Saturday, March 10, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Rush, gusto missing at Hola Mohalla
CM: don’t disrupt Budget session
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, March 9
While the Punjab Chief Minister and the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, chose the birthplace of the Khalsa and the occasion of Holi to appeal to the Opposition not to disrupt the Budget session of the Assembly any further, the tone and tenor of leaders at various political rallies held here today made it clear they were not only targeting the ensuing elections but also the government .

All eight political rallies, virtually featuring the top political leadership of the state, were held simultaneously but the usual gusto, rush and enthusiasm was missing.

The Punjab Pradesh Congress chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, declared that his party would oppose the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in any future election in the state. The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal leadership wanted Mr Badal to appear before Akal Takht while the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, assailed the Shiromani Akali Dal for its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) was critical of the government and its policies and accused it of failing to keep its poll promises .

Undoubtedly, the rally of the ruling SAD was the biggest. Prominent political leaders of other parties, including former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, Union Civil Aviation Minister, Sharad Yadav and Union Communications Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, besides two Congress leaders, Moti Lal Vora and Ambika Soni failed to keep date with their party workers.

Among those present were SGPC chief, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mrs Satwant Kaur Sandhu, Mr Tara Singh Ladal and Mrs Mohinder Kaur Josh — Punjab Ministers, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MP, and Mrs Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal from the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann from the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Capt Amarinder Singh, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Mr Malkiat Singh, Mr Gurkirat Singh, Mr K. K. Bawa, Mr Avtar Henry and Mr Bir Devinder Singh Babbu, all from the Congress, and Mr Kanshi Ram of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The SAD speakers used restraint in their speeches and avoided individual attacks on either rebel Akali leaders or leaders of the opposition, though attacks on the Congress were scathing.

Mr Badal blamed the Congress for the problems of unemployment, illiteracy and poverty in the country and held that after Independence, it had resorted the divide and rule policy with the sole objective of remaining in power.

He said the Congress whether in power at the Centre nor at the state, was never sincere towards Punjab. Referring to the river waters dispute, he said it was a global convention that only riparian states had the right on waters of rivers passing through their territories. The Congress government at the Centre had discriminated against Punjab by allotting its river waters first to Rajasthan and then to Haryana.

The Punjab Chief Minister said during the 45 years’ of the Congress rule at the Centre, not a single major project — a new rail link, an international airport or a major industrial unit had come up in Punjab. The Centre took money from the state and never invested it back. He also talked about the Thein Dam and how it was ignored during the Congress rule. Similar was the fate of the Shahpur Kandi project the foundation stone of which was laid by the Congress Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao. The last Congress government in Punjab had left behind a whopping loan of Rs 8400 crore.

He said it was unfortunate that during the Budget session which was an important occasion to discuss issues and new programmes the Opposition parties have resorted to “disruptionist” activities by not allowing a debate on Governor’s Address. He appealed to the Congress and other parties to contribute positively and allow the session to proceed.

Reacting to his criticism by the SHSAD leaders, Mr Badal said: “I don’t know for what sin they want me to appear before Akal Takht?”

Ridiculing the criticism of PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh that EVMs were responsible for the Congress defeat in Majitha he said these were the same EVMs “which got his wife and Jagmeet Singh Brar elected to the Lok Sabha. It’s like casting aspersions on the brave people of Majitha that they were won over by poppy husk and liquor”.

The Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, expressed concern over the reported move of the government to hand over the task of procurement of foodgrain to states, saying this would affect Punjab in a big way. He said the Punjab Government was opposed to the WTO agreement.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi said a special movement against apostasy among Sikh youths was being initiated with the help of Yogi Harbhajan Singh of the USA. Sending jathas to Pakistan and printing Guru Granth Sahib alone were other decisions taken by the SGPC after he took over. 


Cong to oppose use of EVMs
Lalit Mohan

Anandpur Sahib, March 9
The Congress will not allow the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the coming Assembly elections in the state. It alleged the ruling party had won all byelections by “pre-programming” the EVMs. The Election Commission should ensure that the EVMs were not tampered with or the Congress would approach court.

This was stated by the President of the PCC, Capt Amarinder Singh, talking to newspersons here today. He was here to attend a political conference on the occasion of Hola Mohalla.

The Congress was ready to face election any time. Capt Amarinder Singh said though the party was open to alliance with any secular party, it had not received any offer from any party so far. Two senior Congress leaders, Mr Jagmeet Brar and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, were conspicuous by their absence at the rally. Capt Amarinder Singh said they might have been busy elsewhere. The party was united and there was no dissidence, he said.

Earlier, speaking at the rally, he criticised the Centre’s decision to stop the procurement of foodgrain through the FCI. The state would not be able to cope with the bulk purchase and sale of foodgrain. This would shatter the economy of Punjab. The Badal government was surrendering the interests of the state by failing to oppose the move of the Union Government, he said.

Capt Amarinder Singh also criticised the Centre’s policy of not allotting power projects to those states which offered free electricity to farmers. This would hit the farmers who were already burdened following the reduction in subsidies on various farm inputs.

He refuted the claim of the Haryana Chief Minister that 50 per cent of the electricity produced at the Ranjit Sagar Dam should be given to Haryana, saying that Punjab did not have extra water. The state was already facing a power crisis, he said.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, General Secretary of the PPCC, criticised the Central Government for failing to increase the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat. The Congress had brought peace to Punjab, however, certain policies of the present government were aimed at disturbing that peace, he alleged, adding that the economic progress of the state was being hit by the rampant corruption in the present regime.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, General Secretary of the PPCC, brought up the issue of Anandgarh, saying that when the Congress proposed it, all Akali parties had opposed it on the plea that villages would be uprooted due to the proposed city. However, now the Badal government was itself uprooting over 100 villages for the project.Back

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |