Thursday, February 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

RS poll: Badal not to issue whip
Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
“No whip will be issued asking MLAs belonging the SAD-BJP alliance to vote for its candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal”. This was made clear tonight by the SAD President and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Talking to Tribune News Service, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who was accompanied by senior BJP leader, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, said there was no need to issue the whip. “ MLAs belonging to the alliance are politically mature and responsible persons “, said the Chief Minister.

However, the CM has made an appeal to all MLAs to vote for the alliance candidate, Mr Sukhbir Singh. When asked whether he was also making an appeal to rebel party MLAs, the CM said ,” yes, I am making an appeal to them”. In fact, he said, it was his duty as Head of the SAD to seek vote for the party candidate from all MLAs entitled to vote in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for electing the candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat.

The polling for electing the candidate for the Rajya Sabha will be held tomorrow in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. The other candidate in the contest is Mr Manjit Singh Khaira, an independent. As the SAD-BJP alliance has a comfortable majority in the Vidhan Sabha, Mr Sukhbir Singh’s victory is certain. In fact, now the only interesting aspect of the contest will be the number of votes secured by Mr Manjit Singh Khaira.

The Congress today announced that its MLAs would not take part in the polling tomorrow. The CPI had earlier announced that its two MLAs would abstain from the Vidhan Sabha on the polling day. Mr Khaira will be depending completely on Mr Ravi Inder Singh, who is spearheading the campaign against the Chief Minister, to secure votes tomorrow from MLAs.

When asked about the meeting with the MLAs of the alliance at the Punjab Bhavan this evening, the Chief Minister said several issues, including some pertaining to the Budget, were discussed at the meeting. He said MLAs raised issues pertaining to their constituencies and what they wanted done as a part of development work in their respective areas. It is significant to mention here that the meeting was called by Mr Parkash Singh Badal on the eve of the polling for Rajya Sabha seat.

He said each MLA would get Rs 1 crore as a development grant for the next financial year for carrying out development works in his or her constituency. He said it was continuation of the earlier scheme. Besides, each MLA would be allowed to get 20 km new road constructed in his or her constituency.

In fact, most issues raised at the meeting were directly related with the general Assembly election due early next year. The CM said all cases of old age pensions would be cleared and beneficiaries would get pensions in time without any break. Likewise , there would be complete monitoring of the shagun scheme and payment would be made to beneficiaries within a stipulated period.

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