Sunday, January 14, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Maghi turns into election mela
Congress bashing at Muktsar rally

From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

MUKTSAR, Jan 13 — Even as the BJP central leadership, including its national chief, Mr Bangaru Laxman, failed to turn up at the SAD rally held here today on the occasion of Maghi reportedly due to foggy conditions, a few thousand mobilised crowd’s response also remained foggy towards the election-oriented speeches of various speakers, including the state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, and the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

Almost all speakers while making a scathing attack on the Congress party urged the people to vote for the SAD-BJP alliance in the coming block samiti, zila parishad, SGPC and assembly elections.

The mobilised gathering also felt disappointed over the lack of any concrete agenda of governance being spelt out and the absence of central BJP leaders from today’s rally. The traditional enthusiasm and fervour among the mobilised gathering remained largely lacking throughout the proceedings which concentrated on attacking the Congress party and its present leadership in Punjab.

Keeping in view the coming elections, both Mr Badal and Punjab BJP chief Brij Lal Rinwa declared that there was no rift between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP in the state. While Mr Rinwa went to the extent of saying that the next Chief Minister of Punjab would be Mr Badal the latter responded by making a statement that the SAD-BJP alliance was everlasting. No minister or MLA of the BJP addressed the gathering.

Mr Badal who tried to woo the masses by announcing that next year would be the year of development in Punjab and liberal funds would be arranged for solving the pressing problems of the people, said if the people failed to uproot the Congress from the country, they would be destroying the future of generations to come.

In the past 45 years the Congress had destroyed every institution of the country and remained in power by dividing the people on religious, caste, regional and professional lines. He added that SHSAD, president Gurcharan Singh Tohra and his associates had become a tool in the hands of the Congress and were trying to harm the government which came into power after getting massive mandate from the people.

He declared that the minorities’ interests were safe in the hands of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had succeeded in restoring the honour of Punjabis in other states. The entire Punjabi community had developed strong faith in Mr Vajpayee over the years due to his love and affection for them.

Mr Badal said the Congress in Punjab was trying to come into power with its party chief who had deserted the Akali Dal as he was denied the party ticket in the last assembly elections. The Congress which was promising a good government to people should first set its own house in order, he added.

Making an oblique reference to Mr Tohra, Mr Badal said SAD had managed overall control over the SGPC. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) on the other hand had been isolated and was befooling the people by raising irrelevant issues.

The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said the differences between SAD and Congress were not merely political but these were based on basic principles. He added that SAD would never forgive the Congress party till the accounts relating to atrocities committed on Akalis and the damage done to the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar and the massacres of Sikhs in riots were not settled.

The Haryana Chief Minister, who tried to speak in chaste Punjabi, said there was no dispute between Punjab and Haryana on any issue. He said the boycott of the Congress rally by local MP Jagmeet Brar showed the Congress in Punjab had been grabbed by capitalists and feudal lords.

The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister said it was the Congress which had signed GATT during the prime ministership of Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao. The BJP had organised a massive rally in Delhi to stop the Congress government from selling the economic interests of the country.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC, president said certain Akali leaders, who played with the sentiments of youths and ultimately got them killed, should also be blamed.

People for today’s rally were brought by various SAD leaders in trucks and buses which unloaded them just in front of the venue while the vehicles carrying the workers of other parties were not allowed to move towards the city from the outskirts. Policemen deployed in and around the SAD rally meant for foolproof security arrangements were seen urging the people to enter the “pandal”.

Former Union Minister Sukhbir Badal, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Sujan Singh, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg (all ministers), Mr Manpreet Badal, Mr Makhan Singh and Mr Mantar Brar (all MLAs) and a number of SGPC members were present at the rally.


Badal patronising criminals: Cong
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

MUKTSAR, Jan 13 — All opposition parties, including the Congress and the CPI holding separate political conferences to mark the Maghi fair here, were unanimous in indicting the ruling SAD-BJP government for corruption and misrule.

While the Congress, the main opposition party, accused the Badal government of corruption and criminalisation of politics, the CPI announced its decision to make corruption its election issue in the next Assembly poll.

The Punjab Congress president, Capt Amarinder Singh, categorically charged the Badal government with encouraging corruption and criminality in the state. He also blamed the ruling SAD-BJP combine for a “shattered economy” of Punjab and attributed the spate of suicides by poor farmers to the wrong handling of the agrarian policies by the Badal government.

He also warned that the small industry was also on the verge of closure, rendering thousands of youth jobless.

Former Union Minister and a very senior Congress leader, Mr Balram Jakhar said that a once prosperous state, Punjab had been reduced to a shattered economy due to the wrongdoings of the Badal regime. Ridiculing Mr Badal’s charge against the Congress for ruining the economy, he said that it was the previous Congress regime that set the ball of progress rolling. He remained that the Congress leaders had made sacrifices to rid Punjab of disturbances engineered by the Akali Dal. He added: “The Badal regime has done more harm to the farming community, whereas it was our party that stalled the proposal to tax farm income”.

Senior Punjab Congress leader, Bir Devinder Singh was at his sarcastic best when he asked Mr Badal to hold a “sangat darshan”, where his own wife and son be summoned to explain their acts of corruption. He categorically alleged that both Mrs Badal and her son, Mr Sukhbir Badal were minting money in lieu of appointing certain officers as Deputy Commissioners and SSPs. Former Congress Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar also spoke on the occasion.

Addressing a thin gathering, the CPI state secretary, Mr Joginder Dayal, announced that his party would contest the next election on corruption issue. He called upon the public to rid Punjab of corruption by strengthening the hands of the Left parties. He cautioned that the Congress president, Capt Amarinder Singh’s promise to nail the corrupt Akali leaders sounded hollow and seems to be a poor copy of a similar assurance made by Mr Badal against the former Congress ministers. Much like, Mr Badal has failed to nail the ex-Congress ministers, Capt Amarinder would also fail to keep his words.

Mr Dayal alleged that all appointments and recruitments are being made in lieu of money. He also expressed concern over the criminalisation of politics during the Badal regime and cited the murders of Congress activists in Ferozepore and Moga allegedly at the behest of the ruling combine. He also reminded the gathering of the Ludhiana rape case, involving the son-in-law of the Agriculture Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal.

Likewise, the president of the Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia charged the ruling Akali Dal with diverting public attention from corruption and other real issues by raking up controversies over religious matters. The Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader, Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann also gave a call to rid Punjab of corruption and official excesses. 

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