Sunday, January 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India 


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



EC issues warning to ministers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
In a sequel to the admonishment handed out to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for violating the Model Code of Conduct, the Election Commission has warned the central and state ministers from combining official tours with political tours or campaign.

The Election Commission, in a letter to Cabinet Secretary T.R. Prasad and the Chief Secretaries of all states going for the Assembly elections and byelections, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Punjab and Manipur, has asked them to advise the ministers in this regard and maintain a watch on them for any such violation and report to the commission about the same for necessary action.

The commission’s direction about six weeks ahead of the crucial elections, comes out of experience and also due to apprehensions expressed by some political parties about the possibility of ministers misusing official machinery to influence voters.

It may be recalled that the Election Commission has already warned ministers and others from moving in big convoys of vehicles and directed collectors to act against any violation.

Meanwhile, the commission stood by its decision to admonish the Punjab Chief Minister for going in a big convoy of vehicles from Chandigarh to Amritsar a couple of days back.

“We stand by our directive. It was given after taking into account all aspects,” Principal Secretary of the commission A.N. Jha told The Tribune.

Asked about complaints of irregularities in the electoral roll revision pouring in from Uttar Pradesh, Mr Jha said the commission was scrutinising all complaints and wherever action was necessary it would not hesitate to take.


Oppn parties resent code violation
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
There is a strong resentment among opposition parties in Punjab against the Election Commission of India for giving a “long rope” to the state government for blatantly violating the election code of conduct.

If the commission continues to dither to take a drastic action against the government, no one should expect free and fair elections in Punjab, said a senior Congress leader. “Our party has already apprised the President of India about the way the state government’s official machinery has enlisted bogus voters to help the SAD-BJP combine in the election”, said the Congress leader.

The CPI leader, Dr Joginder Dayal, said there was complete “akalisation” of a part of the administrative machinery which was blindly accepting the orders of the ruling alliance to help it in the elections. The commission should appoint a new team of officers in each district to ensure free and fair election. All those officers, who were behaving like party activists of the SAD-BJP combine should be shifted from districts.

Talking about the detection of bogus votes, another senior Congress leader said the commission should have given a strong jolt to the state government in this connection and also ensured the “on the spot” action against district administrations concerned. On the contrary, the commission gave ample time to the state government for crisis management.

For instance, the Congress leader said in case of Muktsar, the home district of the Chief Minister, the commission allowed a time of seven days to the state government to implement its order with regard to the transfer of the Deputy Commissioner.

The commission had issued the order on December 21 and had asked the government to implement it by December 28. Likewise, in case of Amritsar and Kapurthala, the commission had issued orders for the transfer of the respective Deputy Commissioners on December 27 and the government was given time till January 4 to implement the order.

There was no logic to allow such a long period to the state government by the commission to implement its orders. In fact, keeping in view the detection of the names of bogus voters in the voter lists, the commission should have told the government to implement the transfer orders within 24 hours and had appointed new Deputy Commissioners at these places after seeking the panel of names from the state government.

Even in the case of violation of the code of conduct by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on his way to Amritsar in a convoy of over 100 vehicles from Chandigarh, the commission has just given an advice to the Chief Minister through the Chief Secretary for cutting down the number of vehicles to the prescribed limit.

“The Commission after all has not been set up to give advice to those who violate the code of conduct. Its duty is to promptly act against those found to be playing havoc with the code framed with the mutual consent of all political parties”.

Commenting on the reply of the Punjab Chief Minister to the Election Commission through the Chief Secretary, Dr Dayal said that the Chief Minister had clearly tried to mislead the commission by furnishing a totally wrong explanation about his journey to Amritsar from here.

Dr Dayal said Mr Badal addressed several road-side election meetings while on the way to Amritsar. Even Mr Badal made an election oriented speech just outside the Golden Temple and there was nothing religious about it, Dr Dayal added. “It was not a pilgrimage to Amritsar but a serious election exercise clearly planned by the Chief Minister and his official machinery”, Dr Dayal said.

Urging the commission to “censure” the state government for the violation of the code of conduct, Dr Dayal said without promulgating the President’s rule in Punjab, free and fair election could not be ensured.


EC overreacting: Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 5
The Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals and general secretary of SAD, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, today said that the Election Commission of India was virtually overreacting to the reported violation of the code of conduct by the ruling SAD-BJP combine government and urged the EC to seek report from the state government before announcing any final order in this regard.

Mr Dhindsa, addressing a press conference here today, urged the EC to seek a report from the state government before announcing a final order, if there was any alleged violation of the code of conduct. “I along with the other two Lok Sabha MPs of the SAD had met the EC at Delhi and apprised the latter of the concerns of the government in this regard.

“We have always respected the guidelines of the EC which is evident from the fact that the Punjab Chief Minister had instructed all ministers and MLAs of the ruling combine to surrender their official cars, “Mr Dhindsa added.

He denied having met the former SGPC Chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, at Ludhiana yesterday to forge any unity among the Akali factions and Panthic Morcha. “Though we welcome all anti-Congress political parties to forge an alliance, yet there should be no preconditions for unity”.

When asked about the Akali candidates facing stiff competition due to the presence of Panthic Morcha candidates in the election fray, Mr Dhindsa said, “Actually, the Panthic Morcha will lose its base in the state if it will go ahead with the idea of contesting the elections on its own. Though there is possibility that Akali candidates may lose two or three seats in some areas, Panthik Morcha will not be able to win even a single seat on its own.”

Mr Dhindsa announced that the party had decided to shift its office from Chandigarh to Jalandhar till the completion of election process. The local office would be formally inaugurated by the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on January 11. Subsequently, the joint election campaign of the ruling combine would be launched by holding a political rally at the Partap Bagh grounds here on the same day.

The SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, said they had still not decided to stop sending jathas of Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan due to the ongoing tension on Indo-Pak border.


Election office seeks report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab Chief Electoral Officer has sought a report from the Secretary, Local Government on the presence of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Mr Sameer Kumar, at the reception of the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on Thursday and also on the use of municipal men and machinery in putting welcome banners at Phagwara the same day.

The newspapers had printed photographs of the two events indicating violation of code of conduct in operation since the announcement of the elections on December 26 last.

The state election department has also advised the Punjab State Electricity Board to hold in abeyance several promotions and transfers. At a meeting today, attended by the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr G S Cheema, and the Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Mrs Usha Sharma, only two promotions of the Chief Engineers were approved. The promotions held in abeyance numbered nearly 20.

In a separate meeting the officials from the Election Commission prepared themselves for the High Court case fixed for January 7 regarding transfer of three Deputy Commissioners and suspension of other officials.


Chapter of unity with Badal closed: Tohra
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, said here today that he had closed the unity chapter completely with the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal as he had refused to accept his two conditions for the unity in the Akali Dals.

Mr Tohra told this reporter that he had sought appearance of Mr Badal at Akal Takht to seek forgiveness for violating the ‘hukamnama’ of December 31,1999 issued by the Takht Jathedar and reinstatement of Bhai Ranjit Singh as jathedar of the Takht. Mr Tohra said,’ I have only religious agenda and I am not seeking any political saudebazi (political bargaining). The ‘hukamnama’ issued on December 31,1999 is a valid document which has been violated and the Akal Takht denigrated.’

Mr Tohra said that mediators including Mr Jaswant Singh Kanwal and Mr Jaswant Singh Mann had met him and he had given these two conditions for unity with Mr Badal and ‘I am not ready to give up these two issues. Mr Tohra said that he had not sought any intervention by the Himachal Chief Minister Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, nor had he asked for the visit of the Chief Minister Badal to his village. It was at the initiative of the emissaries of Mr Badal who suggested that he (Mr Badal ) should visit his village. ‘I told them that let Mr Badal appear before Takht and seek forgiveness and reinstate Bhai Ranjit Singh, I will go to meet Mr Badal’, he revealed. He said that he further told the emissaries of Mr Badal that visit of Mr Badal to his village would not amount to his (Mr Tohra’s) victory.

Asked if the Panthic Morcha leaders were taken into confidence Mr Tohra said that they would not oppose any compromise based on the two conditions put forward by him.

Mr Tohra said that the Panthic leaders were holding talks with Mr Kanshi Ram for finalising the seat-sharing.

Meanwhile the Panthic Morcha leaders held inconclusive talks with Mr Kanshi Ram at Jalandhar on Thursday and the talks could not be resumed on Friday.

According to Panthic Morcha sources the Bahujan Samaj party might be given 40 seats and majority of these would be accommodated in the Doaba region. Mr Kanshi Ram is understood to have told the Panthic Morcha leaders that he would want major share of seats as he had mobilised the workers and he visited all constituencies of the Vidhan Sabha in Punjab.


Clandestine unity moves’ irk Mann
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
Sharp differences have cropped up in the Panthic Morcha due to the on going “clandestine unity moves” between Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) and the ruling Akali Dal.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has said that the unity moves had caused severe setback to the Panthic Morcha. He said other partners in the Panthic Morcha were not taken into confidence before initiating such moves, he, however, said that he held Mr Tohra in high esteem, he being senior to him.

Mr Mann said that no individual had the right to talk of unity with a party which was allegedly responsible for the denigration of Akal Takht and Sikh institutions. He alleged that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was taking personal interest in causing split in the Panthic Morcha. He claimed that the ruling Akali Dal and the BJP high command were upset by the response given the Panthic Morcha by the voters. Mr Mann alleged that Mr Vajpayee had deputed Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal and Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister of Himachal and Haryana, respectively to engineer split in the Panthic Morcha. Personal astrologer of the Prime Minister, Mr Kedar Nath Sharma, was also deputed to help the Chief Minister of Haryana and Himachal to accomplish this goal. Coming down heavily on Mr Badal, Mr Mann said that the Panthic Morcha could not forge unity with the ruling party if at all, anybody wanted to take initiative to forge unity the entire Panthic Morcha had to be taken into confidence.

According to sources, many other leaders of the Panthic Morcha were also sore at the ‘clandestine unity moves’ ‘between the ruling party and the Tohra faction.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal held a meeting with one of the ‘mediators’ on his way to Tanda (Hoshiarpur). This was the reason that Mr Badal had to cancel his press conference scheduled for today morning.

According to sources, Mr Tohra also faced opposition from within the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal for reaching any rapprochement with the ruling party. They reportedly have said that if the unity materialised then what was the purpose of remaining out of power for three years. They are of the view that time had come to teach Mr Badal a lesson for parting company with Mr Tohra.

On the other hand Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor Uttaranchal tolled today to Mr Badal over the telephone. Both Akali leaders reportedly have discussed unity moves.


Proposed Cong-CPI pact runs into rough weather
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 5
The proposed Congress-CPI alliance in Punjab for the ensuing Assembly elections has run into rough weather due to the insistence of Congress workers to contest the elections from the Mansa and the Budhlada Assembly constituencies in Mansa district.

Congressmen in the district have devised the high command for bartering away these two seats to the CPI in the form of an alliance each time. They claim that their party can easily win these two seats even if the CPI fields its candidates while according to them the CPI has always managed to win these two seats only with the help of the Congress.

In 1992, Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, a former minister of Punjab and at present president of the District Congress Committee, defeated Mr Buta Singh of the CPI in the Mansa constituency. Mansa is an urban constituency having Mansa city and Bhikhi town in its fold and Hindus and Harijans who form a majority of the voters are traditionally supporters of the Congress.

In case the Congress high command decides to enter into an alliance with the CPI and gives these two seats to it a large number of Congressmen are likely to revolt and may contest the elections as rebels.

Some senior Congressmen of the Budhlada constituency, including Mr Bogh Singh Datewas, a former chairman of the Market Committee, Budhlada, Mr Megh Raj Goyal, a veteran Congress worker and Mr Gurdeep Singh Joian, vice-president, District Congress Committee and special invitee to the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, are ticket aspirants.


Cong men against Khanna seat to CPI
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
Fissures have appeared in the Congress-CPI poll alliance in the Khanna Assembly constituency with the local Congress leaders and workers not happy with the decision of the party high command of leaving the seat for the CPI. The local Congress leaders have threatened to field an independent candidate in protest against the poll tie-up.

In a protest against the national, as well as state Congress leadership, Mr Dharampal Angrish, vice-president, Block Congress Committee, has resigned from his post while a former organiser of the Punjab Congress Seva Dal, Mr Shashi Wardhan, has decided to sit on a fast unto death till the demand of reviewing the poll tie-up with the CPI was not accepted.

Mr Ashok Jindal, general secretary, District Congress Committee, Khanna, also attributed the outburst of leaders and workers to the decision. He said the workers were unhappy as the Congress candidate, Shamsher Singh Dullo, had won the the Lok Sabha elections from Ropar, under which the Khanna Assembly segment falls, with a margin of 12,000. This victory had pushed Mr Dullo’s defeat the state Assembly elections from the Khanna seat to the background.

Mr Angrish said as a Congress candidate had won the Lok Sabha elections which was most recently held, the party had a good chance of winning.

In his letter to the Congress President Ms Sonia Gandhi, he said that he was pained to learn about the seat-sharing and adjustment with the CPI for the Khanna seat and was resigning as he and other workers felt ignored. He called the tie-up as “unprincipled and opportunistic”.

Pact with Cong: CPI leaders ‘ignored’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
Rising in revolt against the state leadership, Mr Sukhchain Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh Dodhala, additional secretary, CPI expressed surprise over ignoring the Amritsar district while reaching alliance with the Congress party.

In a joint statement, issued here today, both leaders said except for Amritsar (west) which falls in urban area, the entire rural Amritsar was ignored. They alleged that the state secretariat of the CPI had no constitutional right to allocate party ticket as it was the prerogative of the state executive to take committee a final decision in this regard.

Mr Sukhchain Singh said that the district unit would present the case before the state executive committee meeting, scheduled for January 9 at Chandigarh.


Need to get Punjab degrees accepted in Canada
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
“There is an urgent need to get degrees granted by universities in Punjab accepted in Canada,” says Mr Gurmant Grewal, MP from Canada, and Foreign Ciritic for Asia and Pacific of the official Opposition, maintaining that a number of highly qualified Punjabi youth were not suitably employed overseas because their academic degrees were not accepted on their face value.

Speaking at a function organised by the Punjab Agricultural University Alumni Association (PAUAA) at Mohali Club last night to felicitate him, Mr Grewal said many of the Punjabi immigrants were doing extremely well. Mr Grewal is here on an official visit to SAARC nations.

Dr B.C. Gupta, president, PAUAA, said that success stories like those of Mr Grewal made the Punjabi community proud. He presented a memento to Mr Grewal on behalf of the association.

Mr Sikander Singh, Mr A. Puri, Ms Bir Gulati, Mr B. M. Sharma and Mr Jagtar Singh enlivened the proceedings by recalling their days at PAU. Also present at the function was Dr S.S. Bains, Director, Agriculture, Punjab.


Names of eight RRD candidates released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Indifferent attitude of both the central and state governments towards ex-servicemen was the major provocation for defence personnel and other like-minded people to get together to launch the Rashtriya Raksha Dal (RRD) some years ago, says its President, Col Harsharan Singh (retd).

Addressing newsmen after releasing a list of party candidates for eight Punjab Assembly seats here this morning, the Colonel said the strength of ex-servicemen went up by 40,000 every year.

“India is perhaps the only country in the world where ex-servicemen have no right to get treatment at Military or Command Hospitals. It is the sweet will of the Commanding Officer of the Hospital to allow or refuse treatment to a sick ex-serviceman. Invariably, it is not allowed. On the other hand, civilian employees of the Union Government are provided medical cover even after retirement. In case they prefer not to get treated at the CGHS hospitals, they are entitled to a medical allowance which is almost double than the similar allowance given to ex-servicemen. To remove such discrimination, we have decided to contest poll so that we also have a voice,” the Colonel said.

He also highlighted the case of 88 war widows living in the Nangal area who have been denied all benefits.

Earlier, Air Marshal G.S. Punia (retd) said even after 50 years of independence, things in the country were not what they should have been. The standards of education, health care and human resource development had been far from satisfactory. The economy was bad. Discontent had been on the rise. Rules were complicated. Even the corrupt and inefficient were never punished.

Lieut-Gen K.S. Gill said that the Rashtriya Raksha Dal had made a beginning by opposing the ruling dal candidate in the Majitha byelection last year. The idea was to let people know that “we also have some existence. We hope to do well this time,” he added.

Meanwhile, the RRD announced the following candidates for the coming assembly elections : Capt Harpal Singh (Chamkaur Sahib), Capt Sawitter Chand (Nangal), Lieut-Col Inderjeet Gupta (Pathankot), Sub (Principal) Kali Das (Narot Mehra), Swami Lekh Ram (Dinanagar), Hav Narinder Singh (Gurdaspur), Sub H.S. Sohal (Dhariwal) and Capt Sawarn Singh(Kahnuwan).


Rinwa’s grouse against SAD on seats
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 5
Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, state Punjab president of the BJP said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal president SAD (B) had announced the list of 43 party candidates without consulting the BJP. He said although the SAD (B) had announced candidates from 43 seats but the BJP could stake its claim on one or two seats on which the SAD(B) had announced its candidates. He said the BJP wished to put its candidates comprising of four members belonging to the SAD (B) and four members of BJP had been constituted. In addition to 23 seats, the BJP had contested in the previous elections it would like to contest from Budhlada, Sangrur, Ludhiana(W), Balachaur and Gurdaspur seats which earlier were contested by the SAD(B).

He was talking to pressmen at Narinder Pura village of Mansa district today. He said the unity of the SAD(B) with the Panthic Morcha further improve the prospects of the SAD-BJP combine in the elections and the alliance will bag more seats.

Replying a question Mr Rinwa said there was no differences in the rank and file of the BJP and nobody would oppose the official candidates. He claimed that the electorate would vote for the candidates of the SAD-BJP combine in the forthcoming election overall developments in the past five years.


SAD factions ‘bury hatchet’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
Sharing dais at the inauguration of the election office of Mr Baldev Singh Mann, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate from Dirba Assembly constituency, at Dirba today, both factions (Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa faction and Mr Surjit Singh Barnala faction) of the SAD in the Sangrur district indicated that there was now no factionalism in the district unit of the SAD.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals and Secretary-General of the SAD, inaugurated the election office of Mr Baldev Singh Mann, a protege of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Uttaranchal Governor. On the occasion leaders of both factions including Mrs Surjit Kaur Barnala wife of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, a Punjab minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Balia, a Punjab minister, Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi, administrative member of the PSEB, and Master Nachhatar Singh Jahangir were present. Besides them Thakur Jagdish Rai and Mr Prem Gugnani, president and general secretary respectively of the district unit of the BJP, respectively were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, leaders of both factions emphasised that they would contest all 10 seats of this district by rising above all types of differences as factionalism in the district unit was a thing of the past now. They also claimed that the SAD-BJP alliance would win all 10 seats.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said the SAD was still ready to patch up with the Panthic Morcha but it could not be materialised as the Panthic Morcha leaders were imposing conditions, including appearance of Mr Parkash Singh Badal at Sri Akal Takht, though Mr Badal had not committed any mistake or violated any edict of the Takht.

Mr Dhindsa also said the Panthic Morcha leaders were now helping the Congress indirectly by fielding the candidates against the SAD candidates. He said the Panthic Morcha would not be in a position of creating troubles in the way of the SAD in this district as the SAD was now united like a rock.

Besides, Mr Dhindsa, other leaders also addressed the gathering. Mr Baldev Singh Mann also thanked the leaders and the public for extending a full support to him.


CM promises master plan for border woes
Tribune Reporter and UNI

Khem Karan (Tarn Taran), January 5
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Chief Minister, Punjab, announced in categorical term that the SAD might have an electoral alliance with the break-away CPM group led by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla in the election for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. The announcement was made today by Mr Badal while addressing a gathering in this border township and at Khalra, Chabal and at Tarn Taran today when he had come to study problems of the border area people in the present situation arisen after migration from the area.

Mr Badal added that the party after finalising electoral alliance with the breakaway group of the CPM, the second list of the party candidates will be issued within next two days when election manifesto for the election would be released within a week.

Expressing his views on the problems of the border area people, Mr Badal informed that a master plan was to be prepared for a permanent solution to the problems of residents of the Indo-Pakistan border area after discussing the issue with the Union Government. The Chief Minister informed that for the care of the livestock, mobile teams have been sent to the area. Moreover, to help the people of the border belt namely the farmers, labourers, shopkeepers etc suitable measures will be taken so that they did not face any economic problem. He also assured help to the people who had migrated from the area. Mr Badal told that the government had decided to divide the problems of the border in to three categories for solution.

Mr Badal addressed gatherings at other places namely Khalra, Chabal and at Tarn Taran town. Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Minister for Co-operation, Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder member Rajya Sabha, Prof Jagir Singh Chief Parliamentary Secretary Punjab, Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, member, Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, Mr Ajay Pal Singh Meerakot, Mr Manmohan Singh Sathiala (both MLAs), Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pathoke, senior vice-president Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee and other party leaders too addressed the meetings. In spite of the rough weather the gathering at the meetings was impressive. Mr Badal reached this border township at nine in the morning and later left for Khalra, Chabal and then to Tarn Taran.

The aspirants for party ticket of the SAD showed show of strength at the meetings.

Mr Badal assured the residents of border villages that the government would consider their demand of insurance cover.

The residents of the villages along this Indo-Pakistan border had raised the demand for insurance cover in view of the rising tension along the border and with war clouds looming large over the horizon.

The residents pointed out that a majority of the families had migrated to safer areas with the Army taking up positions in the border.

Mr Badal during his inter-action said that he would call a meeting soon of senior officals to discuss the possibility of insurance cover for their livestock, property and crops. He said due compensation would be paid to those whose crops were damaged due movement of the armed forces.

Mr Badal also held similar interaction meetings at Bhikiwind, Khalra and Algaon Kothi.

hoshiarpur: Mr Badal supported unity among all factions of the Akali Dal.

“Our doors are always open for all the leaders who are keen to defeat the Congress,” Mr Badal said.

Formally inaugurating the election campaign of the Shiromani Akali Dal (B) at Tanda, 32 km from here, the Chief Minister criticised the leaders who allegedly were trying to mislead Sikh masses in the name of Sikh Panth.

“People of Punjab are fully aware about their misdeeds and will not taken be in their false promises,” he said.

Highlighting the achievements of his government, Mr Badal lambasted the Congress for its alleged misrule in the state and in the country.

Regarding the pending list of party candidates to be announced, Mr Badal said, “The remaining candidates of the SAD would be finalised within next two days.” 


Wadala meets Badal
ribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 5
Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, convener of the Punjab Lok Morcha and a former associate of Shiromani Akali Dal Chief Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday met Mr Badal with offer of unity.

Being close to Mr Badal for a long time, Mr Wadala severed ties with the former for some differences before the 1997 Assembly elections and floated Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic). Only two days back, the Lok Morcha, of which the SAD (D) is a constituent, an-nounced that it would contest 60 seats in the coming Assembly elections and Mr Wadala had been criticising Mr Badal for “non implementation” of various demands of Punjabis particularly the Sikhs.

Mr Wadala is believed to have made it clear to Mr Badal that as he had floated a party, a constituent of the morcha, it was difficult for him to effect a merger at this point of time, but at the same time that he was not averse to the idea of seat- sharing with the SAD-BJP combine. The meeting, according to sources, materialised following intervention by some Akali leaders close to Mr Badal and Mr Wadala.


4 BJP leaders charged with indiscipline
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
Mr Hans Raj Nakra, President Hoshiarpur, district unit of the BJP, stated in a press release here today that he had recommended to the party high command to take suitable action against Bharat Bhushan Handa, Mr Mohan Lal Dua, Mr Sat Pal Khurana and Mr Hari Dutt Kalia all local BJP leaders for participating in anti-party activities by holding meeting with Capt Vikram Singh member state executive committee of the BJP.

Capt Vikram Singh made serious charges against two BJP ministers for their alleged involvement in human trafficking and Hawala Racket. Mr Nakra urged the party high command that stern action against the aforesaid leaders would improve the party image and discipline the workers. He said that on his instance party high command had already served show cause notice on to Capt Vikram Singh.

He contracted the news item regarding show cause notice to Mr Tikshan Sud, State Minister for Excise & Taxation Punjab, by the party high command. He said the aforesaid a news item which appeared in a section of press was totally false and baseless. Actually, Mr Balbir Kapila, Vice President of the state unit of the party, told some newsmen that show cause notice to Capt Vikram Singh had been served for his anti-party activities whereas it was mentioned in the news item that show cause notice had been served to Mr Tikshan Sud. 


CM gets rousing welcome
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 5
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab was given rousing reception at Subhanpur chowk on the GT Road, 12 km from here by Akali Dal workers of the district.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, former president of the SGPC and sitting Akali MLA from Bholath, Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Punjab, Mr Mohan Singh, Anand, Mr Manmohan Singh Walia, Municipal Councillor, Mr Harbans Singh Walia member of improvement trust and Mr Jarnail Singh Dogranwala Director Punjab Marketing Board, were there to welcome Badal.

Later talking to newsmen Mr Badal said that the Punjab Government had sent a reply to Election Commission of India in connection with huge convoy of vehicles moving with him on way to Amritsar from Chandigarh. He clarified that there was no violation of code of conduct as no government vehicle was in the convoy. After taking serious note by the Election Commission today the convoy of Mr Badal included only twenty vehicles.

School children were brought from various government schools to waive Akali flag.


NCP to contest 50 seats
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 5
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will contest 50 seats in Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections in alliance with like minded parties, this was disclosed by Mr P.A. Sangma former Speaker, Lok Sabha and General Secretary of the NCP while talking to pressmen here today. He said a meeting of working committee of the party will be held at Delhi in which the list of candidates and election manifesto of the party will be released.

Earlier Mr Sangma addressed an election rally at Joga village of the district in favour of party candidate from Joga Assembly constituency Mr Surjan Singh Joga, former MLA. Condemning the attack on Indian Parliament on December 13 he said NDA government at the Centre has failed on all fronts. He said the political instability is the main problem being faced by the country.

He accused the Congress party of an attempt to make country’s Prime Minister to a foreign born Ms Sonia Gandhi which was opposed by the leaders of NCP.

Among others who addressed the rally were Mr P.V. Chidambram, national general secretary, Mr Kanwar Partap Singh, national secretary, Mr Sunny Thomas, general secretary of the youth unit of the party, Mr Sarwan Singh state president and Mr Gora Lal Hajewala district president.


Betting on poll hots up
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 5
Punjab is in the grip of betting fever. The punters have staked crores on anything ranging from the fact that which party will form the next government in Punjab, which candidate will get Congress ticket from a particular constituency and how many seats the CPI will be able to win.

Even as the election scene is still hazy in Punjab, most of the bets are being made on the names of the prospective Congress candidates who have been camping at Delhi for the past fortnight. After the declaration of the Congress-CPI poll tie-up, the punters have started staking on which party will form the next government. The money is also being pumped on the bets which are being made on the fact that whether the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) will enter into an electroal alliance.

Those who have put their money at stake, have been in regular touch with their “contacts” at Delhi to know about the front runners for party tickets. Even the bets are being made on the fact that which leader, including the PPCC president, Mr Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and the Convener, Congress Parliamentary Group (Punjab), manages to get major chuck of party tickets.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that cricket bookies operating from Mumbai, Delhi and other parts of the country, had diverted their attention to the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha elections as they had been finding it easy to secure enough business from election bets.

The bookies and small-time operators through a mutually accepted contact were accepting the bets even from strangers.

The information further revealed that crores had been put at stake as many heavyweights were aspirant of tickets of different parties.

Most of those, who had been making bets, were worker of different parties. In the Nawanshahr, Majitha and Sunam byelections, even some of the ruling politicians also made bets on the outcome.

This region comprising Bathinda, Faridkot, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar and Ferozepore district, witnessed a little betting on the elections as the punters were expecting Indo-Pak war. After the announcement of dates of polling in Punjab and other states, the “satta” markets started humming with activities.

Though the police authorities have geared up for the menace of “satta”, the business of bets was going on everywhere in a clandestine manner. The punters have been using the cellphones having sim cards of the Delhi region to avoid detection.

Lower the chance of getting ticket of any candidate, higher is the return in satta market. If a candidate attracts large bets on his or her chance of getting ticket, the bets on his victory will fetch less amount to the bet layers, while on the other hand if any candidate has low chances of getting ticket and he or she gets the same, those who have laid bets in favour of his or her chances, will get large amounts in return.


Work begins on Swan bridge
Lalit Mohan

A long-standing demand of residents of Anandpur Sahib tehsil has finally been conceded. Construction work has been started on the bridge over the Swan near Alagran village in the Nangal area.

Officials said here that the 450-metre bridge would be completed at a cost of about Rs 15 crore. The project is being financed by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) and is expected to be completed within 11 months.

With the construction of the bridge the distance between areas surrounding Nangal and places like Ludhiana and Jalandhar will be reduced by 20-30 km. Besides,new road links will be opened to several areas of Himachal Pradesh. It will also save about 10,000 acres of agricultural land on the banks of the Swan.

Engineers undertaking the work said they would first have to “canalise” the river for the construction of the bridge. This would not only save agricultural land which earlier fell in the course of the river but also prevent the flooding of various areas during the monsoon.

The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in 1997. However, the construction work was inordinately delayed due to the unavailability of funds. The PIDB decided to provide funds for the project last year following which the initial survey and the necessary technical formalities were completed. 


SGPC to acquire rare ‘hukamnamas’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, has said that he would send a team of officials to persuade the Sikh in Bihar to hand over rare handwritten ‘hukmnamas’ of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Tegh Bhadur which were in their possession.

Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, president, Takht Patna Sahib Committee, said the rare handwritten volumes of Guru Granth were also in possession of Sikhs, who were inhabitants of a cluster of seven villages.


Commuters prefer pvt buses
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, January 5
Private buses offering concessions in fare to commuters are causing losses to the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) and the Punjab Roadways in this part of the Malwa region.

The people who travel daily to reach their offices or business establishments prefer to do so by private buses as the owners of these offer a concession of up to 25 per cent in fare.

More than 12 private buses are plying on the roads of the Malwa region without any permit. Mini-buses also take away a major share of commuters in rural areas. Although higher officials of the Transport Department are aware of this illegal plying of buses, no action has been taken to curb the practice.

Although the state government has at times taken action by seizing buses of private companies being run without permit, it has not been done consistently, thus allowing the practice to grow and spread in the state.

The other major factor contributing to the losses suffered by the PRTC is the poor condition of buses. A number of PRTC and Punjab Roadways buses are not being used due to their dilapidated condition. These can be seen standing in various depots of the PRTC and Punjab Roadways.

Moreover, private buses owning permit are providing better services to passengers. The private companies ply new buses which are in a good condition, thus making the journey comfortable.

These private buses, also include the buses owned by the family of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Buses owned by other politicians and ‘influential’ transporters can also be seen plying on roads in the name of various private companies.

Though private transporters raise a hue and cry over the increasing rates of diesel and vehicle tools, they are providing concessions in fares. Under the unannounced “daily passengers scheme”, private buses are giving a rebate of up to 25 per cent to commuters. The passenger just has to utter the word “daily” while purchasing the ticket to avail the concession.

According to a survey done by this correspondent in the region, private buses are charging Rs 15 for a journey to Kotkapura from Bathinda instead of Rs 20, Rs 20 instead of Rs 27 for the trip from Barnala to Bathinda, Rs 10 instead of Rs 13 for Bathinda to Talwandi Sabo and Rs 5 instead of Rs 7 for Bathinda to Goniana Mandi and Bathinda to Bhucho Mandi.

Due to the concession and the good condition of buses, the number of passengers of PRTC and Punjab Roadways buses is decreasing, thus affecting their income. Only the buses which are new or plying on long routes or are under a scheme launched by the government are earning profit.

A higher official of the PRTC said the corporation was contemplating introducing ways to check the practice of illegal plying of buses. 


Dalit Sena men burn Pak flag
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
Members of the Dalit Sena today burnt the Pakistani flag in protest against the involvement of the neighbouring country in spreading terrorism in India.

The members also staged a march which started from the local Teachers Home and passed through the main bazaars of the city before concluding near the district courts. The effigy of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan flag were burnt near the local bus stand.

Leaders of the Dalit Sena urged party workers to be ready for making sacrifice in case a war broke out between India and Pakistan. They urged the leaders of various political parties to forget their differences and fight for the unity and integrity of the nation.

The Dalit Sena demanded that the security personnel who had died during the attack on Parliament House should be given the status of martyrs and their families should be given suitable compensation. The leaders demanded that one family member each of these personnel should be given a job.

They said Pakistan was unduly interfering in the affairs of India and it should stop doing so.


Governor uses torchlight to see paintings
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
The Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), today took the help of torchlight to have a closer look at miniature paintings in the art gallery and priceless medals in the medal gallery in the Sheesh Mahal complex here.

The Governor, who visited the arms and chandelier museum in the Quila Mubarak complex as well as the art and medal galleries in the Sheesh Mahal complex, mentioned about the inappropriate lighting system in the galleries in the visitors book also. His quote read “it is a priceless and unique collection. Can the lighting be improved?”

The Governor was overheard talking about the lighting arrangement during the visit to Sheesh Mahal, saying words to the effect “there is no lighting, how can I see it”. Officials present on the occasion, however, made torches available to the Governor so that he could have a closer look at the paintings and medals which caught his fancy.

Earlier during his visit to the museum in the Quila Mubarak complex, Lt-Gen Jacob showed particular interest in the “buggy” (carriage) of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, which was used for ceremonial occasions by the former Maharaja. The carriage, which is made of silver, has posts on all four sides in which candles were affixed to provide necessary light. It is still in a reasonable good condition.

Other objects which interested the Governor in the Quila Mubarak museum were the sword of Nadir Shah which is kept in the museum besides the ornately decorated silver gates besides the Rajasthani Chitrakali used to decorate wall surfaces.

At the Sheesh Mahal, the Governor asked about the number of visitors coming to the museum as well as Art Gallery situated there. He also instructed officials about the need to provide proper facilities at the site in order to attract tourists later at the Circuit House. These include the need to provide proper drinking water facility to the tourists.

Gen Jacob, however, did not visit the Quila Androon in the Quila Mubarak complex during the visit, which is in urgent need of attention. This is because out of the only three painted chambers left in the complex which can be restored partially to their former glory, only one has been partially restored by conservationists of the National Conservation Laboratory of Lucknow. After few stints at restoring the paintings in the ‘masnad’ (crown) chamber, the conservationists have not returned to Patiala for the past more than two years.

Other parts of the Quila Androon, including its main facade, the ‘’mahal’’ built for Florence, the only English ‘rani’ of the Patiala State, and other painted chambers are in such a bad state that if nothing is done to conserve these, they may deteriorate beyond redemption.



Bitta for NDA govt to end terrorism
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, President, All-India Anti-Terrorist, Front, said that first of all elimination of internal terrorism was required only then external terrorism could be controlled. Mr Bitta was talking to mediapersons at Lajwanti Tourist Complex here today on his way to Rajouri (J&K). He said POTO had lost the basic thing to deal with terrorism. Very harsh law was required to completely wipe out internal and external terrorism. Special Army Courts should be constituted to dispose of terrorists cases within a period of four months and their decision should be made final. Referring to the Indian government’s demand for handing over those terrorists wanted in various cases in India and are presently operating from Pakistan, Mr Bitta said there was no use to being them back in India. In the absence of any strict law they would be releated by courts and further create problems for the country. He advised all the leaders of political parties to avoid petty party politics and create spirit of nationalism among them and unitedly face the situation and lead the country towards peace and prosperity.

He pointed out that on account of telecasting Army action during the Kargil war, dozens of Indian soldiers had been killed by Pakistani Army for various security lapses exhibited on televisions.

Referring to those terrorists presently in Indian jails, he said that there shifting was required immediately from their present place of imprisonments. He strongly criticised all leaders of political parties for their eagerness about the elections of various state assemblies.


TSU dharna on January 10
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
Members of the Technical Services Union (TSU) of the Punjab State Electricity Board will organise a dharna on January 10 in Rampura town of the district to press the authorities to accept its demands.

In a press note of the union issued here today, it was stated the authorities concerned were not implementing the decisions of the agreement reached between the Power Minister and the office-bearers of the union seven months ago.

The union alleged that the officials were not implementing the decision under some considerations. They alleged that the officials of local and Rampura offices of the PSEB were not paying any attention to the demands of the union.


Improvement Trust defers interview
Our Correspondent

Phagwara January 5
The local Improvement Trust has postponed interview pertaining to the selection of six Class IV employees to be held on January 7.

Congress men today claimed that the trust had to postpone the interview because block Congress (urban) president Ashok Prashar had lodged a complaint with Election Commission. Mr Prashar had said the holding of the interview was a violation of the model code of conduct.

However, Mr Om Gupta, chairman of the trust, said the interview had been postponed by the trust of its own accord and not on any complaint.


Doc’s notice to Health Director
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
Dr Ajit Pal, Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Bathinda, has sent a legal notice to the Director, Health Department, Punjab, for not providing him the details regarding his general provident fund (GPF).

In a press note issued here yesterday, Dr Pal said for the past many years he had not been provided details about his GPF by the office. He alleged that the office was not working properly and employees were harassing people and indulging in bunglings. He sought an inquiry into these alleged bunglings.


Online voter I-cards
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
People in the district will no longer have to wait in long queues to get their voter identity cards as the online system for making these has been introduced in Bathinda.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr R. Venkatratnam, in a press note issued here yesterday, said with the introduction of the online system, the voters could get their I-cards within an hour. He added that the system had been set up at the local Circuit House and the I-cards would be made from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all week days.


Primary education in a mess
Tilak Raj Gupta

Lack of infrastructure in imparting primary education in this district has adversely affected all children in the 6-14 age group.

The district lacks adequate buildings and there is a large number of vacancies, which remain unfilled for several years. Basic amenities like provision of chalk, blackboards and tables are conspicuous by their absence in primary schools.

According to official sources, in spite of 270 appointments made in primary schools during December, more than 400 JBT teachers’ posts, 350 posts of head teachers, 25 of centre head teachers, are lying vacant in this district.

Posts of Deputy DEO and five Assistants are lying vacant in the office of the DEO (Primary) for more than two years. All posts of block primary education officers, numbering 12, are also vacant.

Many primary schools are functioning without buildings. Most of the existing buildings are in a dilapidated state. Where schools have buildings, they mostly leak when it rains causing a suspension in teaching. Most primary schools have no boundary walls and have become a shelter for cattle and dogs. The provision of laboratories for female teachers and students has not drawn the attention of the power-that-be.

These sources say there are complaints from schools with a strength of two or more teachers that they attend schools on alternate days. Surprisingly this practice is in the knowledge of the authorities, but nothing is being done. There are cases of “appointment” of proxy teachers on meagre salaries by regular ones in the interior of the district.

These sources point out that government patronage to primary schools by the SAD-BJP Government in reality has been lacking in its initial four years rule. Funds have not been provided for the uplift of primary education, the back-bone of the education system.

This year a sum of Rs 18 lakh was received by the district for the construction of 20 school buildings in assembly segments of Kahnuwan, Fatehgarh Churian, Dhariwal and Sri Hargobindpur.

The district has total of 1553 schools and the provision of this meagre amount in view of the number of schools is insignificant and is unlikely to improve the infrastructure.

These sources say there is a practice particularly in the sub-montane and backward development block of Dhar Kalan to appoint contract teachers in primary schools. Since the panchayats of the area do not have a source of income, it has become difficult for them to pay teachers. As a result, the scheme has failed and most of the primary schools of the area are functioning without teachers.


Teachers not paid salaries in Ropar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Teachers of all recently upgraded government schools in Ropar district have not been paid their salaries for the past three months, says Mr Satwant Singh Gill, president of the Gazetted Educational School Services Association, Punjab.

Mr Gill said in a written statement that though in all 1404 schools were upgraded throughout the state and teachers of upgraded schools in the rest of the state had been drawing their salaries regularly, the same was being denied to the teachers of Ropar district because of the adamant attitude of officials of the District Treasury Office of Ropar.

Mr Gill said that salary bills of upgraded government schools of Ropar were not being cleared by the District Treasury Officer despite of clearance from the Finance Department and clarifications issued by the higher authorities concerned.

Mr Gill said that drawing and disbursing powers of heads of upgraded schools were until December 31. As such the chances of the teachers of these schools getting their salaries in the New Year were bleak. He urged the government to intervene and ensure that the salaries to the teachers were disbursed without any further delay.


Schools not given grant
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
Mr Surinder Singh Gill, Principal, Khalsa Senior Secondary School, here has alleged step-motherly treatment to the aided schools during at the two-days seminar on National Green Corps and these were not given the grant sent by the Central Government for the participating schools.

Mr Gill in a press note issued here today said that under the scheme all schools participating in the seminar were to be given equal grants. But he said that his school which was one of the old institutions of the city, was ignored while giving the grant.

He claimed that some of the schools which had not participated in the seminar, would be given the amount of grant as the cheques for such schools were already prepared. He said that some of the science teachers of other schools had asked the authorities concerned not to discriminate between aided and government schools.

Mr Gill has urged the higher authorities to look into the matter and hold an inquiry so that the guilty officials could be punished.


85,000 students to be enrolled in NGC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
The Union Government has prepared an ambitious plan to enroll students of various schools in the National Green Corps (NGC) in all states of the country to create awareness about bio-diversity, pollution, ecology and tree plantation.

Dr Satnam Singh Ladhar, Principal, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST), while talking to this correspondent said about 85,000 students from various schools of the state would be enrolled in eco clubs. He said 100 schools each from 17 districts of the state had been selected and the teachers in charge of the eco clubs were being trained.

About 85,000 students from 1,700 schools of the state would be enrolled in the first phase of the drive. Dr Ladhar was here in connection with a two-day seminar, which concluded today, on the formation of eco clubs.

Dr Ladhar said the plan had been prepared by the Union HRD Ministry in association with the Union Ministry for Forest and Environment Conservation. The nodal agency in the state would be the PSCST. The selected schools had been given initial funds of Rs 1,000, required resource material, handouts, posters and other material.

The disbursed funds in the first phase were to be utilised till the end of this financial year, he added.

Stressing the need for such a programme Dr Ladhar said to maintain ecological balance at least 33 per cent of forest cover was needed. The forest, agriculture and the pollution control departments had been brought together to help implement and monitor the programme.

The participants would be given training about the varieties of the saplings to be planted. At least one hour per week would be spared in the school timetable for the activities of the eco clubs. For proper coordination these clubs had been divided into various clusters and monthly compliance reports would have to be filed with the district officers, he said.

Ms Gurwinderpal Kaur Dhillon, District Education Officer (S), in her inaugural address said the NGC would be set up on the lines of the NCC and the NSS. The NGC cadets should be given weightage as was being given to the NSS and NCC cadets, she said.

Mr Sohan Lal Goyal, District Science Supervisor, said Bathinda was the first district in the state to start such a programme. He gave details of the various plans of the state government chalked out for improving environment.


119 ETT candidates get appointment letters
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
Mr Jaswant Dani, District Education Officer (Primary), said here today that appointment letters had been issued to 119 ETT and B.Ed candidates.

According to a press note, the letters had been issued as per the guidelines of the state Education Department.


ATM facility inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
The ATM facility was inaugurated at the local Civil Lines branch of the State Bank of Patiala by Mr Amitabha Guha, Chief General Manager of the bank today. Mr Guha said it was the 25th ATM installed so far by the bank. He said in Bathinda zone only two ATMs have been made operational — one in the city and other in Faridkot.

He said the installation of the ATM would help residents in a big way as they could withdraw money at any time 24 hours a day.

Mr Guha said efforts were being made by the bank authorities to give the facility of “anywhere banking” to its customers.

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