Friday, May 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Gen Padmanabhan next Army Chief likely
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, May 4 — Lt-Gen S. Padmanabhan, GOC-in-Chief Southern Command, is likely to be the next Army chief after Gen V.P. Malik retires on September 3, 2000.

Lt-Gen Chandrashekhar, Vice-Chief, would have been the natural successor to Gen Malik but the former too is retiring on September 30. Since the track record of Army chief has been excellent a move had intiated to give a day’s extension to Mr Chandrashekhar so that once he assumed the charge of the Army chief he was bound to get two years tenure in the service as the retirement age for the Army chief is 62.

For the time time being there has been no takers for this move on the plea that it was unprecedented and it would create heartburn in the top brass of the Army.

Lt-Gen Padmanabhan has remained the Army Commander, Northern Command, for several years during the crucial period ending 1998. As Army commander he had won accolades not only from the Defence Ministry but from rank down to the soldiers.

Informed sources said that the central government would stick to seniority and merit for elevation of an Army commander to the post of Army Chief Gen Padmanabhan is considered to be a hard-task master. Only thing that can mar his chances for becoming the Army chief is if Gen V.P. Malik quits or seeks premature retirement. In that case Lt-Gen Chandrashekhar would be elevated to the Army chief’s post which he can retain for over two years.

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has decided to provide incentives to private entrepreneurs who would start manufacturing spare parts for sophisticated weapons including long-range guns, fighter planes and tanks. The Defence Ministry has come to the conclusion that India has purchased these sophisticated equipment later inflate the rates of spares by creating artificial scarcity.

The Defence Ministry is said to have conveyed its decision to provide incentives and assured market in case the industrialists started manufacturing spares. These industrial units would receive technical guidance from the scientists of the DRDO and this know-how would be made available to them free of cost.


Badal hatao’ stir launched
‘From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

RAKHRA, May 4 — The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today launched its “Badal hatao” campaign from this village, 15 km from Patiala.

A substantial number of party workers under the leadership of Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary, SHSAD, first organised a rally here at the native village of Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra who was the SAD candidate for the last Lok Sabha elections against Mr Chandumajra and Mrs Parneet Kaur (Congress) for the Patiala seat.

After the rally, a procession of party workers travelling in a convoy of vehicles passed through several villages of the district and culminated in the evening at Dakala village. A number of rallies were organised enroute at Shatrana, Samana and Dakala.

The rally at Rakhra village was a show of strength against Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra as the sarpanch of the village belonging to the SHSAD was recently suspended by the state government on corruption charges. The sarpanch, Mr Randhir Singh, had alleged that he had been framed and victimised for being a member of the SHSAD.

The rally was peaceful barring an incident in the morning when supporters of Mr Rakhra tried to obstruct the rally. In a press note released in the evening by Mr Rakhra’s supporters claimed that the rally by Mr Chandumajra was a failure as outsiders were brought to participate in the rally. The press note added that flags were hoisted in the village to protest against the rally organised in support of the “suspended” sarpanch.

The rally did lost some sheen as Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD and Mr Ravi Inder Singh, the new rallying point for dissident Akali leaders, did not make it to the rally. Talking to mediapersons, Mr Chandumajra said Mr Tohra was indisposed. He gave no reason for Mr Ravi Inder Singh’s absence.

Addressing the rally, Mr Chandumajra said the SAD-BJP government had failed on all fronts.

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