Thursday, February 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Feeling the heat, parties talk of hung House
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
The ruling SAD-BJP alliance has begun preparing for a post-poll scenario of a hung Punjab Assembly in which no party or combine commands a clear majority in the 117-member House to form a government of its own.

The Punjab PCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and general secretary of the SAD, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, are keeping a close watch on the rapidly changing situation and monitoring developments and updating information every 24 hours with the help of partymen.

While Congress leaders continue to be upbeat about the electoral prospects of their party and are sure that they would form the next government in the state, the Akalis insist that the Congress leadership seems to be out of touch with the reality at the grassroot level.

The unexpected and aggressive advertisement campaign launched in newspapers by the Congress against the Chief Minister and his son, accusing them of corruption and bartering away the interests of Punjab, appears to have shocked the Akali Dal. Initially, there was considerable confusion in the party leadership as to what its response should be. As a matter of fact, the Akali Dal had based its electoral strategy on the plank of development undertaken by its government in the state during its five-year rule. It has been now forced to revise its strategy. The Akali Dal has hit back with its own set of equally aggressive advertisement campaign against the Congress leaders. It has also slapped a Rs 5-crore defamation suit against the Congress leaders.

The coming days may see a further rise in the political temperature in the state, with the Akalis inducting victims of anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in the election campaign of the Akali Dal and pursuing Capt Amarinder Singh with a set of uncomfortable questions wherever he goes.

According to the assessment in the Akali camp, notwithstanding the propaganda barrage unleashed by both the main contenders for power, namely SAD-BJP and the Congress-CPI, about the clear edge they claim to enjoy in the run-up to the elections slated for February 13, both the sides seem to be running neck and neck at present. Under the circumstances, sources in the Akali Dal say, they expect the two sides finish with a tally of about 50 plus seats each.

A large of number of Akali and Congress rebels who are now contesting as Independents and are proving to be a serious headache for the leaderships of both the parties, could be elected to the Assembly. It will be they who will hold the balance and the key to the next government in the state, it is contended. The Akali sources estimate that their number could be between 11 and 15.

This is what has forced the leaderships of the two parties to take a rather ambivalent stand towards the rebels. Although many of them have been expelled both by the Congress and the Akali Dal, there have also been broad hints that the situation would be reviewed after the elections. As a matter of fact, the Akalis are watching the situation so closely in constituencies where party rebels are also in the fray that if they found the rebel to be going stronger than the official candidate, they would not hesitate to switch sides at the eleventh hour and ensure transfer of party votes to the rebels on the polling day.

While the Congress claims that a pro-Congress wave is sweeping the state, the Akali leaders contend that there is no such wave. As a matter of fact, the initial euphoria which was witnessed in the Congress ranks at the beginning of the election campaign, has evaporated, thanks to a variety of factors.

It is pointed out that the Congress took its own time in allotting ticket to party hopefuls. As a matter for fact, for nearly a fortnight, the entire PPCC was campaigning in Delhi last month while the Akali bandwagon had already begun rolling in the state. The first list of party candidates which was “leaked” to a section of the Press led to false hopes among a few partymen while creating a lot a heartburning among many more. The final list when it was released created its own set of problems and led to widespread rebellion which the party leadership has now been able to resolve. Allegations of money playing a role in the distribution of tickets levelled by Congressmen themselves also took some sheen off its leadership.


Bhattal, Brar leave Captain alone?
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
With former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal embroiled in litigation on account of corruption charges and the other senior leader Jagmeet Singh Brar preferring to stay away from electioneering, the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Capt Amarinder Singh, seems to be doing it alone everywhere across the state. The PPCC president is also trying hard to dispel the notion that he cannot be a good campaigner.

Sources close to the PPCC president apprehend that Mrs Bhattal and Mr Brar may be staying away from the campaigning as they think that the party high command has decided to project him (Capt Amarinder) as the chief ministerial candidate. Both the leaders are conspicuous by their absence in the Congress campaign.

Although Mr Jagmeet Brar had announced he would join the campaigning after being made co-convener of the Campaign Committee of the PCC, Mr Brar is yet to be noted at a public rally outside his own parliamentary constituency. He is also emphasising that only the elected legislators can decide as who should be the Chief Minister.

Capt Amarinder Singh’s supporters who already describe him as, “the Chief Minister in waiting”, have been alleging that certain vested interests within the party have been trying to sabotage the party prospects from within. They even argue that both Mrs Bhattal and Mr Brar by staying away from state campaign have already forfeited their claims to chief ministership.

However, the PCC president has reportedly taken it as a challenge upon himself and decided to do it alone. He starts his day early in the morning and takes off in his chartered helicopter moving across the far and wide corners of the state. He has been covering about 10 to 12 assembly segments daily, without any halt. Besides, he keeps on having the feedback from all the constituencies from the District Unit presidents.

Buoyant over some recent surveys indicating a Congress victory, the Captain has been seeking to underplay the dissidence in his party.


Cong pooh-poohs SAD’s claim on progress
Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 6
The Congress think tank has chalked out a strategy, which will be executed in the final round of the electioneering, to attack the SAD-BJP election plank pertaining to the development of the state.

“In the first phase, we have attacked the SAD-BJP government by making corruption the main issue. That was to rattle the SAD-BJP leadership. As this strategy has worked well we will stick to it,” says a senior Congress party strategist.

The Congress top brass is of the view that the best way to blunt the election campaign of the SAD-BJP led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the rural areas is to counter the development plank on which Mr Badal has been relying most to seek votes.

Another member of the party think tank, Mr Ashwani Kumar, Chairman of the All-India Vichar Vibhag of the Congress and former spokesperson of the AICC says that the party will tell people that Mr Badal had done nothing extraordinary for Punjab.

Pavement of village streets and roads in the countryside are routine work for which funds are available and every government has been doing so. Mr Badal has done nothing different on the development front from the previous Congress governments.

What has Mr Badal done to improve education at school, college and university levels, he questions.

Mr Kumar says that even the conditions of roads in the rural areas is not that good which is being projected by Mr Badal. “One should travel in the countryside to find out the reality,” he adds.

The real development of the state is gauged from the development of human resources and other social indicators. From being the number one state in the country a few years ago, today Punjab is behind even states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra as far as the overall progress of the states is concerned. Punjab’s economy is in shambles, he says.

Neither has Punjab achieved no distinction on the education and health fronts. In fact, the state had earned the dubious distinction of being among to the toppers as far as killing the girl child is concerned.

In the use of drugs like poppy husk, opium etc, Punjab has become number one. It’s social index, which reflects all-round development, presents a dismal scenario.

By remaining confined to the “street vision” of development practiced by Mr Badal, Punjab, a state inhabited by sturdy farmers and progressive people, cannot compete with others in a new world economic order that has set a new agenda for all development minded countries, says Mr Ashwani Kumar.

He says that as the party high command was involved at every step, including the finalisation of manifesto and election strategy pertaining to Punjab, it would ensure that the commitments made with the electorate by the party are implemented within a specific time frame.

He agrees that without extensive industrialisation, it is not possible to solve the problem of unemployment, adding that the Congress has a definite plan for the industrialisation of the state.

The SAD-BJP government failed to capitalise on the information technology revolution sweeping developed world, he added.


Women get power...on paper only
Kanchan Vasdev

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
For almost four years now, some ‘lucky and clever’ husbands of ‘sarpanchanis’ have been ruling in certain villages in the district as proxy village heads, as the womenfolk, forced to contest the panchayat elections due to 33 per cent reservation for women, preferred staying indoors. The campaigning for the Punjab Assembly elections has not made any difference for these women as their hubbies are now indulging in proxy campaigning on their behalf.

‘‘Tuhadi Sarpanch bhainji ne jo vee kam kita pind vaaste, oh sab tuhade harmanpyaare minister sahib de ahsirwaad kar ke hi se’’ (The lady sarpanch brought development in the village with the support of the minister). This is one such claim made by a former sarpanch in a village near Pakhowal. Alluding to the works done by the ‘sarpanchni’, he demands votes for the candidate of the ruling party in his election campaign.

The scene is the same in the election campaign of an opposite party but with a difference in the reason for demanding votes. It says, ‘‘Tuhadi sarpanch bhainji chahden hoye vee kam nahi kara saki kyonki oh opposition party nal see. Is karke is vaari tussi ohna de hath majboot karo ’’ ( The lady sarpanch could not do much development work for you as she belonged to the party in opposition, so you bring her party to power this time ).

A visit to a number of villages like Pakhowal, Tusse, Dango and adjoining villages falling under the Kila Raipur and Raikot constituency reveals the progress made by women village heads. There virtually exists a Rabri Devi in every village as the women are still confined to the four walls of their homes.

One husband of a village head, preferring not to be identified, said the 33 per cent reservation was not by choice but was forced on them. He was the village sarpanch and after the reservation, his wife stood for elections. She won because of his clout in 1998 and he has been working as the proxy head of the village as societal norms do not changed by mere reservation.

‘‘ Now, we are accompanying a candidate from door and door and talk about the works done by the sarpanchani, even though she does only the household work,’’ he confesses with a sheepish grin on his face, adding that it was a convenient middle path between the legal and social requirements.

A sarpanchni living on the outskirts of Pakhowal even though her village was about 10 km away, says, ‘‘I have come to this developed village as facilities here are better than in my village. My husband goes to the village to do the Panchayat work.’’

When asked why she was not actively involved in the work, the woman frowned and retorted, ‘‘Do you expect me to visit police stations and be available at any hour for the public? This is not possible for me’’. She poses a counter question, ‘‘And what difference does it make ? My husband is doing all the work.’’

The condition is the same in several other villages. The media had highlighted this state of affairs a couple of years ago, questioning the government claims of the uplift of women in the state. It was hoped that after a few years, the condition would change. Going by the participation level of these women in the elections which is a direct indication of the real uplift in their lives, one can safely say that the time of women empowerment is yet to come.


Act against PR man, orders EC

Chandigarh, February 6
The Election Commission today asked the Punjab Chief Secretary to look into the reasons for no action taken against Public Relations Joint Director B.I.S. Chahal, for alleged violation of election code, despite its directives to the state Information Secretary in this regard.

Expressing resentment in his communique to Chief Secretary N.K. Arora, CEO G.S. Cheema has expressed dissatisfaction over the way in which the Information Secretary reacted to the directives for disciplinary action against the senior PR official.

“The CEO has now written to the Chief Secretary for ensuring appropriate action against the Joint Director,’’ additional CEO Usha Sharma told newsmen here.

Even as the CEO had yesterday asked Information Secretary D.S. Guru to take disciplinary action against Mr Chahal, Mr Guru this morning constituted a panel which would look into certain facts by viewing the video cassette submitted as a proof against the senior PR official.

“We (CEO) were just informed by the Information Secretary that the Joint Director had been served a show cause notice,’’ she said. UNI


Farm problems need attention
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Punjab should exercise caution while welcoming the decision of the Union Cabinet to remove various restrictions in the agricultural sector.

Ostensibly, the aim to remove controls — licensing of dealers, restrictions on the movement of foodgrains, limits on stocks and storage, etc. — which only hampered the growth of the agricultural sector, including the development of the processing industry, was to ensure its faster growth in a rapidly changing economic order.

As per the new measures announced on Tuesday, if free trade and movement will enable farmers to get the best prices for their produce, it will also be in the interest of consumers, particularly the ones in the lower income bracket, countrywide.

What do these steps mean in real terms to Punjab and states similarly placed, say Haryana and western UP?

A former chairperson of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices and economist, Dr S.S. Johl, told TNS from Palampur today that the government, in the larger interest of agriculture, must not wash its hands of issues having announced these steps. The impact of the removal of restrictions will be felt after a few years. But to achieve what is intended, it is imperative that private trade must be encouraged to develop the necessary infrastructure and wherewithal to take on the new responsibilities enabling it improve its financial, storage and handling capacities; gradually, over a period of time, say five years.

The system relating to the fixing of the minimum support price for foodgrains, procurement and public distribution has developed inefficiencies and corruption and become a burden on the state. Yet, this system has served the nation well and is still required for food security and providing the poor access to food. Therefore, Dr Johl said, the withdrawal of restrictions and controls could not be allowed to create a vacuum. Trade must be helped and fully rehabilitated till the requisite alternative system became operational. The big companies expected to enter must have adjustment time. That alone would help protect the interests of producers and consumers. Contrarily, it would lead to create ‘’unrest’’ among farmers.

The second important aspect to which Dr Johl drew attention was the need for enabling farmers go in for ‘’quality’’ agriculture with ‘’timely’’ farm operations to draw the maximum benefits. Take paddy, for instance. Right from quality seed to quality milling, all operations needed to be monitored and farmers/millers educated in the quality aspects to compete in the international market, where prices are down.

More than two-thirds of Indian farmers are small and marginal having very small marketed surpluses (with only a negligible or no marketable surplus). They cannot be left to the mercy of private trade and the vagaries of the market. Hence, the need for assuring market and price support to them till an effective, alternative system was developed. Trade, too, must be enabled and encouraged to participate in the disposal and distribution of farm surpluses to ultimately make farm produce cost effective.

A frigid economic approach had already resulted in huge stocks of over 42 million tonnes, causing a serious problem of unbearable holding and storage costs, wastage and pilferage, inconvenience to producers and agents, corruption as well as serious difficulties in disposal and market clearance. Most of these problems beset Punjab, which has a staggering foodgrains stockpile, valued at Rs 16,000 crore.

Therefore, the political executive that comes to power after these elections, will have to first attend to the problems of agriculture. By the time the new government is formed, wheat, too, will be ready for harvest. The minimum support price and the procurement of wheat will be the first tests of the next government.

(To be continued)


A poet in dialogue with the world
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Softness and subtlety come naturally to him. Words flow from his mind just as water flows through the stream, purging itself of dirt every now and then. And even before you enter into a formal introduction with the man, you already know what his worth is.

Rajvinder Singh is not just a poet; he is almost an institution in the making. His credits may sound immense for his age, but they are still meager going by the way his intellect is growing. Humility, however, keeps its place in this man, who is better known as the poet laureate of Germany for the year 1997. With six German books already to his credit and about three more in the pipeline, Rajvinder quite well-deserves the rare honour.

Settled in Berlin for the past 21 years, Rajvinder has been in a continuous dialogue with the world through poetry. Communicating through poems has always been a passion with this man, who traces his interests to his childhood days at Kapurthala. Words are still the same as they were two decades back. “Only the concerns they voice have altered a little,” said the poet laureate, who spoke to The Tribune in Chandigarh on his way to Kapurthala.

The term “globalisation” has always intrigued Rajvinder, who is still struggling to measure its dimensions, as seen in the modern context. As the poet said, “I never quite understood this business of globalisation of markets. I am a man dedicated to the arts and I know how much difference can art make to the world. I am here to achieve a globalisation of humanity. To me this is the only thing which makes sense. The rest is a sham.”

As the conversation rested upon how the world had been dissected into fragments, Rajvinder was led back in time. “I still remember the year 1972 and the entire Moga agitation. I am a product of that agitation. I remember myself as a rebel poet, but I could be easily distinguished from a Naxalite poet. My aim was never to hit upon anyone. I was only voicing the feelings of the masses. That is what I still do,” he said.

As of now, Rajvinder’s prime concern is his work in the German language. Many of his German books have been translated into Spanish and many other European languages. The poet specified, “It is most important to relate to your immediate surroundings. I am working on three projects currently.” The first, titled Jenin, is about the timelessness of woman. Rajvinder’s heroine is 276 years old and he uses her character to portray the woman’s transition from one age to another. The work is a tribute to the gender. In fact, Rajvinder chose the title Jenin because it sounds somewhat like Jaan in Urdu. The other book is about Rajvinder’s idea of self culture, while the third one, which he calls a magnum opus, is titled Seven Ages of Man. “This is the story of my family for the last five generations,” he said.

Currently in India on a mission funded by Cultural Department of the Foreign Ministry of Germany, Rajvinder is promoting his 73 poems put together under the collection titled Ghar te parvaz — sargam. The work will be released at Punjab Kala Bhavan, Sector 16, Chandigarh on February 10. “I have travelled 46 countries and every time I visited a new place I felt blessed to be a part of the multi-cultural society that India is. We are a cut above the rest who cannot sensitize with things the way we can. My poetry covers all that I felt while I walked the alien roads.”

But more than that, Rajvinder’s poetry is about communication with the surroundings. The tone is simple, lyrical and metaphorical. As he says, “I am a lyrical poet and all my poetry has a hidden meaning. I never imagine my audience but I am always writing for people. A poem that cannot communicate is a failed poem.” No wonder Khushwant Singh pitted Rajvinder Singh’s literary works alongside those of Amrita Pritam and Shiv Kumar Batalvi in his work titled “Declaring Love in Four Languages”. One of Rajvinder’s couplets that featured in the collection underlines his worth as a human. He writes in Punjabi:

“Tu hove pahadaan ton digdi nadi; vich toda baraf da main tarda hovaan;

Main khur kur ke kul muk jaavaan; ainj husn tere vich kul jaavaan.... "

Coming from a rebel poet, these words mean something. But as Rajvinder clarifies, “I am a poet of humanity and love is basic to humans. All my works thus have human dimensions. My thinking has never been confined to ‘isms’. There was a time when people called me a feminist poet. I cherished those times also. Now people relate widely to my works which are essentially contextualised in time. I am very true to my time. Social, political and historical movements concern me.” And truly so, as another couplet by Rajvinder confirms: Maikde chon nikalde san rind kaike anal haq; bahar soro gul si mandiraan masjidaan de giran da...

From 19 years of age when his first book titled ‘Raat Lammi Zindagi’ was published, Rajvinder has come a very long way. After taking a post graduate degree in Punjabi literature from Jammu and Kashmir University, Rajvinder left for Germany where he studied linguistics, English and American literature. He later also taught in a University there.

After all that has come his way, Rajvinder is still yearning, just as a true artiste would. But finally there is only one rule which can govern him — the golden rule of unity which will ensure that he is not branded as a Punjabi or a German; which will make the world belong to him for all seasons.


Aviation Minister addresses rally
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bhucho Mandi , February 6
The Union Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Shah Nawaz Hussain, today claimed that the SAD-BJP alliance would form the next government in Punjab.

Addressing a rally in support of the SAD-BJP candidate from Nathana, Mr Gura Singh Tungwali, here, he said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had restored the glory of Punjabis, which was damaged by the previous Congress government.

He said Mr Vajpayee and Mr Parkash Singh Badal had worked building a good image of the Punjabis.

Mr Hussain said the people of the state were aware of the tactics of the Congress and communal card played by it during the last elections would not work this time.

He said the alliance between the BJP and the SAD was not only a political partnership but a unity of hearts and harmony between members of different religions indicated the success of the alliance.


Give NCP a chance, asks Sangma
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, February 6
Top Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, Mr P.A. Sangma, asked the voters here today to give the NCP a chance in the coming Assembly elections in Punjab as both the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance had failed to come up to the expectations of the people.

Mr Sangma was addressing a gathering in Phase XI here in support of Mr Bhupinder Singh Laddi, the party candidate from the Kharar Assembly constituency.

He said the SAD-BJP alliance in the state would not be able to get many votes this time as the people were not happy with it. At the time of the last elections they had promised to fight for the victims of the 1984 riots but they did nothing.

Even the image of the Congress party, which had played a major role in getting freedom for the nation, had suffered a setback.

The Indian National Congress had now become “Italian National Congress” and many Congress leaders wanted Mrs Sonia Gandhi to become the Prime Minister of the nation.

Mr Sangma said the country did not belong to one family. Crisis had arisen within the Congress party as many leaders did not want Mrs Sonia Gandhi to become the Prime Minister. He said he worked for the party for 25 years and when he opposed the proposal of making Mrs Sonia Gandhi the Prime Minister he was expelled from the party.

Politics of India could not be monopolised by one family. People should not allow the “videshi Congress” to rule the nation. P.A. Sangma could not become the Chief Minister of Punjab. Only a Punjabi should become the CM of the state, he added.

He said a leader like him had started his journey from a village and it took him 40 years to reach Delhi. But a Congress leader started the journey “from 1, Safdarjang Road then shifted to 10, Janpath and now was eyeing the Prime Minister’s residence.”

He said now there was a need to bring about a change in the leadership. His party wanted to bring about industrialisation in the state as it would generate employment.

Meanwhile, a large number of industrial workers organised a cycle rally here today in support of the Congress candidate, Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

The rally was flagged off from the Phase I barrier by Mrs Navjot Kaur, wife of the Congress candidate.


Sunam HQ of SAD-BJP: Badal
Sumer Garg

Sunam, February 6
Terming Sunam town as the headquarters of the SAD-BJP alliance, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal expressed hope that the voters of the Sunam assembly constituency would make Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa successful in the Assembly elections. He said the victory of Mr Dhindsa would help in maintaining the status of Sunam town as the headquarters of the SAD-BJP alliance.

Mr Badal was addressing an election rally organised in support of Mr Dhindsa, SAD candidate from Sunam, at the New Grain Market here last evening.

He said besides hitting the country of Punjab, the Congress also made an attack on Harimandir Sahib and caused anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

Mr Badal asked the people to vote for SAD on the basis of its performance and development works executed by it through out the state during the past five years.

Mr Dhindsa asked the people that they should vote for SAD for bright future of the state. He said their verdict in favour of SAD would further change the destiny of the Punjabis.


Personal relationships score over symbols
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampuraphul, February 6
This prestigious Assembly segment dotted with big and small towns and various historical villages and touching Moga and Sangrur districts is witnessing a different type of election this time as the personal relations and behaviour of the contestants, and not the party symbols, have been influencing the opinion of more than 1,38,000 electors.

Though the old contestants, including former minister and Congress candidate Harbans Singh Sidhu and sitting MLA and SAD-BJP alliance candidate Sikander Singh Malooka are in the fray, the presence of Akali rebel Gurpreet Singh Kangar as an Independent candidate has made the contest interesting. There are nine candidates in the contest, including Mr Nachhattar Singh Sidhu of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) and Mr Surjeet Singh of the BSP.

Though Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has pumped crores of rupees in this segment in the past five years by releasing various grants under the “sangat darshans” and other heads, a major section of electors have been feeling the pinch of police atrocities committed on them and their implication into false criminal cases at the instance of certain politicians.

Mr Kangar, who became the sarpanch of his native village, Kangar, at the age of 26 and then a member of the Zila Parishad at the age of 28, has been seeking votes from the people by promising them freedom from the rule marked with atrocities and cruelty.

Mr Sidhu, who started his campaign late as compared to other candidates as he was allotted ticket after the poll alliance between the Congress and the CPI was forged, has been banking on the anti-incumbency factor and raising the issues relating to the failure of SAD-BJP government in the past five years. Mr Malooka has been seeking votes on the development carried out by the Punjab Government in the past five years. Mr Badal has not visited this Assembly segment so far, whereas former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal addressed a rally in support of Mr Sidhu on February 4.

Mr Sidhu, LBP candidate and Mr Surjeet Singh, BSP candidate, have been raising the issues pertaining to corruption and the failure of the Punjab Government.

The other factor, which has made relations between SAD and BJP sour, was an incident relating to last municipal elections that took place in January, 1998. The BJP candidate in ward number 16, Ms Renu Bala, facing the SAD candidate, Ms Raj Singla, had managed to win despite a tough opposition from Mr Malooka. Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, the BJP MLA from Amritsar, who came to campaign for Ms Renu Bala, openly levelled allegations against Mr Malooka for making a mischief in the municipal council elections.

The transfer of three police officials of different police stations and police chowkis located in this segment by the district police authorities for their alleged role in violation of code of conduct is also being taken as a major setback to the Akalis by the electors.

Rampuraphul, known in the state for its tea market and thrasher-manufacturing industry, has also becoming a sensitive seat as a major section of voters have been apprehending large-scale violence on the day of polling.


Brahm struggles to put act together
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 6
Elections force even the greatest to eat humble pie and the same seems to be true for former Punjab Minister Brahm Mohindra. From being a one-man army who always won on his own from the Patiala seat and excelled in cocking a snook at the Congress party machinery as well as successive Chief Ministers, circumstances have forced the former Minister to seek the help of the party as well as bete noire Pradesh Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh who ousted him from the Patiala seat to Samana constituency.

Mr Mohindra is finding the going extremely difficult in the neighbouring constituency of Samana in which he is pitted in a multi-cornered contest against NRI supported Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Surjit Singh Rakhra, Panthic Morcha candidate Jagtar Singh Rajla and dissident Congressman Harinderpal Singh Mann. This time Mr Mohindra has had to change his election strategy by asking for the support of the PPCC chief as well as his wife, Mrs Preneet Kaur, and the District Congress Committee.

Sources said what had apparently ruffled Mr Mohindra's feathers were reports that the PPCC chief's brother, Raja Malvinder Singh, who was also a candidate for the party ticket, had advocated the cause of the SAD candidate to supporters. Following this the former Minister approached the PPCC chief and asked him to make the party rank and file fall in line.

Though the PPCC chief has reportedly asked the party machinery to participate in his campaign and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur addressed his first rally in the election at the Diesel Component Works (DCW) Colony yesterday, their contribution to his campaign is still to be seen.

Though he was able to induce former MP Sant Ram Singla, also an aspirant for the party ticket and the only Congressman to win the seat in 1980, to travel to the constituency by his side during the first few days, even Mr Singla is absent from his campaign now. However, Mr Mohindra has the silent support of the Congress voter in his favour. He is concentrating on Tripuri township comprising of refugees settled there after Partition in Patiala town as well as the outer colonies of Patiala which fall in the Samana constituency besides Samana town itself.

Mr Mohindra's main rival, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra of the SAD, has had a headstart over him as he has been campaigning in the constituency since many months after being assured of the SAD nomination. Mr Rakhra has been instrumental in the distribution of grants of Rs 8 crore through a number of Sangat Darshan programmes.


Always a Congress stronghold
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
With a few exceptions, the four assembly segments in this industrial town — Ludhiana East, West, North and Rural — have remained a Congress stronghold. Even when there were apparent strong anti-Congress waves in the State, this city still managed to send three Congress MLAs in 1985 and one in 1997.

LUDHIANA NORTH: Mr Sardari Lal Kapoor, who was once Health Minister in the Congress Government in the State had won this seat thrice —1969, 1972 and again in 1980 — while Mr Rakesh Pandey, a son of former Punjab PWD Minister, Mr Joginder Pal Pandey, won this seat for the last two consecutive terms — 1992 and 1997. In the last elections, he was the only Congress nominee to win any city seat for the party. In between, this seat went to Mr Kapor Chand of the Janata Party in 1977 when the anti-Emergency wave was at its peak. In 1985 when the Akalis swept to a clear majority on their own in the State, Mr Sat Pal Prashar of the Congress had retained this seat.

This time Mr Rakesh Kumar Pandey is defending his seat against Mr Pran Nath Bhatia of the Bharatiya Janata Party supported by the Shiromani Akali Dal. Others in the fray are Mr Harbans Lal (Independent), Mr Om Parkash (BSP), Mr Pawan Kumar (SS), Mr Bhim Sain (SP) and Mr Tarlok Chand (Independent).

According to Mr G. Rakesh Kumar, Returning Office, this constituency has 1,40, 499 voters and 156 polling booths of which 36 are very sensitive.

LUDHIANA WEST: It was Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal of the Shiromani Akali Dal who broke the Congress stranglehold on this seat in the 1997 elections. With the exception of 1977 this seat has remained with the Congress.

Though Mr Grewal has now shifted to Kila Raipur as a candidate of the Panthic Morcha, the fight is between a former Speaker, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, and a winner from here on two previous occasions — 1985 and 1992 — and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Others in the fray include the President of the Ludhiana District Bar Association, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, an Independent and a strong contender. Mr Ravinder Singh (BSP), Ms Rajinder Kaur Bulara — a former MP and a nominee of the Panthic Morcha — and Mr Harminder Singh (Independent) are the other contestants in the fray.

Mr Joginder Pal Pandey won this seat on the Congress ticket in 1980 after Mr Vishwanathan (Janata) had represented this constituency in the Vidhan Sabha in 1977.

There are 1,55, 625 voters in this constituency, says Mr Vimal Kumar, Returning Officer. The constituency has 165 polling booths of which only one is very sensitive.

LUDHIANA EAST: Mr Om Parkash Gupta of the Congress had completed a hat-trick of triumphs from here by winning this seat in 1977, 1980 and 1985. And for the past two terms it has been with Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and a nominee of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Will Mr Gosain be able to emulate Mr Om Parkash remains to be seen.

Opposing Mr Gosain this time are Mr Surinder Kumar Dawar (Congress), Mr Jit Singh (Panthic Morcha), Mr Iqbal Singh Bhullar (Independent), Mr Parveen Kumar (Shiv Sena) and Mr Jai Pal (BSP). This seat has a fairly good sprinkling of migrant labourers.

It has 1,16, 255 voters. According to Mr Prem Chand, Returning Officer, there are 131 polling booths in this totally urban seat of which 28 are very sensitive booths.

LUDHIANA RURAL: This biggest assembly constituency of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha has several distinct features. Though it is called a rural seat, it has more urban, including migrants, than rural voters.

Its mammoth number of 3,54,845 voters is almost three times the number of voters in the neighbouring Ludhiana East constituency. According to Mr S.S. Ghuman, Returning Officer, this constituency has 327 polling booths of which only 30 are ‘‘very sensitive’’.

In 1977, Mr Dhanraj Singh of the Akali Dal had defeated Mr T. Singh of the Congress while in the 1980 election, Mr Bir Pal Singh of the Congress won from here. In 1985 during the Akali wave, Mr Jagdev Singh Tajpuri was a winner from here. In 1992, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi of the Congress won. In the last elections, Mr Hira Singh Ghabria of the Shiromani Akali Dal won with a huge margin. This time he is seeking re-election but as a nominee of the Panthic Morcha. And opposing him is a former Ludhiana MP, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi (Congress) is another strong candidate here.

Others in the fray are Mr Abdul Sakur (Independent), Mr Tarsem Singh (Independent), Mr Sunder Lal (CPM), Mr Sanjeev Kumar (Independent), Mr Mehak Singh (Independent), Mr Parminder Singh (SS), Mr Kartar Singh (LJSP), Mr Gurmail Singh (BSP), Mr Rajinder Prasad (RJD), Mr Bhupinder Yadav (Independent), Mr Paramjit Singh Sodhwan ((LBP) and Mr Vijay Mahajan (Independent).


Reviving economy to be Cong priority
Tribune Reporters

Sardulgarh, February 6
“If voted to power, our first priority will be to bring the shattered economy of Punjab back on the rails by reducing expenditure and pruning the security cover to ministers and officers. The difference would be felt in the first six months, claimed Capt Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief.

He was in the city to address a gathering in favour of Congress nominee Ajit Inder Singh Mofar. This is also the hometown of Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, SAD general secretary and party nominee. The former had defeated the latter last time. Present on the occasion were Mr Kirpal Singh Makha, DCC president, Mr Hardayal Singh Mofar, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and other leaders of the party.

Talking to TNS, he asserted that a Congress wave was sweeping the state and the party would form the government. On the economic front he said wrong economic policies pursued by the SAD regime had pushed the state to the brink of bankruptcy.

Coming down heavily on wasteful expenditure, he said what was the rationale of public and civil servants moving about in convoys of vehicles full of securitymen when the situation was normal. The security cover and vehicles would be withdrawn and it would be ensured that the rules to provide security were not misused, he said.

BARNALA: “Love, regard and response for the Congress in Doaba, Majha and Malwa regions of Punjab during my electioneering in all parts of Punjab has been overwhelming as a strong wave and swing was there for Congress-CPI combine.”

Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh made this assertion while addressing an election rally at local Pharwahi Bazar today. He was canvassing in support of Mr Surinderpal Singh Sibia, Congress nominee from Barnala Assembly constituency.

Captain Amarinder Singh confidently asserted that the people of Punjab had already made up their mind to vote the Congress CPI alliance in Punjab to power.


Ramoowalia lashes out at Cong, SAD
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 6
The Lok Bhalai Party is the only party that is fighting for causes of common people without any vested interests, claimed Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, while addressing an election rally at Sirhind town today for the party candidate Surinder Singh Banka from Sirhind constituency.

He said that if his party is voted to power, he would provide a clean, corruption-free and responsive government which would serve every section of society and eradicate communalism from politics.

Lashing out at the SAD and the Congress, he said that both the parties had looted the state and the country. He said it was unfortunate that the people had lost faith in politicians due to the erosion of values in politics.

He said his party would hold an inquiry into the corruption charges levelled against Mr Badal and his ministers.



Dissident Congressman Harinderpal Singh Mann, who is contesting as an Independent candidate from the Samana Constituency, undertook an eight-hour march on Tuesday through the town on Tuesday. Mr Mann, accompanied by his wife and other family members, went across the markets and met a cross section of society, including shopkeepers and tradesmen. OC

The Punjab Radical Students Union has decided to boycott the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. This was stated by Mr Brijesh Kumar, general secretary of the union, in a press note issued here. OC

The election campaign of Mr Bir Devinder Singh, a Congress candidate, got a boost when a large number of ex-servicemen decided to extend their support to him at a rally held at Chuni village on Wednesday. Addressing the rally, Lieut Col S.S. Shi and Brig H.S. Ghuman said a committee had studied manifestoes and biodatas of all candidates before deciding to support Mr Bir Devinder Singh from the Kharar constituency. OC

The Nawanshahr Mandi Merchants Association has decided to support the Congress nominee, Mr Parkash Singh. The decision has been taken to protest against ‘‘anti-trader policies ’’ of the SAD-BJP government in the state, said Mr Rajnish Jain, president of the association, in a press note issued here on Wednesday. OC

The local unit of the SAD (A), has decided to support Mr Hardev Singh Kahma, an Independent candidate from Nawanshahr, in the forthcoming Assembly elections. This was stated by Mr Makhan Singh Taharpuri, secretary of the local unit of SAD (A), in a press note issued here on Wednesday. OC

The Congress candidate from Sujanpur, Mr Ragunath Sahai Puri, got a boost when Ms Sumitra Devi, Mr Chaman Lal and Mr Jai Singh, sarpanches of Chhanni, Rajparura and Chachalli villages, respectively, decided to support him in the forthcoming Assembly elections. Mr Puri was also weighed against coins at Lamin village. OC

Members of the Nehru Memorial Teachers Association have urged the Returning Officer to cancel their election duty since it does not commensurate with their status and pay scale. This was stated by Dr Varinder Singh, secretary of the association, in a memorandum to Ms Raji Srivastava, Returning Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner. TNS

Ms Rajia Sultana, a Congress candidate, visited the market places in the Malerkotla area to garner support for the forthcoming Assembly elections. She was also weighed against coins at five different rallies on Tuesday. She said she would solve the problems of the town on a priority basis. OC

The Punjab Youth Congress has formed a 116-member brigade of observers to gear up the election campaign of the Congress and educate people about its manifesto. The observers would tour Assembly constituencies in the state and keep a close watch on the poll-related developments, said Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, president of the Punjab Youth Congress. TNS

Mr Sulakhan Singh, president of the Block Youth Congress Committee (rural), resigned from his post on Tuesday. He did not specify the reason for his resignation, but said that he would remain in the party. OC

The Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) leader, Mr Anand Rao Adshul, on Tuesday said the party would win at least five to seven, out of 32 seats it was contesting in the forthcoming Assembly election in the state. OC


Boost for SAD-BJP
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 6
The SAD-BJP candidate from Phagwara, Mr Swarna Ram, got a boost when the Janata Dal (U) state secretary, Mr Sarwan Singh Bholi, the district vice-president, Mr Shiv Kumar, and the block president, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, joined the BJP along with their supporters.


Weighed 111 times
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, February 6
The Irrigation Minister and SAD-BJP candidate from the Ferozepore Cantt Assembly constituency, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, was weighed 111 times by his supporters at Talwandi Bhai. Addressing a rally, Mr Sekhon called upon the voters in the area to repose faith in him once again.


Dances, langars galore at rallies
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 6
From dhol beats to dancing girls, catchy posters to polythene flags, bottles of liquor to intoxicating tablets, every gimmick in the book is being used to lure the voters here. National leaders’ presence notwithstanding, party workers are using every possible means to woo the electors.

Girls danced to the tune of Punjabi numbers at the election rally of Nationalist Congress Party candidate Capt Rajinder Kumar while a lass in a western outfit performed before the rural crowd at Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike’s (sitting SAD MLA) rally at Attari a few days ago.

Parties are also arranging lavish langars to feed the awaiting crowds.

Throw in the drumbeats, dancing girls and arrange a spectacle of the candidate being weighed against coins and “ladoos” to be distributed afterwards and crowds pour in.

Autorickshaws get tipplers and addicts to have a good time while an indigenous distillery makes the hooch from jaggery (gur).

Many are enjoying the bounty while the dancers are getting Rs 5,000 per rally with no dates to spare. Helpers of “halwais” are also having a busy time making preparations for langars.

The ban on polythene notwithstanding, the makers of banners, buntings and flags are doing a roaring business with parties vying for more. These buntings are strung out at the streets and roads as a special favour to candidates while the orders for printing banners and posters having party symbols are unprecedented.

Right under the nose of election observers, candidates are flouting the code of conduct with impunity. With roads blocked to accommodate rally shamianas, the tent houses are minting money.

So goes the election scene here, where at least three election observers are to keep an account of expenses and the provisions of law allow only Rs 6 lakh in expenditures for a candidate.


J&K migrants get chance to be heard
Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 6
For hundreds of Kashmiri migrant families living in Punjab, the Assembly elections have brought some hope to them. The leaders of the displaced community are raising their long-pending issues once again.

Having a sizeable population living in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Phagwara, Gurdaspur, Panthankot, Patiala and SAS Nagar, migrants lament that they have had never been heard by both the Akalis or the Congress. This time, they hope to get some share out of the cake as candidates of different political parties are knocking at their doors.

To solicit support for their issues, the community in Ropar district yesterday arranged a meeting with the general secretary of the PPCC, Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, to put across their points.

Annoyed with the major political parties for not putting the grievances of the Kashmiri migrants in their manifestoes, the leaders of the community are now playing the card of their vote bank.

Sq Ldr B. L. Sadhu (retd), convener of the All-Kashmiri Migrant Association, said the main issues of the community were issuing of migration certificates, reservation in subsidised housing on the pattern of the riot victims and cash relief for the migrants in poor financial condition.

Mr B. B. Tikoo, general secretary of the association, said some of the Kashmiri families were not registered as migrants, thereby denying the right of their children to get admission in professional colleges.


Dummy EVMs in vogue
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 6
In Doaba, it is the dummy electronic voting machines (EVMs) which are catching the fancy of candidates of almost all political parties, who don’t want to take any chance with voters, particularly, those who are illiterate and first timer youth, who are ignorant about the functioning of the EVMs. Dummy EVMs have replaced dummy ballot papers used earlier for the same purpose.

Candidates and their supporters are making a beeline to publishers and printers for placing orders for the fabrication of dummy EVMs, which are available in cardboard and plastic versions. “We are purchasing such machines as the last time we noticed that there was an array of misconceptions about the functioning of the EVMs,” said a local candidate. The candidates are organising small gatherings, where dummy machines are placed and people are allowed to inspect them and to inquire about their functioning.

Meanwhile, the race to procure dummy EVMs has resulted in a brisk business for a few publishers. A cardboard machine costs between Rs 40 and Rs 50 and the plastic moulded one about Rs 900.


Cops summon ‘harassed’ girl
Student shoots off missive to VC, Jacob
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 6
In a shocking incident, a student of the Department of Fine Arts, Punjabi University who had complained to the Vice-Chancellor against the harassment meted out to her in his name, was summoned to the Sadar police station today regarding a complaint submitted against her.

The girl student - Saru Rana - has also shot off a missive to the Vice-Chancellor and Punjab Governor — Lieut Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob, alleging that she was being targeted by the Vice-Chancellor for making the complaint and that she feared for her life and career.

The girl had earlier submitted a complaint to the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, mentioning that she had been mentally harassed for the past two years by being forced to decorate his residence when a reception was thrown to celebrate his son’s marriage besides being told to wear white suits with “phulkari” dupattas during functions attended by VIPs and making of panels and rangoli decorations at various places in the university and outside.

The student had also alleged harassment against four other students of the Department of Fine Arts of the university who had left the university soon after two of them visited Dehra Dun in connection with a university function. The girl student complained that both the girls had been given code names like “Pepsi” and had been asked to wait on the Vice-Chancellor and his special guests.

Following the complaint the university authorities kept quiet for some time but came out with a release yesterday saying that a vigilance inquiry had been ordered in the entire issue. It said written complaints received from students of the same department regarding the “motivations” behind the complaint had also been entrusted to the Vigilance Department. The University Management also alleged that some vested interests, both inside and outside the university were exploiting the situation.

Today in a fresh development, Saru Rana received a note from Gurmeet Singh, “chief officer” of the Sadar police station asking her to present herself before him with regard to a complaint submitted against her in the police station. Ms Rana could not be contacted and the Sadar police station personnel also refused to give any comment on the issue. However, according to sources, a complaint has been submitted against Ms Rana by another girl student claiming that she had threatened to kill her.

The new development has sent shock waves in the university as girl students have never been called to police stations like this before.

Meanwhile, Ms Rana in a missive to the Vice-Chancellor said when she had submitted a complaint regarding harassment no action or inquiry was ordered. She said instead she was being targeted which had convinced her that everything was being done at the behest of the Vice-Chancellor. Claiming that she felt threatened and insecure, she urged him to intervene to save her life and career.

The Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) in a separate press note today claimed that the university authorities had referred the case to the Vigilance Department in a bid to divert attention of the public and parents. Forum president Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon said a fact-finding team, including himself and Dr Nirbahi Singh and Dr Parkash Singh Jammu had come to the conclusion that students of the Fine Arts Department were being misused in the name of internal accessment which comprised a major part of their course. He said girl students were made to do “odd jobs” in front of VIPs and taken to different places like Dehra Dun and Delhi for activities other than academic. The forum requested the Vice-Chancellor to get the matter investigated through a committee headed by a woman.


Army man dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 6
An Army man was killed and his brother was critically injured when their motor cycle collided with a truck. The accident occurred near Wadala village at Majitha police district last evening. Mahinder Singh, father of the deceased and an eyewitness to the accident lodged the complaint with the Majitha police. The driver fled the spot after the incident, leaving his truck behind.

Meanwhile, the police has apprehended as many as 12 persons in separate incidents and have recovered 70 litres of illicit liquor.


Patwari convicted of accepting bribe
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 6
Mr Jagroop Singh Mahal, Special Judge-cum-Additional Sessions Judge, today convicted Kewal Singh, a revenue patwari of Guddha village falling in Sultanpur Lodhi tehsil, under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act on the charge of accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from Daya Singh, a retired patwari of Kacha Paccka village of Amritsar district for getting the mutation of his land sanctioned and sentenced Kewal Singh to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years and pay a fine of Rs 2,000.

In default of fine, the judge further sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for six months.


Civil Hospital employees not paid salaries
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 6
Several employees of the Civil Hospital here have not been paid salaries for the months of December, 2001, and January, 2002. The affected persons include three medical officers, an equal number of paramedical staff and a six class IV employees. They had performed emergency duties. According to sources, their salaries have not been paid as budgetary sanction is awaited.

Mr Sarvan Kumar, president, Class IV Employees Union of the hospital, Mr Sham Lal Challana, organiser, Paramedical Union, and Dr Hans Raj Malethia, representative of the PCMS Association, Fazilka, have demanded that regular sanction for these posts be granted and their salaries be released immediately.


4 poll observers for Fatehgarh Sahib
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 6
Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Electoral Officer, while addressing mediapersons here today, said the Election Commission of India had appointed four observers for the two Assembly constituencies in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

Those appointed were Mr Sanjay Joshi, Mr Gorakh Megh, Mr G.P. Upadhaya and Mr R. Venkat Raman. He said Ms Raghbir Kaur Khera was the Returning Officer for Amloh constituency and Mr Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, was the Returning Officer for Sirhind constituency. He further said that on February 13, the polling would start at 8 am and continue till 5 pm. Counting would start on February 24 at 8 am and electoral process would complete on February 28.

In Amloh constituency, there were 147 polling stations with 189 polling booths out of which 24 polling stations with 38 polling booths had been declared sensitive. Similarly in Sirhind constituency, there were 136 polling stations with 173 polling booths out of which 67 polling stations with 108 polling booths had been declared sensitive.

Mr Vikas Partap further said that 2,044 employees had been deputed for the poll duty on these polling booths. Each party would comprise one presiding officer and three polling officers. Twenty per cent of the deputed staff would be kept reserved. There were 1,48,262 voters in Amloh constituency out of which 79,255 were males and 68,856 were females. Similarly in Sirhind constituency, there were 1,31,997 voters out of which 70,353 were males and 61,427 are females and in service 159 males and 58 females. he further said that there would be postal ballet papers for all those on duty and this time indelible ink would be used twice.

Mr Vikas Partap said the candidates and political parties had been directed to follow the model code of conduct. They had also been asked to keep an account of their daily expenditure and get the register checked from the respective returning officer on alternate days. He said printing press owners had also been directed to submit declaration on specified form duly signed by the candidate or his representative to the District Election Office, in case they undertake printing of any election-related matter.


Criminal case filed against Kang
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 6
Mr Dhani Ram of Siau village, whose son Bikram Preet Singh and nephew Raman Preet Singh were murdered at Siau village of Kharar block on June 22 last year filed a criminal complaint in the court of Ms Harinder Sidhu, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today. In his complaint he has accused Mr Kiranvir Singh Kang, a SAD candidate from Kharar, and eight other persons of being involved in the murders.

He said Mr Kang had not been arrested even though his name was mentioned in the FIR.

The court has fixed March 13 for recording the evidence about this complaint.


‘Save higher education day’ observed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 6
The activists of the district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union supported by principals, members of management committees, non-teaching staff and students today staged a dharna at the local B.R. Ambedkar park observing the day as ‘save higher education day’ and to press for the acceptance of their demands.

The activists alleged that the SAD-BJP government was not paying any attention to the declining standards of higher education in the state and non-fulfilment of the already accepted demands. Addressing an impressive gathering Mr Y.R. Handa, district president and spokesman for the joint action committee alleged that the cost of higher education was getting out of reach of the common man and the various agencies of the state were filling their coffers by the fee collected from students.

Mr Handa alleged that fee for technical and professional courses in various colleges of the state had been increased heftily and in certain cases the fee for free seats in local colleges were more than the paid seats in colleges in the southern states. Leaders of some student union from Bathinda and Mansa also addressed the dharna and accused the government of commericalisation of education.

The activists alleged that the SAD-BJP government was not implementing some of the demands that had already been accepted and even the grant from the Central Government had been received. They alleged that Rs 21 crore in respect of arrears of revised UGC pay scale since January 1, 1996 had already been received by the state government but not released so far to the beneficiaries.

The activists demanded that the UGC notification should be implemented in full, Rs 100 crore, should be released on account of pending salary grant, brining 30 unaided colleges under the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme, releasing orders for the extension of pay revisions for unaided colleges and posts. Later a memorandum was submitted to the Punjab Chief Minister, through the Deputy Commissioner urging him to accept the genuine demands of the employees and suggested the imposition of ‘education cess’ on industrial houses to generate funds for education rather than increasing the fee and making higher education out of the reach of the common man.


Jalandhar DPS to open in April
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 6
Delhi Public School, Jalandhar, will be functional from the academic session beginning in April, in the cantonment area. This was formally announced here today at a function.

The Chairman of Delhi Public School Society, Mr Narender Kumar, inspected the site of the school here and reviewed the progress of the work. He asked the authorities to complete the building within the stipulated time and assured that in keeping with the traditions of the DPS chain of schools, schoolchildren would be provided the culturally rich inputs. According to him, it is the DPS resolve that “for the making of the man to take charge of his life in this fast-changing world, the foundation of education shall offer attractive contents both appropriate and relevant to body, mind and spirit.”

On the occasion, the alumnus also formed the North Zone Chapter of Depsite Association” which will cover Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu And Kashmir Col H.S. Chahal (retd) was elected honorary secretary of the association.

The pro-vice chairman of the school, Mr Rajiv Bhatnagar, is a Depsite of the 1974 batch from Delhi Public School, Mathura Road.


GND varsity to honour Tiwana, Sri Dev
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 6
Guru Nanak Dev University will honour a noted Punjabi author and Saraswati awardee, Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana, and an eminent painter, poet and recipient of the Indian Literary Academy Award, Sri Dev, under the aegis of its School of Punjabi Studies on February 8 here. This was stated by a spokesman of the university. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof S.P. Singh, will preside over the function.


Questions totalling 41 marks out of syllabus
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 6
The students of B.Sc. (IT) first semester of Punjab Technical University studying at Vaishno Maa Computer Centre here complained that questions totalling 41 marks that appeared in the ‘Computer Fundamental and Productivity Software’ paper held today at Budha Dal Public School were out of the syllabus and books prescribed by the PTU.

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 |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |