Monday, November 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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PM’s 1500-cr largesse for Punjab
Sarabjit Dhaliwal & Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 18
Living up to the expectations of the SAD-BJP Government in Punjab, Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, here today announced development package of more than Rs 1,500 crore for the state.

The package, includes concrete proposals worth Rs 1,322 crore and a Software Technology park at Jalandhar, which according to sources, will cost Rs 200 crore. Mr Vajpayee’s package mostly is meant for urban areas.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, centre, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, right, and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah join their hands at the concluding day of bicentenary coronation celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Amritsar on Sunday. — PTI photo

Mr Vajpayee, reportedly on the advice of the SAD-BJP Government, has tried to woo urban electorate by announcing sewerage and drinking water proposals worth Rs 201 crore for urban centres besides a separate proposal for sewers and water of Rs 40 crore for Amritsar. Other proposals include, Rs 450 crore for the four-laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar-Wagah road and Rs 10 crore for building houses for the poor. The Union Urban Development Ministry has approved Rs 121 crore for certain other development schemes for urban areas in the state

Mr Vajpayee handed over the documents pertaining to the approval of the urban schemes to the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in absence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who could not attend the function as he had a fracture in the morning. After addressing the meeting, Mr Vajpayee also informed Mr Dhindsa and others that he also had cleared a proposal worth Rs 500 crore pertaining to the Shahpur Kandi canal project. Addressing the huge public meeting, Mr Vajpayee said efforts were being made to build a new India and special attention was being paid to develop Punjab on modern lines.

Upset over the absence of Mr Badal at the meeting, Mr Vajpayee prayed for his early recovery.

On Afghanistan, Mr Vajpayee said that India was set to play a crucial role in the rehabilitation and development of the war-torn country. Hoping that war in Afghanistan would end soon, Mr Vajpayee said that India’s relations with Afghanistan were rooted in the centuries old history. He said that following the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to that country 500 years back, Sikhs settled there in large numbers afterwards. Later major part of Afghanistan remained part of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kingdom. To further press the point of India’s deep connection with Afghanistan he referred the famous “Kabuliwalla” story of Rabindra Nath Tagore. In a way, Mr Vajpayee, tried to convey the message to all concerned that the India’s participation to determine the future of that country was fully justified and relevant. He said that Kabul had been freed from the control of evil forces.

The Prime Minister said that the Sikhs, who had migrated from Afghanistan, would be rehabilitated in that country after the situation normalised there. Many people, including Sikhs and Muslims had to leave that country because Taliban were committing excesses against them in the name of religion.

Coming to the Kashmir issue, Mr Vajpayee said that people in Kashmir had started waging a war against terrorism. Kashmiris, who had been fed up with violence, have started fighting the terrorists. He said earlier Punjabis, played a crucial role to stamp out terrorism from Punjab.

Paying warm tributes to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Mr Vajpayee, said that a comprehensive book should be published about his secular rule. There was a need to educate the countrymen about the achievements of Maharaja during his 40-year rule.

In Mr Badal’s absence, his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh, read out his message at the meeting. The Chief Minister in his message said that following in the footsteps of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the SAD-BJP Government in Punjab promoted and consolidated Punjabi unity. Efforts were again being made to disturb such unity but the Government was determined to expose the forces behind such a design.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President of the SGPC, welcomed Mr Vajpayee and his cabinet colleagues to the meeting. He said that the Badal-Vajpayee combination had proved good not only for Punjab but also for the country.

Mr Dhindsa, showering praise on Mr Badal said the gathering at today’s public meeting was an indication that people in the state were behind the SAD-BJP Government. Projecting, Mr Badal, as Chief Minister, for the next term, Mr Dhindsa appealed participants at the meeting that they should pledge today to elect the SAD-BJP Government for the next five years. He said that Mr Badal had created environment congenial for the development of the state.

Earlier, Haryana Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala, and his counterpart Prem Kumar Dhumal, said that they would extend full cooperation to the SAD-BJP combine in the Assembly elections. Using strong words against the Congress, Mr Chautala urged the people of Punjab that they should give a crushing defeat to the Congress. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister, Jagmohan, Punjab Minister, Balramji Dass Tandon, President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Brij Lal Rinwa, General Secretary of the SAD, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Vice-Chairman of the Minorities Commission, Tirlochan Singh also spoke.

Prime Minister, who earlier laid the foundation stone of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, said Rs 40 crore would be exclusively spent on solving the water shortage in the holy city of Amritsar.

He said Rs 122 crore would be utilised in the state under the Rs 10,000 crore Balmiki Ambedkar Malin Basti Awaas Yojana announced by him on Independence Day.

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SIDELIGHTS
Kanwaljit Singh ignored?
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 18
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab and general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal who has been coordinating bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation from day one felt ignored today. Capt Kanwaljit Singh was not invited to address in the presence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. However, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a Rajya Sabha member, personally went to Capt Kanwaljit Singh and took him to the dais. After a while Mr Kanwaljit Singh came down from the stage.

PM ignores security

Throwing security precautions to wind, the Prime Minister travelled by road to Rajasansi airport from the private hospital where he had gone to see Mr Badal. He did so against the advice of this security staff. Local police officials had a difficult to time providing the security cover to the PM.

His convoy passed through narrow lanes dotted by potholes. To have a glimpse of the Prime Minister, hundreds of people had gathered on rooftops near hospital. Patients in the hospital had a harrowing time because of the visit.

Bole so nihal!

An interesting highlight of the Prime Minister’s rally on the occasion of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was that each speaker rounded off his speech with a call of ‘Bole so nihal’.

Punjabi rules

Except the Prime Minister, all speakers, including the Chief Ministers of three neighbouring states, addressed the gathering in chaste Punjabi.

Farooq gets kirpan

Dr Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, unsheathed the kirpan gifted to him and exhorted people to fight Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in his state.

BJP flags

Incidentally, the call for unity was missing. Only BJP flags adorned the pandal with a lifesize cutout of the Maharaja.

3 CMs stay away

Only three Chief Ministers and a few Cabinet Ministers turned up for the celebrations though six Chief Ministers and 25 Cabinet Ministers were to attend the function.

Vajpayee ji Atal

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC chief, in his address referred to the Prime Minister as “Vajpayee ji Atal”.

No water

The audience were put to a lot of inconvenience when security personnel did not permit them to go to the toilets. Besides, shortage of drinking water and scarcity of food led one among them to cry out “pani pilao” (give water to drink) to a call of ‘Bole so nihal’. Many among the audience were seen sleeping.

Pandal full

The pandal, the largest-ever erected in the country with a seating capacity of 4 lakh, was almost full.

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