Monday, June 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Congress targets Dalit voters
Amarinder promises them free power
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 3
Even as a former Punjab Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, chose to blow her own trumpet by criticising the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for the registration of a case against her, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, did not utter a single word on the issue but assured Dalits and backward classes that in case his party came to power he and his government would take care of their interests by extending special facilities and incentives to them.

The PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, and other Congress leaders at a “chetna rally” organised by the Punjab Congress at Pratap Bagh in Jalandhar on Sunday.
The PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, and other Congress leaders at a “chetna rally” organised by the Punjab Congress at Pratap Bagh in Jalandhar on Sunday. — A Tribune photo

Addressing an impressive “SC, BC chetna rally” at Pratap Bagh here today, both Congress leaders tried their best to pose publicly that there was no factionalism in the Congress’ state unit and they would fight the next Assembly poll unitedly.

Referring to the registration of a case against her pertaining to the alleged misappropriation in the Chief Minister’s fund, Mrs Bhattal said she was not scared of the case and rather challenged Mr Badal to get her arrested in case he had the courage to do so. Actually, Mr Badal is trying to malign me, but my best judge is the public, which knows that I am untainted,” said Mrs Bhattal, urging Congress workers and the public to fight out the “corrupt” SAD-BJP combine government.

Mrs Bhattal earlier alleged that Mr Amarinder Singh never said a word to her about the registration of the case against her. This was, however, denied by the PPCC President who said he was never informed by the former about the development.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Congress had always worked for the betterment of the Dalits and the backward classes and criticised the SAD-BJP government for “ignoring” these two classes. “The Congress has been standing guard to their interests and it has been the guiding principle for the party that the nation cannot develop unless the development of the Dalits is not assured. On the contrary, the ruling SAD-BJP government has abolished all pro-Dalit welfare schemes and has even stopped giving scholarships to bright Dalit students,” he said.

He said Mr Badal had started “roaming” in villages under the garb of sangat darshans which were nothing but a fraud. “Where was he for the past four years?” he asked.

Capt Amarinder Singh promised to disburse surplus land among families of Dalits and backward classes if his party was voted to power in accordance with the recommendations of the 51-member committee formed by him last month.

“We will also offer government job to one member of each such family,” said Capt Amarinder Singh while promising that if the Congress formed the next government it would waive loans up to Rs 5,000 extended to the SCs and BCs, besides ensuring revival of the yellow card scheme. He said his party would provide free power to Dalits and backward classes. He said his government would abolish the octroi system in the state and would generate alternative income sources. He said the PPCC was in the process of revamping the education system in the state and a committee comprising three former Vice-Chancellors had already been formed.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, alleged that the SAD-BJP government was pursuing “anti-Dalit” policies by withdrawing most facilities extended to the Dalits and the backwarded classes during the Beant Singh regime.

The Phillaur MP, Mrs Santosh Chaudhary, said the people could prevent any government from wrongdoings.

Those present on the occasion included a former Haryana Governor, Mr Mahavir Prasad, former Punjab minister — Mr Avtar Henry, Mr Opinder Sharma, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Mr M.S. Kaypee and Mr Umrao Singh, besides Mr Amarjit Samra, Mr Kanwaljit Lalli, both MLAs, and the Punjab Youth Congress chief, Mr Davinder Babbu, and the PPCC Secretary, Mr Tejinder Singh Bittu.


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