering of about 50 persons.

"He is Bansi Lalji’s eldest son", Sunil Kumar, a villager, whispered to this reporter. "But he is seeking vote on his own, not in his father’s name", Sunil Kumar added. Meanwhile, Mr Mohindra was asking the gathering to turn up for Mr Madhavrao Scindia’s meeting in the village in the afternoon.

The exercise complete, he leaves for the next village, Sajanwas, and repeats what he did in the previous village. On Friday, most of the day was spent by the Congress nominee for mobilising people for the meeting in the afternoon.

In between, he just squeezed in one meeting for himself at Sajanwas where he addressed a gathering. Only the Congress can provide a stable government", he said, adding that the problem of instability was inherent in any coalition government.

"The Congress Party does not make false promises like the INLD or the HVP but the important demands such as power and irrigation water will be taken care of in a better way if the Congress comes to power", he said. The crowd listened attentively and clapped whenever Mr Mohindra’s supporters initiated the clapping. Nowhere did he mention the name of his father Mr Bansi Lal, considered an architect of development of this backward district, in his speech.

"He is Mr Bansi Lal’s son but he is from a rival party, those who have regards for Mr Bansi Lal will vote for Chattar Singh Chauhan", said a villager.

The HVP chief himself toured the constituency extensively on Tuesday and asked people to vote for former Speaker of the Haryana Assembly, Mr Chattar Singh Chauhan, who is seeking re-election from this seat. While canvassing for the HVP’s nominee, Mr Bansi Lal, made it clear that it was Mr Chauhan who was more of a son to him.

"I am not on speaking terms with my father", Mr Mohindra told this correspondent in course of an interview at his sprawling residence, which is close to Mr Bansi Lal’s house in Bhiwani town. He said he had never liked regional parties and when his father formed the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP), he decided not to have any truck with it. "This annoyed my father and our relationship started deteriorating", Mr Mohindra, who is a criminal lawyer by profession, said.

Despite Mr Bansi Lal’s active backing Mr Chattar Singh Chauhan is lagging behind in this constituency which is witnessing fight between Mr Mohindra and the INLD contender, Mr Shashi Parmar.

Mr Mohindra is instantly recognised by the voters as Mr Bansi Lal’s son, though he is not taking any undue advantage of this fact. The Mundal Khurd constituency, comprising 42 villages and no town, has an electorate of about 1.15 lakh, including more than 30,000 Jat voters. The Jats are packing Mr Ranbir Singh, who is himself a Jat.

However, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister and INLD chief, who recently toured this constituency appealed to the Jat community to vote for Shashi Parmar. If Mr Parmar manages to secure a section of the Jat votes, it can upset the applecart of Mr Mohindra.

The Rajputs, with more than 22,000 adults, are the second largest group of voters in the constituency, and both Mr Parmar and Mr Chauhan belong to this community. However, Mr Chauhan evidently is not a favourite among the Rajput this time. Mr Chauhan, in fact, belongs to Baund Kalan village and even here the villagers seem to be divided between Mr Mohindra and Mr Parmar, not for Mr Chauhan.

"We want the HVP nominee to buck up a little bit so that there is a split in the Rajput votes", confided Mr N.N. Goswami, an activist of the Mohindra camp. The Brahmins, the backward castes and the Scheduled Castes are the other major groups in this constituency and their support will be crucial.Top


Independent gains ground
From Suman Bhatnagar

AMBALA: The Congress and the BJP are facing tough fight from an Independent candidate, Mr Anil Vij, in the Ambala Cantonment. In 1996 Assembly elections this seat was retained by Mr Vij as an Independent. He has been contesting from here in the past. The BJP has again put up its party President of the local unit, Dr K.D. Sharma, who seems to be in ‘form’ this time. The Congress has allotted its ticket to a woman candidate, Mrs Sudarshana Dua, who have been the Chairman, Municipal Council, Ambala Sadar.

Mrs Sudarshna Dua has been facing the problems from her own party leaders. Some of the leaders who were the aspirants of the ticket in the party were not reportedly supporting her internally. Three days back when HPCC President, Bhupinder Singh Hooda came to Ambala Cantonment to address a rally, the supporters of Mr Bhajan Lal reportedly boycotted the rally.

No doubt the Congress has a strong hold in Ambala Cantonment from the beginning. For the last two decades there has been a keen contest between the Congress and the BJP.

In 1977 Mrs Sushma Swaraj was elected from here on the Janata Party ticket defeating her Congress rival, Mr Dev Raj Anand. In 1982 the Congress captured this seat defeating Som Chopra of the BJP. In 1987 again Mrs Sushma Swaraj got elected from here. In 1990, during the mid-term poll for the first time Anil Vij was elected MLA on the BJP ticket. In 1991 the Congress candidate, Brij Anand, won this seat defeating Mr Vij of the BJP. In 1996 Mr Anil Vij captured this seat as an Independent candidate defeating both the Congress and BJP candidates.

In Lok Sabha election held a few months back the BJP-INLD candidate, Mr Rattan Lal Kataria, who secured the over all lead of 1,24,333, get only 1714 lead from the Ambala Cantt constituency.

Mr Anil Vij seems to be confident that the electorate would recognise development works done during his tenure. In 1996 for the second time Mr Vij was elected to the Haryana Assembly.

The BJP candidate, Dr K.D. Sharma, is a leading orthopaedic specialist of Ambala. In 1996 when he contested the election for the first time on the BJP ticket he was not acceptable to the local BJP workers, but this time the picture is different.Top


Contests take fierce turn
By Gobind Thukral
Tribune News Service

YAMUNANAGAR, Feb 19 — The contests to enter the Haryana assembly are fierce. No major party candidate is leaving anything to chance. Even Independents, mostly rebels trying to make going tough, whose nominations they could not stop. Some of them would certainly succeed.

In the nine Vidhan Sabha constituencies falling in the Kurukshetra Lok Sabha area and part of three districts of Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Kaithal, all major parties are claiming big victories. The din of electioneering has risen. While Jeeps, cars and Sumos, full of party supporters rush from place to place, keeping the candidates in upbeat mood. The dusk comes as a reminder of ground realities.

Money is no problem for most of the contestants. Kitchens that prepare tea and food during the day turn into drinking dens as the dusk falls. ‘‘We have no choice. The old time of having committed cadre is nearly gone. We too have keep these people in good humour and what is better than a drink or two," admits a BJP leader. The result is visible when their own supporters would not let the speakers address a late evening public meeting by keeping the chorus of "Zindabad" and "jeete ga bhai jeete ga". The Union Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami had tough time to make the supporting crowd listen to him.

At least in seven of the nine constituencies of Yamunanagar, Shahbad, Thanesar, Pehowa, Kaithal, Pai and Pundri money power is visible. Even in the two reserved constituencies of Redauar and Guhla, not many candidates lack resources.

While observers keep some watchful eye on the poll expenses, all cannot be accounted for. "Well, our supporters provide the funds. There is no dearth. But funds are not unlimited also", admit Congress and INLD leaders in Kurukshetra. In fact, the question nags them. Even a rally of the BSP, the party of the poor, say at Chhachhrauli could cost anything around Rs 1 lakh.

To a question why do the supporters donate so handsomely, a school teacher Mr Prhalad Singh replied: "This is an investment. It is like betting on a winning horse. You need the support of an MLA to get things done. Say jobs, work in the police stations, tehsils and other offices. Even a defeated leader is worth something as he can pull strings here and there. One feels insecure without their help or presence". Politics is a good business.

Ask officials from the police, the revenue, the Public Works Departments or from the irrigation or even from the education, they have to take care of the needs of the politicians, both the ruling and the opposition. These middle level officers need comfortable postings or places where they can spin money. Some are so much influential that they get their own colleagues prime place and thus are more powerful. In the process they make money. "We have to do all this to survive. Some also make money. The system is so rotten and we have to go with this", explains one such officer at Radauar. "The system is perfect. These officials have to be on the right side of the powers that be and it suits the politicians immensely. Both sides thrive on this" adds Mr Raghbir Singh, one time secretary of Haryana CPM.

As campaign enters the fast lane and the candidates pull their socks, voters fear because they feel that they would once again be cheated and hope that someone might finally emerge who could be their saviour. But it is largely despondency that marks their mood. For them it is darkness at noon. "What shall we get out of this whole exercise. Perhaps more taxes and more burden. More bus fare and more prices. I am going to be a blacksmith all my life as my father was. But is there any hope for my two sons?", questions 35 year-old blacksmith, Ram Lal near Kheri Dabdalan in the Thanesar Assembly area. His views are shared by a small farmer sitting on his hunches and sipping tea. He is sad and angry. The debate with the people around turns very sullen indeed. But the farmer is able to retain his humour when he adds, "look son, you could at least visit these camps of the candidates in the evening and enjoy free booze and food for some days or even have free rides in their cars and Jeeps. You have just to shout some slogans. That is all".

In the nearby Babain, some school teachers who have finished their teaching sit in a tea stall and sip tea. Their chatting centres around who would be winning in Shahbad, Radauar, Thanesar and all over Haryana. It is indeed interesting to listen to this group. They are teachers after all. While a senior one says, "if Mr Bansi Lal could organise a good party and run the government for five years, he could really develop the area". But from where he would get leaders of quality. Says the other and two others nod in agreement but a third one differs. "Individuals are important, but then the system is rotten. There is nothing wrong with Mr Chautala. It is corruption which is at the core of all problems", he adds.Top


BJP faces tough task in Taoru
From Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

MEWAT, Feb 19 — The ruling INLD, the Congress and the BSP are on equal footing in the three Assembly segments of Nuh, Taoru and Ferozepur Jhirka in Mewat dominated by Meo Muslims, while the BJP faces a daunting task of retaining the Taoru seat.

The Congress nominee and former minister Khurshid Ahmed, who represented the Nuh Assembly constituency in the last Assembly, is again in the fray as the party candidate. But the BSP’s Habibur Rehman (BSP) and Mr Hamid Hussain (INLD) have severely threatened the Congress’ prospects. The general feeling is that Mr Habibur Rehman, who had resigned as Tehsildar and unsuccessfully contested on the HVP ticket in the last election, is having an edge on all 14 candidates in the fray as a BSP nominee.

Congress circles, however, feel that Mr Khurshid Ahmed will finally catch up, but it is the INLD nominee, Mr Hamid Hussain, who was showing signs of a showdown with the BSP nominee. The BSP nominee is a brother of former minister Illiyas Mohammad, who is contesting as the INLD nominee from the neighbouring Ferozepur Jhirka Assembly segment. The support base of Mr Illiyas Mohammad in Nuh is siding with Mr Rabibur Rehman rather than Mr Hamid Hussain.

Mr Hamid Hussain is a brother of Congress stalwart from Mewat, Tayab Hussain, who is a minister in the Rajasthan Government. His supporters are siding with Mr Hamid Hussain rather than Mr Khurshid Ahmed. Significantly, the son of Mr Tayab Hussain and nephew of Mr Hamid Hussain, Mr Zakir Huassain, is contesting as the Congress nominee in the adjoining Taoru Assembly segment.

The problem of Mr Khurshid Ahmed is that his traditional family rivalry with Mr Tayab Hussain remains unabated. His camp alleges that supporters of Mr Khurshid Ahmed had worked against the candidature of Mr Zakir Hussain when he had contested as the Congress nominee from the Faridabad Lok Sabha constituency in the last Lok Sabha elections, resulting in his defeat.

The INLD camp is, however, optimistic about the support of Hindus in the urban areas on account of the INLD-BJP alliance. But Mr Hamid Hussain wears the tag of a person who has unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections four times.

In Taoru, the BJP is hurtling towards a major upset by the Congress. The BJP has renominated Mr Surajpal, who represented the seat in the last Assembly. He was also a minister in the Bansi Lal Government. The BJP won the seat in the last election sending ripples in political circles of the state and the national capital. The main factor that contributed to his victory was the popularity of the HVP-BJP combine led by Mr Bansi Lal and division of the Muslim vote.

To add to the discomfort of the BJP nominee, Mr Subhash Goyal (Independent) is threatening to corner a good chunk of the upper Hindu caste votes, the support base of the party here.

In Ferozepur Jhirka, former minister and INLD nominee Illiyas Mohammad, engaged in a direct fight with another former minister and Congress nominee Shakrullah Khan, appears to be having an upper hand.Top


Sampat Singh has the edge
From Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

BHATTU KALAN (Fatehabad) — Haryana’s Finance Minister and senior INLD leader, Prof Sampat Singh, is wooing the voters of this predominantly rural seat for the sixth time. Hence he is no stranger to the Bhattu Kalan electorate to whom he was first time introduced in 1980. After remaining unsuccessful in his maiden attempt, Prof Sampat Singh went on to win the next three elections consecutively in 1982, 1987 and 1991.

However, he lost to the veteran HVP leader, Mr Mani Ram Godara, in 1996 by a margin of about 7,000 votes. He made to the dissolved House in a byelection from the neighbouring constituency of Fatehabad in 1998. But his heart remained in Bhattu. After he became the Finance Minister in the Chautala ministry, Prof Sampat Singh nursed both Bhattu and Fatehabad constituencies.

When Mr Godara joined the INLD and expressed the desire to contest from Bhattu, Prof Sampat Singh was a much worried person till his nomination was announced from Bhattu by the party.

Challenging Prof Sampat Singh is Mr Jagdish Nehra of the Congress. A former minister, Mr Nehra was nominated for Bhattu as a result of a compromise. Mr Nehra wanted to challenge the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, from his traditional constituency of Rori in Sirsa district. Mr Chautala’s younger brother, Ranjit, too wanted to contest from Rori. The party gave the Rori seat to Ranjit and pushed Nehra to Bhattu.

Mr Nehra admits that he came to Bhattu most reluctantly. He says the response of the voters in the constituency is much better than what he had expected. One reason of his enthusiasm is that the Bishnois, about 13,000 strong in the area, have by and large extended support to Mr Nehra under the influence of the former Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal, besides the traditional Congress vote bank. He says the voters of the constituency want a change and there is anti-incumbency factor against Prof Sampat Singh.

The INLD supporters says Prof Sampat Singh is mainly responsible for the development of Bhattu. The voters know that the professor, considered to be an important member of the INLD think tank, will occupy a prominent position in any INLD dispensation in the State. The INLD is fairly comfortable against Mr Nehra, considered to be an outsider in the area.

Mr Jai Narain Verma of the Congress is involved in an unequal fight with Mr Lila Kishan of the INLD from the Fatehabad constituency. Mr Lila Kishan, who was once considered close to Mr Bhajan Lal, had quit the Congress and joined the INLD during the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. He is one of the few who despite being a new entrant to the INLD had been nominated by the party. A former minister, Mr Lila Kishan, with the help of his personal influence among the Punjabi community here and the INLD vote bank is confident of making it to the Assembly.

A former Haryana minister and former president of the Haryana Congress, Mr Harpal Singh, is locked in a fierce battle with Mr Nishan Singh of the INLD. The President of the district unit of the INLD, Mr Nishan Singh, is a Kamboj Sikh and has entered the electoral arena for the first time. The fight promises to be close. A Congress rebel, Mr Gian Chand Pruthi, can make a dent in the vote bank of Mr Harpal Singh.

In the Ratia (reserved) constituency rebels are posing a problem to the INLD nominee, Mr Jarnail Singh. Mr Mahavir Prasad, former secretary of the Haryana BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha; and Mr Atma Singh Gill, a former MLA, are cutting into the INLD-BJP votes in what could have been a one-sided affair. The Congress nominee, Mr Jagdish Mistry, who belongs to Hisar, has not been able to organise his campaign. His mainstay remains the traditional Congress vote bank.

By putting up "outsiders" on three of the four seats in the district the Congress has virtually made the INLD task of making a clean sweep in Fatehabad easy.Top


Will Rewari go to Ahirs again?
From Our Correspondent

REWARI, Feb 19 — An Independent candidate, Mr Vijay Somani, who enjoys the support of a prominent BSP leader, Mr Raghu Yadav, is making all-out efforts to break the past record of only Ahir candidates being elected from here in all previous assembly elections held from 1952 to 1996.

Among the 12 candidates in the fray, Mr Somani is the only Baniya (Vaish) candidate. His three main rivals — Capt Ajay Singh Yadav (Cong), Mr Shiv Rattan Singh (BJP) and Mr Randhir Singh Kapriwas (Ind) — all belong to the Ahir community.

Mr Somani, Mr Kapriwas and Capt Ajay Singh are all looked in neck and neck fight.Top


Three booked for raping girl
From Our Correspondent

KURUKSHETRA, Feb 19 — The local police has registered a case against Jasbir Singh and three others under Sections 363, 366 and 376/34, IPC, for allegedly kidnapping and raping a minor girl at Sector 13 here on the intervening night of February 15 and 16.

According to an FIR lodged with the police, the girl was kidnapped from near the local Bank colony while she was returning to her ‘Jhuggi’ situated under the flyover on the Kurukshetra-Pipli road.

The girl told the police that she was forcibly kidnapped by Jasbir Singh and three others in a white Maruti car. She alleged that she was taken to a Health Club at Sector 13 where she was raped by two of them. She was later dropped at about 4 a.m. next day at the spot from where she was forcibly kidnapped.

The girl also told the police that she knew Jasbir Singh because the transport company where her father worked was situated near her ‘jhuggi’

The girl’s father Afsar Ali, a truck cleaner, alleged that he was rebuked when he went to police station for getting an FIR lodged. The case was registered only when the Superintendent of Police intervened.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Health Club has expressed ignorance about the incident, while the club’s servant is reportedly missing. The results of medico-legal report have confirmed that the girl was raped. However, no arrest has been made so far.Top


Punjabi poetry recitation contest held
Tribune News Service

AMBALA, Feb 19 — An inter-college Punjabi poetry recitation competition in memory of renowned Punjabi writer Dhani Ram Chatrik has been organised by the Punjabi Sahit Sabha of Government Post-graduate College, Ambala.

Amanpreet Kaur and Sandeep Kaur of Government College for Women, Patiala, won the overall trophy. Amanpreet, Anuradha, Jasdeep, Sandeep and Kamal Jeet won the first, second and third prizes, respectively. As many as 36 students of different colleges of Punjab and Haryana participated in this competition.

Prof H. S. Sodhi, Principal Joginder Singh, Surjeet Singh Surjeet, Tejinder Walia and Baljeet Singh were honoured for their contribution in the development of Punjabi language, literature and culture. Principal C. S. Arora honoured the writers and the chief guest, Mr Ramesh Kumar, Principal of MLN College, Yamunanagar, gave away the prizes.

Dr Gurdev Singh, Convener of the Punjabi Sahit Sabha, encouraged the students to promote the Punjabi culture and language in Haryana.


VC's clarification
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — The Vice-Chancellor of Maharshi Dayanand University clarified today that the alleged irregularities in the examination branch were detected by the Controller of Examinations and not by anyone else as alleged in a report published in this newspaper on February 19.

The Vice-Chancellor in a statement said an attempt appeared to have been made by certain disgruntled officers, including the Registrar.

Necessary steps were being taken to investigate the issue and bring the culprits to book. Anyone found involved in the irregularities would be dealt with severely, the statement added.Top


Rajesh Pilot faces black flags
NARNAUL: Mr Rajesh Pilot, MP and senior leader of the Congress visited the Nangal Chaudhry on Saturday to boost the election campaign of Mrs Renu Poswal, daughter of former Punjab Home Minister Kanhya Lal Poswal, a candidate from this Assembly constituency, 25 km from here. He faced strong resentment and was shown black flags by opponents of Nalwati area (Gujjar belt) who are the deciding factor in the election. — FOC

Hooda weighed against blood
The pradesh Congress chief and party’s candidate form Kiloi assembly constituency in the district, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, was weighed against blood by supporters of his party at a function held here on Friday. At least 225 units of blood was collected and later donated to the blood bank of the postgraduate institute of medical sciences here. — FOC

All set for Ambala poll
The police has made arrangements for the assembly elections for five constituencies of Ambala City, Ambala Cantonment, Naraingarh, Mulana, and Naggal of the district Ambala. As many as 41 booths of Sadhaura, Yamunanagar district constituency lies in the territorial jurisdiction of Ambala, 44 booths of Raipur Rani of Panchkula district area falls in Naraingarh constituency and Bhuni village of Ambala lies in Shahbad of Kurukshetra district. The Superintendent of Police, Mr Navdeep Singh Virak said there would be seven partrolling parties in each assembly constituency. — FOC

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