Monday, September 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Arora’s widow is Cong nominee
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 3 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced the name of Ms Parmeshwari Devi as the party candidate for the Sunam Assembly byelection, scheduled for September 29.

With today's announcement the Congress has put to rest all controversies and speculations over the choice of the candidate. In fact, Capt Amarinder Singh, himself said that it was the media's speculation that the Congress was considering giving the ticket to Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha, who had earlier contested the election as Akali rebel in 1997 and had defeated Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, now a Union Minister, the official SAD candidate.

Capt Amarinder Singh told mediapersons today that Mr Mokha was never ever considered as a candidate. "I have never ever seen his face. I have not even met him, what to say of considering him as a party choice", he added.

Ms Parmehswari Devi is the widow of Bhagwan Das Arora, who had defeated Mr Dhindsa in the 1997 assembly poll. He had won in 1992 as well. He committed "suicide" on July 3. She was present at the news conference.

Born on August 6, 1943 in a business family of Mansa, she married Bhagwan Das Arora in 1961 and has four children. She is middle pass. Starting from a scratch, the couple struggled hard both in politics and business.

She gave support to her husband when he first entered the electoral field in 1992 and won the seat. He became a minister in Beant Singh's government. Deeply religious and homely, she familiarised herself with the people and problems of her husband's constituency in the past about eight years and nursed the constituents when Arora was not around.

The Congress President hoped the CPI, its old ally, would support Ms Parmeshwari Devi.

Asked about the election strategy , the PPCC President said unemployment, economic issues, rural development and non-performance were some of the issues. Moreover, paddy procurement and power bills were causing concern to the farmers.

Answering other questions , Capt Amarinder Singh said his party favoured a strong Centre but more fiscal powers to the states. "More than any other war it is the economic war which will gain currency in time to come", he added.

Meanwhile, the state CPI Secretary, Dr Joginder Dayal, in a written statement has suggested putting up of a common candidate by' secular' parties to give a crushing defeat to the SAD-BJP candidate.

The CPI has held discussions with like- minded parties and hoped the Congress would not put up its candidate. Nevertheless, the Sangrur district unit of the CPI has suggested the name of Mr Sampuran Singh as the party candidate from Sunam.

The Akali faction led by Mr Sinmanjit Singh Mann has already announced its candidate, while, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra's Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal , too, is looking for a common candidate to defeat the Congress. His party will announce its candidate shortly.

On the other hand, the ruling SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has summoned a meeting of the party's Political Affairs Committee here tomorrow to decide on the party candidate. Mr Parminder Singh, son of Mr Dhindsa ,is likely to be the SAD candidate.

Since the Sunam byelection is being viewed as a prelude to the state assembly elections due in 2001,its outcome, analysts say, will have a bearing on it.

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