Sunday, February 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM attacked in hometown
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Lambi, February 9
A warm and rousing reception awaited the Punjab Pradesh Congress Chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, as he strode into the citadel of his main rival and political opponent, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, here today.

Exuding confidence and overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response of the gathering, the PPCC chief not only lambasted his opponent but also took to task the officials of the district who according to his own party workers were “preventing people from joining the Congress rally”.

“We shall not tolerate any more excesses. Punjab had enough of it,” he declared to the great thrill of the audience. The PPCC chief did not spare the rebel candidate, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, and made it clear that those who have been expelled “shall have to cool their heels outside the party for a minimum of six years.”

Capt Amarinder Singh made a frontal attack on the Chief Minister holding him and his government directly responsible for “reduced production of cotton saying that insecticides and pesticides being supplied were totally ineffective.”

Giving a new slogan “fight for future”, he said that Congress would provide a change, a change for better and “to ensure safe, secure and prosperous future for Punjab and its people by tackling the problem of corruption, unemployment and bringing the economy back on rails”.

The Congress candidate from here, Mr Gurnam Singh Abulkhurana, also criticised the Punjab Chief Minister for ignoring the area and its people.

ZIRA: The reception accorded to Capt Amarinder Singh was unprecedented. Hundreds of people, especially youngsters, had lined up on both sides enroute from Government School building , where he landed, to the Grain Market where he was supposed to address a rally in favour of the party candidate, Mr Kudip Bhullar.

An impressive gathering greeted the PPCC chief at the venue of the rally. Mr Mohinder Singh Gill, a former PPCC chief and a former Punjab Minister, said that though the SAD-BJP government claimed itself to be farmer friendly government, the incidence of suicides among farmers increased manifold during the past five years. The development in the area, if any, was undertaken by Mr Nasib Singh Gill of Congress when he was elected from here in 1972.Capt Amarinder Singh said that the SAD-BJP boat would not only be rocked by a strong Congress wave in the State but it would wipe out this alliance and all “acts of corruption” against the Akali government and its bureaucrats would be brought before the law by setting up a judicial commission. He also referred to the February 6 shooting incident in which a brother of the Chief Minister's son-in-law was allegedly involved. "The have been letting loose terror everywhere.," he declared.

KAPURTHALA: Before the PPCC chief could address the impressive gathering, a local lawyer and a social worker, Mr Manu Dev Gautam, who has been waging a fight against drugs in the area, urged him that after coming to power, he must take immediate steps to check the drugs, focus on environment and ensure supply of potable water to all people.

The party candidate, Rana Gurjit Singh, wanted two women colleges, an engineering college, drinking water and sewerage in all villages besides more job opportunities to the youth of area. He himself promise to set up a sugar mill in the area to the benefit of farmers and unemployed youth.

Judging the mood of the audience, the Captain not only promised to do everything possible to redress the grievances and demands of the people of Kapurthala but also recalled the long association of Patiala family with the Kapurthala family.


Sukhbir towers out of dad’s shadow
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 9
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and general secretary of SAD, has finally emerged out of the towering shadow of his father, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

In the current run-up to the elections to the Punjab Assembly scheduled for February 13, Badal junior has turned out to be one of the principal campaigners for his party, holding meetings with party jathedars, addressing poll rallies, handling tricky media conferences, chalking out election strategies and giving finishing touches to newspaper advertisement campaigns to counter the Congress media blitzkrieg. After the Chief Minister, he is the most in demand at poll rallies by party candidates seeking election to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

With Mr Parkash Singh Badal grounded due to a hip injury sustained in a bathroom fall and forced to travel by road in a specially fabricated van fitted with a hydraulic lift, Badal jr has stepped up campaigning. Hiring a helicopter from the Deccan Aviation, he undertook a whirlwind tour of the state, addressing as many as 33 poll rallies in three days in Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar, Ferozepore and Moga districts in the final stages of electioneering due to end on Monday evening.

He has perfected his oratorical skills. His speeches delivered at poll rallies dominated by farmers, are delivered in simple Punjabi, laced with country wisdom and wit, interesting anecdotes designed to humour the audience and biting sarcasm reserved for political rivals, as the occasion demands. They are invariably packed with information about the strides the state has made during the SAD-BJP rule in the past five years.

He begins his speech with the traditional Sikh greeting of “Waheguruji ka Khalsa, Waheguruji ki fateh”. After explaining the significance of the forthcoming electoral battle in Punjab which, he says, is between the forces of progress and development represented by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and forces of destruction represented by the Congress, he repeatedly emphasises the point that it is the SAD-BJP government alone which can safeguard the interests of the farmers. And then he declares tellingly, “Don't make the mistake of installing a Congress government in Chandigarh because if you do, you will find no takers for your wheat and paddy at the time of procurement....” Nodding heads in the audience show that the point has gone home.

He also does not fail to mention that it is the close, personal friendship between the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, which has stood Punjab in good stead and ensured the installation of new industrial projects, including an oil refinery worth thousands of crore of rupees.

A typical day begins around nine in the morning with Badal jr striding purposefully to the helicopter parked in Rajendra Park opposite the Chief Minister’s official bungalow in Chandigarh.

The first stop is Sirhind, only 10 minutes away by air. He is received by a slogan-shouting band of youngsters and the party candidate, Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, at the makeshift helipad in an open ground. On way to the venue of the rally, Mr Bhatti quickly briefs the junior Badal on the situation in the constituency. “We are doing fine,” he says. “Today, we have been able to win over Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana, press secretary to SAD (A) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.”

At the rally, Sukhbir talks equally about the Congress misdeeds of the past and the divisive role of the leaders of the Panthic Morcha who, according to him, are doing everything possible to help the Congress.

At Sirhind, he does not fail to take a dig at Mr Simranjit Singh Mann. “He used to be very vocal in criticising the Chief Minister for promoting his son in politics. What has happened now? Mr Mann has fielded his own son for the Sirhind seat. Is this not promotion?” he asks, evoking a derisive laughter from the audience.

Another 10 minutes’ flight, and he is in the Ghanaur constituency where he is greeted by jeeploads of slogan-shouting youths sporting party badges and the party candidate and minister of state, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur.

The next rally is at Dirba from where Mr Baldev Singh Mann is contesting and facing the problem of dissidence in the party ranks and opposition from the followers of the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Badal jr administers a stern warning to those not toeing the party line.

Another 10 minutes’ flight and the next rally is at Longowal in the Dhanaula constituency from where Mr Gobind Singh Longowal is seeking re-election. His next stop is at Joga in Mansa district from where Mr J. S. Nakai is contesting. The chopper almost lands at a Congress rally being addressed by the Congress stalwart, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. He rounds off his day’s programme with a rally at Rampuraphul in Bathinda district. And at the end of the gruelling day, he hardly shows any sign of fatigue.

Next morning, he again takes off in the chopper to address as many as 12 poll rallies in the Faridkot and Kot Kapura constituencies. On the third day, he covers Ferozepore, Moga and Amritsar districts.


Poll theatre enacted without script
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
Several factors come into play in an election — politics and personalities, promises and passions, allegations and rabble-rousing, provocative ad-campaigns and histrionics.

Seldom are socio-economic factors raised and debated. If raised, these are more in the nature of populist pronouncements, influenced by competitive politics. Realism is buried in rhetoric. All this becomes self-evident as one surveys the poll theatre in Punjab, where, unfortunately, neither the Akalis nor the Congress have a script for their campaigns. The people are silent witness to their political punches and mudslinging, reserving their judgment till February 13.

Exploiting the sweep of the print and electronic media (does the media also sway voters?), politicians have provided acerbic bytes, vacuous dialogues and raked up issues — high on emotion, low on conviction. Thus, for the first time, the campaigns have spilled political sullage even to the courts, raising a lot of stink. So pleased are the politicians with their pugnacious punches that allegations seem to excite them as would an AK-47 to a terrorist.

The issues that should have formed the poll plank have been skirted. No one even talked of female foeticide, menace of drugs, population control, school drop-outs, low literacy and sex ratio, state of the economy and economy of the state, good governance etc. All one heard was corruption, sale of jobs, scams, Kargil coffins, calling the other epitome of communalism and fostering terrorism, bartering away interests of Punjab etc.

Obviously, politicians feel uncomfortable with “real” issues. They are reluctant to talk for fear of losing votes. Their allegations rage about contentious issues, igniting Opposition responses by stoking ambers of happenings long past. But will the EVMs (electronic voting machines) reflect the will of the people?

The voters are sought to be impressed through personalities, local and “imported”, who make whirlwind campaigns, talk of national issues and try to fit in local issues. If the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, told the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, not to talk of “coffins”, she retorted by reiterating defence scams and dubbing the NDA and Akali-BJP corrupt.

The Union Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, reminded the people about national security and trans-border terrorism , stressing on political stability and on Hindu-Sikh unity in a border state. The former Union Finance Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, blamed the Akalis for terrorism and also for the economic ruin through wrong policies and corruption. The present election is typical of the pot calling the kettle black.

Add to this the media-sponsored surveys and predictions. One wonders, if the media is influenced by the “mood” or is influencing the “mind”of voters. Such is the hype, political parties are walking on egg-shells.

All this must be seen and analysed in the context of ground realities. The media, so far, has ignored the equation between economy and elections. The foundation of Punjab economy is agriculture. Farming families form the bulk of 66.05 per cent rural population. The Akalis have provided a reprieve to the farming population. This segment will greatly influence the outcome of the polls.

There are also floating and marginal electors — about 25 per cent. Dr Karam Singh, Director, Agro-Economics Research Centre at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, says, “This percentage will make a dent. A major chunk of this owes a debt of gratitude to the Akalis-BJP for providing economic sustenance through farm-oriented sops”.


Paramilitary forces rushed to Majha
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 9
Election-related tension in the Majha belt is heading towards a boiling point. It is keeping the district administration and election observers on their toes. The Police has been keeping watch on the situation in the area.

Following violence in Bhikhiwind, which led to the murder of one person and also in certain parts of the Dhariwal constituency in this district, paramilitary forces have been rushed to these areas.

Police sources said the Dhariwal and Kahnuwan constituencies in Gurdaspur district and almost the entire Amritsar district had been declared most sensitive areas following violent clashes among the supporters of various political parties and candidates.

Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Punjab Public Works Minister, is contesting from Dhariwal as a candidate of the SAD. He is pitted against Mr Sucha Singh Chotepur, a former minister, who is contesting as Independent with the backing of the Panthic Morcha. The Congress has fielded Mr Salamat Massih from Dhariwal.

A full company of the BSF has also been deployed in that constituency where two heavyweights, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa of the Congress and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan of the SAD, are in the fray, besides a number of other candidates.

At Bhikhiwind, a vendor, Ali Sher Khan, was killed in election-related violence early this week. It has been alleged that Mr Gurpartap Singh Kairon, brother of Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister, who is contesting the election from this area, was involved in the firing which led to the murder. However, both main parties are putting the blame on each other for that incident.

In fact, the ongoing rivalry of the Kairon family with Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Akali minister, on the one side and also with the family of the late Darshan Singh Pheruman on the other side has charged the atmosphere in the constituency.


Capt banks on his work and image
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
Punjab’s Finance and Planning Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, is banking on his work and positive votes which he claims will be in his favour as he had carried out targeted development in Banur, his constituency, besides carving out policies in the state.

And lest his role as the think tank of the ruling SAD - BJP combine is lost on anyone, Capt Kanwaljit adds: Getting Chandigarh for Punjab is on our agenda and so is the issue of not allowing water to flow down the SYL canal besides the six-laning of the Chandigarh-Ambala road stretch.

Banur comprising areas like Banur, Dera Bassi, Lalru and Zirakpur near Chandigarh had been neglected for several decades but things are looking up now, claims the former Armyman. Dera Bassi was given the status of Civil Sub Division and Zirakpur was converted into a Nagar Panchayat. Laying his claim to development he reminds that 99 km of new link roads were constructed and six new bridges were added.

His poll managers are quick enough to take out computer generated lists of tasks carried out by their "Kaptan sahib" in uplifting Banur constituency and the state. A total of 3.76 metres of drinking water pipelines were laid, 22 tubewells were sunkand 12 overhead tanks were provided. The list goes on to say that a 66 KVA grid sub station was provided at Handesra and Lalru.

Talking to The Tribune, 59-year-old Capt Kanwaljit Singh, defended his government's decision of providing free power for tubewells saying priority before the planning department was to make more power available. The Rs 950 crore Thein dam was completed and work on the Lehra Mohhabbat thermal plant also started. Our idea is to give connections across the board and agriculture is the main avocation of people thus the concessions. And there was no discrimination against urban people, he claims.

On why caste-based welfare measures were doled out to the Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes, he says some sections have to be supported. He is careful to side-step the issue of division among general category and reserved category government employees on the issue of caste based promotions.

As a planner I have not gone on caste factors but have based it on urban and rural development by providing constant flow of funds. In between while talking to his electorate and The Tribune he pacifies a voter and his followers who raise demands during polls. Promises are made, the talk resumes.

The SAD stand to agitate on the SYL issue remains, actually the centre should ultimately draw a line on the issue. Haryana has no locus standi and does not even qualify under Riparian laws. Within his constituency the Captain reminds his voters that 10,067 old age pensions, 955 widow pensions, 221 orphan pensions and 368 crippled pensions were given.

Not to miss the claims of Shagun of Rs 5,100 given to each of the 1102 marriageable dalit girls. And another Rs 1.13 crore as stipend to dalit girl students. 


Ajit Jogi decries Advani’s talk
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kartarpur (Jalandhar) February 9
The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and senior Congress leader, Mr Ajit Jogi, today criticised the Union Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, and the BJP for “hurting” religious feelings of a particular community by advocating the need for a national debate on the functioning of madarasas.

Mr Advani said yesterday that madarasas were coming up in the border areas at a rapid speed and the ISI might be using some of these for carrying out its nefarious designs in India.

Talking to TNS, Mr Jogi said the BJP was trying to communalise the prevailing political atmosphere to gain mileage during the ensuing polls in four states. “This is not the right time to give statements on such sensitive issues particularly when four states are going to polls. The BJP had always played a communal card for sake of votes. Infact, Mr Advani, being the Home Minister, should talk more about communal harmony and peace instead of raking up sensitive issues during polls,” Mr Jogi suggested.

Regarding the recent statement of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, about the foreign origin of the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mr Jogi said the Prime Minister should maintain the dignity of his highest office.

Later, addressing a massive rally in support of Choudhary Jagjit Singh, a Congress candidate from this constituency, Mr Jogi alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had sold the interests of the state in lieu of a ministerial birth in the Centre for his son.

Choudhary Jagjit Singh while addressing the gathering alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister had amassed property and assets worth Rs 3,500 crore in the country and abroad.


Rapport with people holds key
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 9
Punjab Local Bodies Minister and senior BJP leader Balramji Das Tandon, who was touted as the Deputy Chief Minister in the run-up to the last poll, is learning the hard way that it pays to remain in touch with your constituents. He is contesting from Rajpura where he is pitted against a leader who is perceived to be closer to people than him.

Mr Tandon, who had migrated to this seat from Amritsar during the last poll, is finding it difficult to explain about his long absences from the constituency during the first four years of his tenure. This is the main factor responsible for a close contest here even though he is credited with large-scale development of the constituency.

However, lack of rapport with the people and his inability to listen to their day- to- day problems is making Mr Tandon's position uncomfortable.'' The Minister seldom came to the town during the first two to three years of his tenure'', said Mr Ajay Sukhija, a resident.

The BJP patriarch has two other problems. One is the lack of active support from the city SAD jatha comprising supporters of the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who had openly protested against his candidature and the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Tarlochan Dev. The Akali workers are now reportedly trying to sabotage his campaign from within.

The Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Tarlochan Dev, is also likely to affect Mr Tandon's chances. Mr Dev happens to be a long-time confidant of the Panthic Morcha leader, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, who is at present President of the Rajpura Municipal Committee. He is concentrating on the villages across Shambhu besides the city where he may also touch upon the Congress votes.

Fortunately for Mr Tandon, the Congress candidate also has a few problems, the main being the lack of complete support of the District and Block Congress rank and file. This is mainly due to the fact that Mr Khurana had virtually boycotted the campaign of Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of the PPCC Chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, when she contested from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat. However, Mr Khurana tried to resolve the issue by coaxing her to address a public gathering, which she did. District Congress Committee (rural) President Hardyal Singh Kamboj, who was also a claimant for the party ticket, has also expressed his support to Khurana ''in the interest of making Capt Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister of the State'' but whether the support will be whole hearted or not still remains to be seen.

Besides this the Congress candidate has to reckon with the development works conducted by Mr Tandon, particularly the construction of the overbridge, the demand for whose construction was lying in the cold since long. Mr Tandon is, however, reckoning on his man of the masses image as well as the support of the Bahawalpur community ( people who migrated here from Pakistan after Partition), among whom he enjoys large-scale support.


Fight between Jakhar, Ram Kumar
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Abohar, February 7
Although there are 11 candidates in fray from this constituency, it seems to be a direct fight between Mr Ram Kumar, sitting MLA of the BJP, and Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar. The Congress candidate is the son of a former union minister and senior Congress leader, Mr Balram Jakhar. Therefore, this seat has become a prestige issue for them.

The Congress, which was facing infighting within the party with Mr Sudhir Nagpal, once a very close associate of Jakhar’s in the electoral fray, received a boost when Mrs Sonia Gandhi during her visit to Abohar on Tuesday succeeded in gaining the support of many followers of Mr Nagpal.

The Congress nominee has also managed to win the support of the Modi family that reportedly holds a considerable influence in the Abohar city, particularly among the Aggarwal community. This family was earlier associated with the Jan Sangh and later the BJP for the past two decades. The decision of this family to support Mr Jakhar has also attracted many local BJP workers to campaign for the Congress.

The BJP candidate, Mr Ram Kumar, is banking upon the sole plank of development works initiated by the SAD-BJP government during the past five years.

On other hand, Mr Jakhar is attacking the government on the issue of corruption, poor sewer system in the city, hike in power tariff in urban areas, insufficient supply of drinking water, poor condition of roads, lack of other infrastructure facilities, increasing unemployment and increase in number of drug addicts in the area.

According to Mr Balram Jakhar, ‘‘These ground issues concern the common man in the area. The performance of the SAD-BJP government has failed to improve the standard of living of the poor people. Landless labourers are migrating to cities in search of work while the farmers can’t sell their produce in time. People are now looking for change.’’

However, the BJP candidate claims that he would benefit from the polarisation of Congress votes with the emergence of Mr Nagpal as an Independent candidate.

With the BSP candidate Charankamal Jakhar also in fray, the electoral battle seems to be interesting. Earlier, during the last elections BSP did not field its candidate from this constituency.


From where Beant Singh rose to fame
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Payal, February 9
It is this constituency which in 1969 ushered in Mr Beant Singh into mainstream politics, not as a Congressman but as an Independent, rather as a rebel Akali supported by the Congress. The Dal high command was toying with the idea of fielding him but at the last moment decided to give the party ticket to Mr Gian Singh Rarewala, another political stalwart. Mr Beant Singh defeated Mr Rarewala by more than 5,000 votes.

Mr Beant Singh, who belonged to Kotli, a small village on the outskirts of Payal town, then came on to stay and rose to be the Congress Chief Minister of Punjab. Mr Beant Singh won from here in 1972, 1977 and 1980 before losing to Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, who in 1984 quit the Congress and joined the Akali Dal, to enter Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1985. Earlier, Mr Garcha represented Ludhiana in the Lok Sabha in 1967, 1971 and 1980.

In 1992, the Congress wrested back this seat through Mr Harnek Singh but in 1997, Mr Sadhu Singh Ghudani of the Akali Dal took it back. This time, the Dal has fielded Mr Jagjivan Pal Singh Gill, a first-timer and opposing him is Mr Tej Parkash Singh, a son of Mr Beant Singh, who is contesting on the Congress ticket. Others in the fray are Mr Kirpal Singh Libra (Panthic Morcha), Mr Hardev Singh (Independent) and Mr Nirmajit Kaur (BSP).

Payal is a fairly compact constituency with 1,25,906 votes and there are 155 polling stations and, surprisingly, not even a single very sensitive polling station, says Mr Jaskaran Singh, Returning Officer.

KOOM KALAN: It is an unique constituency spread over several subdivisions. How it got this name is not known to many as there is no subdivision by this name in the State.

Another interesting feature of this constituency has been that no party could monopolise it. In 1969, it returned Mr Partap Singh, an Akali, but in 1972, Capt Rattan Singh triumphed on the Congress ticket.

Comrade Daya Singh then won from here both in 1977 and 1980, defeating Mr Shyam Singh of the Congress on both occasions. Mr Rajinder Singh Dhaliwal of the Akali Dal won this seat in 1985. In 1992, it went to Mr Isher Singh Meharban of the Congress.

But in the 1997 elections, Mr Charanjit Singh Athwal, the present Speaker, defeated Mr Isher Singh Meharban of the Congress. Now Mr Meharban is in the fray again. Opposing him this time is Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal's son, Mr Inder Iqbal Singh. Others in the fray are Mr Gurmail Singh (RLDAS), Mr Rajinder Jakhu (Panthic Morcha) and Mr Inderjit Singh (BSP).

This constituency, according to its Returning Officer, Mr M.S. Kundles, has 1,44, 947 votes and 178 polling booths of which four are very sensitive.

SAMRALA: This is one of the oldest subdivisions of Punjab which has witnessed several fragmentations and virtually no growth. Instead, neighbouring Machhiwara has grown much more rapidly than this old town on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana road. For example, the grain market at Machhiwara is the second biggest after Khanna in this region. Though it is an important town, but politically it has not got the position it deserved. With the exception of Mr Karam Singh Gill, who was a member of the Council of Ministers of Mr Beant Singh in 1992, the elected MLA has seldom occupied a political post of significance.

In 1962, it was Mr Ajmer Singh of the Congress who won from here . In 1969, 1972 and 1977, it returned Akali MLAs — Mr Kapoor Singh and Mr Prahlad Singh. Mr Amarjit Singh got it back for the Akalis in 1985 after the Congress won the seat in 1980. In 1992, Mr Karam Singh Gill won this seat on the Congress ticket while in 1997, it was Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon of the same party who triumphed. Now Mr Dhillon is facing his 1997 opponent, Jathedar Kirpal Singh Khirnia of the SAD, besides Mr Gurtej Pal Singh Bhagwanpura (Panthic Morcha), Mr Kamaljit Puri (SS), Mr Swaran Kumar (Nationalist Congress Party), and Ms Kulwant Kaur (BSP).

This constituency, according to its Returning Officer, Mr S.S. Brar, has 1,19, 553 voters and 141 polling booths without any very sensitive booths.

KHANNA: Spread over two districts and six subdivisions, this distinct constituency witnesses a tough fight between a former MP and the wife of a sitting MP. While Mrs Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, a former MP, is now contesting on the Shiromani Akali Dal ticket and opposing her is Mrs Harbans Kaur, wife of Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, who won this seat himself in 1992 but lost it to Mr Bachan Singh in 1997. In 1999, Mr Dulo was elected to the Lok Sabha.

Others in the contest are Mr Randhir Singh (Panthic Morcha), Mr Ram Singh (BSP), Mr Harnek Singh (Independent), Mr Gurdeep Singh (RLD), Mr Bhajan Singh (Independent) , Mr Amrik Singh (SS) and Mr Balraj Singh (Lok Bhalai Party).

Interestingly, the loser in one election had been the winner in the next here. For example, Mr Naurang Singh, Mr Bachhan Singh and Mr Shamsher Singh were the winners in their second attempt.

Both the Akalis and the Congress have been virtually taking turns in the Vidhan Sabha from here. In 1962, Mr Jagir Singh of the Congress won while in 1967 it went to Mr Naurang Singh of the Akali Dal. In 1972, it sent Mr Prithvi Singh Azad to the Vidhan Sabha while in 1977, Mr Bachhan Singh (Akali Dal), who had lost in 1972, defeated Mr Shamsher Singh. In 1980 Mr Shamsher Singh won but was defeated in 1985 by the Akali Dal nominee, Mr Sukhdev Singh. Mr Shamsher Singh wrested back the seat in 1992 but lost it again in 1997 to the Akali Dal candidate, Mr Bachhan Singh, in 1997.

There are, according to the Returning Officer, Mr Pradeep Sabharwal, 1,35, 231 voters in the constituency which has 167 polling booths without any very sensitive booth. 


Cong vows to tame Ghaggar
Tribune Reporters

Devigarh, February 9
The PPCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday said the Ghaggar and other rivers, which cause havoc in the district every year, would be tamed within one year through a World Bank scheme if the Congress comes to power.

Addressing a rally in favour of the Congress candidate, Mr Lal Singh, the PPCC chief said it was unfortunate that the Ghaggar and other rivers, including the Tangri and the Markanda, could not be tamed till now.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the issue had been taken up by the Patiala MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, but the SAD-BJP government did not do anything in this regard.

He said people of the constituency were suffering due to lack of employment opportunities for youngsters. He said special schemes to encourage investment in the state would be formulated.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Lal Singh also stressed upon a need for establishing industries in the constituency so that the problem of unemployment could be tackled effectively.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Addressing a rally at Bassi Pathana town in support of the Congress candidate from the Sirhind Assembly constituency, Dr Harbans Lal, Capt Amarinder Singh urged people to vote for the party. He said the Congress would scrap the Punjab Public Service Commission and the Subordinate Services Selection Board, which were the dens of corruption, and would amend the laws to curb corruption in the state.

He said rallies of even ordinary Congress workers attract more crowd than those addressed by the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister. He assured that the Congress would not make any tall promises with the people but work towards sorting out their problems and providing basic amenities.

He said the Congress would provide clean, corruption-free and a responsible government to the people.

The PPCC chief said it was shameful that more than 600 farmers in the state had committed suicide due to the “wrong policies of the government.” He said the answer to all problems was in generating alternative sources of the income, diversification of crop pattern and development of agro-based industries in the state.


Manmohan promises economic revival
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 9
A former Union Finance Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, while accusing the SAD-BJP government destroying Punjab’s economy said today the Congress, if voted to power, would revive it, inviting domestic and foreign investment in the industrial and agricultural sectors.

Dr Manmohan Singh, who was here to address an election rally for Mr Surinder Singla, the Congress candidate, said the party had fielded Mr Singla to make use of his expertise in economy.

The eminent economist said the SAD-BJP government should be ousted from Punjab as it had indulged in massive corruption and failed to check the deterioration of law and order.

He pointed out that Punjab Government never became able to chalk out constructive plans for the development of state. On the other hand, it had brought the state to the brink of bankruptcy by indulging in wasteful expenditure. On agricultural front, the Punjab Government failed to break the wheat-paddy cycle while on industrial front, lacking vision, they had failed to make use of information technology industry to generate employment in the state.

The SAD-BJP alliance, which made a lot of promises in 1997, had failed to implement the same. If they promised free power for agriculture, they failed to provide power. The Congress, would diversify agriculture, widen the industrial base, introduce crop insurance cut on wasteful expenditure, check the transmission and distribution loss and theft of power and make adequate use of biotechnology and information technology to put the economy back on rails.


Law Minister adds weight to Akali rallies
Ashok Kaura

Phillaur, February 9
Union Law Minister Arun Jaitly today refused to comment on the demand of Akali leader Simranjit Singh Mann to register cases against Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani and Congress President Sonia Gandhi under the Arms Act for “brandishing” swords in public rallies as the matter had gone to the high court.

Talking with this correspondent before addressing election rallies at Goraya and Behram in support of the SAD-BJP-BSM candidates, Mr Gurmit Singh Daduwal and Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, in Nakodar and Banga, respectively, Mr Jaitly said the Central Government could mediate in the controversial SYL canal issue if the Chief Ministers concerned requested it to do so.

When asked about delay in the common minimum programme of the Akali Dal and the BJP, which was scheduled to be released last week, Mr Jaitly said it was a routine delay and relations between the two parties were as strong as a rock.


Few women in fray
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 9
No woman has ever returned to the Vidhan Sabha or the Lok Sabha from all Assembly segments falling in the undivided Bathinda district

Information gathered by TNS revealed that in the 1957 Assembly elections only one woman, Paul Kaur, jumped into the election arena from the Phul constituency. The Assembly elections held in 1962, 1967, 1969 and 1972 did not find any woman contestant while in 1977, two women — Kusam Lata and Gurcharan Kaur — contested from the Bathinda and Nathana Assembly segments, respectively.

Though the conservative society of Bathinda started opening up by 1980 with Asia’s biggest cantonment and a unit of National Fertilizer Limited (NFL) set up here, only one woman, Surjeet Kaur, contested the Assembly election from Nathana in 1980. The number of women contestants rose to two in 1985 when Surjit Kaur and Bimal Kaur contested the elections from Rampuraphul and Pakka-Kalan constituencies, respectively.

In the 1992 Assembly elections, which were held under the shadow of militancy and boycotted by the mainstream Akalis, no woman of this region came into the fray while in 1997, two women, Surjit Kaur and Geeta Rani, contested from the Bathinda constituency.


Congress woman vs Akali men
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Kila Raipur, February 9
Woman power seems to have come handy for the Congress in the prestigious Kila Raipur constituency in Ludhiana district. For the first time the Congress has fielded a woman in this traditionally Akali stronghold. Mrs Gurdial Kaur Khangura is giving a tough time to the SAD candidate, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, and the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal.

Promising computer education, Mrs Khangura states in her meetings, ‘‘Victory or no victory, I will provide computers in high schools across 81 villages. I will ensure jobs for the youth of this constituency. All the money I have is for you.’’

‘‘Where earlier I said Latala is my native village, now I say that that I have 81 Latalas,’’ she tells villagers.

Most people contacted by The Tribune across Jodhan, Nangal Khurd, Lohgarh, Rurka, Jhangpur and Dhaipee do not readily believe that Mrs Khangura has spent 20 years in London. "O taan pind di lagdi ae te theth Punjabi boldi ae. Mainu ni lagda oho baarli ae," said Kulbir Singh of Jodhan, where she addressed a rally yesterday. Also to her advantage is the fact that she, being a fresher, has a clean image.

Among key issues being taken up by Mrs Khangura are women's welfare, child care and education. She told The Tribune, ‘‘Child care is important. I will issue medical cards to all children of my constituency. Also I will concentrate on roads.’’ She also plans to settle in Punjab for good.


A poll veteran since 1974
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, February 9
Electoral battle is not new to her. In a career spanning over a quarter of a century, the SAD candidate for the Chamkaur Sahib reserve constituency, Mrs Satwant Kaur Sandhu, has been a Cabinet minister in the outgoing government of the Akalis. She has been thrice voted to power in the reserved constituency, predominantly a rural belt.

She opted for a political career in 1974 when her husband Ajaib Singh Sandhu, a well-known political figure passed away. An Akali at heart, he was elected to power in the 1962 and 1972 elections and remained Deputy Leader of the Opposition in t“ I did not participate in the 1985 elections as my supporters urged me not to stand against Mrs Bimal Kaur Khalsa. She did not participate in the 1992 election when the Akalis boycotted the elections, giving way to the Congress candidate, Mr Shamsher Singh Rai, who is now contesting for the seat as an Independent.

She won in the 1977, 1980 and 1997 elections. This time, she is pitched against seasoned male candidate of the Congress, Mr Bhag Singh, and a rebel Congress candidate, Mr Shamsher Singh Rai.

A firm believer of the empowerment of the women, her priorities are to supplement potable water and provide water for irrigation in the Kandi belt, which had been declared a black area due to low ground water.

In her campaigns at Attari, Jasara, Daudpur, Sherpur, Panchpeda and Behrampur bet villages, she strikes a rapport with the ruralites while speaking in chaste Punjabi. She says, “ I am banking on the development work undertaken by the SAD government. Mr regular presence among my voters is my biggest asset”.


Politics serious business: Vinod Khanna
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 9
Bollywood star and Member Parliament Vinod Khanna said here this evening that there was neither a Congress wave nor an anti-incumbency factor in the state.

Addressing a rally for the SAD-BJP candidate from Phagwara, Mr Swarna Ram, Vinod Khanna said he was campaigning for the BJP as he was committed to the party. Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda, who were campaigning for the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, respectively, should first join the parties, he advised adding that politics was a serious business and not latka-jhatka of Hindi movies.

He also criticised the surveys and opinion polls being conducted by media and defended Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee's assertion that Sonia Gandhi was a foreigner.

Vinod Khanna warned Pakistan that in case it tried to create a mischief this time, the Indian forces would capture Islamabad and would not vacate it.

Amidst cheers from the crowds, he alleged that the Congress had committed a blunder in 1971 by returning the prisoners of war to Pakistan without getting the POK in the bargain.

In a typical filmi style, Vinod Khanna told the voters in chaste Punjabi to perform last rites of the Congress on February 13. ‘‘ Terwein kar do," he said.


Royal roots, an advantage
Tribune News Service

Aboard Helicopter, February 9
“Maharaja Sahib, the “ghori” (a ceremony of marriage in the Aggarwal community performed on the night before marriage) is not considered to be complete till the bridegroom pays his obeisance at the “samadh” of Baba Ala Singh, founder of the Phul dynasty and Patiala, located in a police station in Sardulgarh town of Mansa district,” said a shopkeeper of Sardulgarh town to Capt Amarinder Singh, when he reached the venue to address an election rally of the party candidate, Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar.

“Maharaja Sahib, tusin apne ghar aay ho, tuhanu vote mangan di koi lod nahin hai, eh sadda farz hai ki aasin tuhade candidate nu jitaa daiya,” said a speaker at the election rally of the Congress candidate, Mr Surinder Singh Sibia at Barnala.

Royalty seems to be finding roots in major parts of Malwa region of Punjab as Capt Amarinder Singh, known as Maharaja Patiala, has been feeling the same touch during his visits to various Assembly segments in this region. The old ties and “royal” roots seem to have turned into an advantage for Mr Amarinder Singh in fetching votes for party contestants from that section of electors, who did not fall into the traditional vote bank of party.

Besides royalty, the down to earth attitude and his frequent interaction with the people has also made him dearer to them.

Apart from committed party workers, the crowd in the election rallies also includes large number of people with “royal” connections. The people, who are coming to meet him will also secure the votes of their kith and kin for the Congress candidates,” he claimed.

Answering a question on what would be the first step of the Congress, if voted to power, so as to maintain the faith of the “followers” of Phul dynasty, Mr Amarinder Singh said, “The development and reconstruction of the economy would start from day one and would continue for the full term”.


Untiring candidate on wheelchair
Sushil Goyal

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 9
He is handicapped. But that does not stop him from campaigning daily from 9 am to midnight on a wheelchair. Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, the sitting MLA from Sangrur and a rebel SAD candidate, is contesting as an independent now from the same constituency.

Mr Balian, a former Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, who had resigned from the SAD and Mr Badal a ministry before entering the poll fray, seems to be an untiring campaigner.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Balian said he had campaigned from door-to-door in many villages, including Mangwal, Rasoolpur, Chhana, Chathe Sekhwan, Nagra, Kanoi and Tunga as well as in Sangrur and Bhawanigarh towns. He also claimed he had been weighed against coins, laddoos, and jalebis more than 100 times in the constituency.

Mr Balian was born in 1955 and graduated from Sangrur and became an MLA on the SAD ticket in 1985 from Sangrur for the first time. He was re-elected to the Punjab Assembly on the SAD ticket in 1997 and was appointed as minister of state in the Badal government on December 31, 1999. In an accident on October 26, 1997, near Narwana in Haryana, his spinal cord was damaged due to which he cannot walk.


Father’s work, her trump card
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Sunam, February 9
Blue tarpaulins cover the courtyard of every second home in the sleepy Chhaajla village. A caravan of vehicles comes to a screeching halt along the roadside. It is the entourage of the Congress candidate, Ms Sonia Arora, breathing life into the sleepy village.

In midst of her vote bank, it is business as usual as she goes about identifying the problems of each village, accepting appeals for help and building a rapport with villagers.

A novice in the political arena, her trump card is her father’s work in the constituency. Her father, Bhagwan Das Arora was an MLA from the constituency who died a year back. “Dhi, ais vaar asi tere bapu nu vote davange te tu jittengi. Agli vaar tere kam nu vote davange,” says a village elder.

With conviction, she takes on the SAD-BJP combine, though bad-mouthing and mud-slinging are not part of her agenda. Stressing on what she intends to do is the gist of her speech as the villagers start shouting Congress party zindabad.

Women, with faces half-covered with their shawls, only clap at these ‘nukkad’ meetings. Later, they speak out seeking assurances that their pensions and other benefits would flow in when the Congress takes over.

This is followed by weighing her against ladoos in a scale dressed in colours of the Congress. These are distributed by the sarpanch to the gathering after she leaves.


Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 9
Mr Suresh Sehgal, the wrestler-turned-politician who is the BJP candidate from the Jalandhar (North) constituency and is pitted against former minister and Congress heavyweight Avtar Henry, is a first timer with a difference. He sees no difference between a wrestling court and political arena.

Starting his political affiliations at the tender age of nine by becoming an RSS volunteer, Mr Sehgal pursued wrestling as his passion and at the same time rose to become a social worker, politician and finally the Mayor of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation in 1997.

An alumni of the local DAV College, he is banking upon several development works initiated by him, particularly, the sanctioning of a grant of Rs 26.11 crore by the Central Government for constructing the Domoria Bridge flyover during his tenure as Mayor, for luring the voters in the Jalandhar North constituency.

He was inspired to join politics by his father Raj Kumar Sehgal, who had been a local municipal councillor for past 40 years, and successfully contested the last elections of the Municipal Corporation for the first time to become Mayor.

Enlisting his poll promises, Mr Sehgal said he would ensure a house for every poor person in the constituency, besides pursuing developmental works like the construction of roads, provision of sufficient water supply and sewerage in all colonies, including the unregurlarlised ones, in the constituency.



Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Mahal Singh, the Congress candidate from the Baghapurana constituency in Moga district was weighed against coins and ladoos 29 times in various villages on Saturday. He was also presented a purse of Rs 1 lakh. OC

The district unit of the SAD (A) at a meeting held here on Friday decided to support Mr Hardev Singh Kahma, the Independent candidate from Nawanshahr, according to Mr Hargurbinder Singh Kahlon, the vice-president of the unit. OC

NAWANSHAHR: Mr Hardev Singh Kahma, the independent candidate from Nawanshahr, on Friday addressing election meetings claimed he was the “right choice” as besides being a resident of the area had been active in the field of social service. OC

FATEHGARH SAHIB: The sealing of the EVM to be used for polling on February 13 in the Sirhind constituency was done here on Saturday in presence of Mr Vikas Partap, District Election Officer, Mr R.Venkatraman, observer besides the agents of contesting candidates. Mr Vikas Partap informed that the EVMs to be used in the Amloh constituency, were also sealed at Mandi Gobindgarh. OC

The Delhi Chief Minister, Mrs Shiela Dikshit, on Friday said the mood of the people in Punjab was for a change, as they were fed up with corruption. She said, people wanted the Congress to form the government in the state. Addressing a rally at Chander Nagar in support of the Congress candidate from Ludhiana Rural, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Mrs Dikshit claimed the Congress had brought the state out of the dark phase of terrorism. TNS

A former Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr P.A. Sangma, had to interact with a few newspersons here as the election meeting, he was to address in the heart of the town, could attract even less than 50 people, including media and police personnel. The meeting was organised by the NCP in favour of its candidates for this constituency. Another former Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr Balram Jakhar, addressed election meetings in nine villages, including Haripura, Panniwala Mahla, Tootwala, Panjawa, Kallarkhera, Gidderanwali, Daulatpura, Khuyiansarwer and Sayeedwala. The block Congress president, Mr Balbir Singh Danewala, the Youth Congress president, Mr Rajesh Jakhar, accompanied. OC

MANSA: Addressing an election rally here on Saturday the party candidate, Mr Jodha Singh Mann from the Mansa constituency, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia President Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), claimed his was the only party to fight for the cause of common people without any vested interests. If his party was 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, he claimed. OC

The Punjab Radical Students Union has decided to boycott the forthcoming Assembly election in the state. This was stated by Mr Harbans Singh Sonu, treasurer the union, in a press note here on Saturday. OC

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, the SAD candidate was weighed on Saturday against coins at seven different rallies. Mr Aulakh said he would solve the problems of the town on a priority basis. OC

Mr Bhatti Pehalwan, Sarpanch of Suneya village along with some BJP leaders and their supporters decided to support Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Congress candidate from Batala. This was stated in a fax message on Saturday. OC


SAD’s development claims ‘false’
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 9
Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, who is campaigning for Congress candidates said here today said the claims development by the SAD-BJP government in Punjab were completely false if the development in the district was any indication.


GSP nominee for casteless society
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 9
Speakers at a rally in support of Mr Rajveer Singh Sidhu, candidate of the General Samaj Party (GSP) here, said the main reason for fielding their candidate was to create a platform for building a casteless society.

The rally was aimed at boosting the campaign of first-timer Mr Sidhu who is contesting as an Independent as the party is newly formed and not registered with the Election Commission.


BSF intensifies patrolling in border areas
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Bhikhiwind/Batala, February 9
The BSF has started intensive patrolling in all border towns where maximum migration of Hindus was reported during the days of militancy. It is keeping a close watch on the people visiting the border towns.

After a migrant labourer Ali Sher Khan was killed in the firing here a few days ago, the situation continued to be tense. Though a case under Section 302 of the IPC had been registered against the brother of Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, yet the Kairon family succeeded in getting a counter FIR registered against the complainant, Mr Tejpreet Singh, alias Peter, a Congress leader.

Though the state government had directed the district police chief to relieve the two DSPs, Mr Shamsher Singh and Mr Ashutosh of Patti and Bhikhiwind, respectively, yet they (the DSPs) continued to attend office. However, Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SP (Detective) said they would be relieved today.

On a complaint by Congress candidate Ashwani Sekhri jawans of the BSF have been deployed in sensitive parts in the border town of Batala.

It may be mentioned here that Tarn Taran district, which was created during the days of militancy, was considered as “mini Khalistan” at that time. Most of the self-styled chiefs of militant outfits belonged to the Tarn Taran area.

However, with the return of normalcy, the Hindus, who had migrated to safer places, returned to Bhikhiwind, Batala, and other border towns. Most of the Hindus interviewed by TNS said they would participate in the Assembly elections in a big way.


Warrior’s descendants to honour jawans
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Attari (Amritsar), February 9
The SAD-BJP government which had promised to give a governance on the pattern of the legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh failed to release Rs 5 lakh for the face-lifting of the memorial to Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala, a great warrior in the Maharaja’s regime, whose 156th death anniversary will be observed here tomorrow.

Tall promises notwithstanding, the government also failed to install a life-size statue of the great martyr along the Wagah-Lahore Road.

Attari is the birth place of Sardar Sham Singh who laid down his life for the country. Sardar Attariwala was one of the three celebrated generals of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the greatest hero of Sikh wars fought against the British in 1846. His daughter was married to crown prince Kanwar Naunihal Singh, grandson of the Maharaja.

As a mark of respect, descendants of the Sardar have raised a memorial near the entrance of the village which is being looked after by Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala. According to Lieut-Col Jagjit Singh Sidhu, a descendant of Sardar Sham Singh, Army jawans posted along the Indo-Pak border due to heightened tension in the region would be honoured at a function tomorrow. The kila of Sardar Sham Singh too is in a bad shape. Though Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during his first stint as Chief Minister, had laid the foundation stone in 1977, it has failed to come up even after so many years. 


NRI lodges complaint against 2 ministers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
A Punjabi NRI, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, settled in Australia, has petitioned the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to get his land vacated from one Jarnail Singh alias Gogi, who has illegally grabbed it, reportedly at the behest of two ministers, Mr Sarwan Singh Phillaur and Mr Ajit Singh Kohar.

The Chief Minister's Office has acknowledged the letter, dated, November 21, 2001. In response, an Under Secretary-cum-Officer on Special Duty, Mr K.K. Sachdeva, has asked Mr Dhillon to furnish an affidavit in support of the complaint that land was forcibly occupied with the assistance of two ministers, Mr Sarwan Singh Phillaur and Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, to enable the CMO to take further ''appropriate action in the matter''. The CMO letter is dated January 9.

Mr Dhillon in his complaint had stated that his land in village Kang Jagir, Tehsil Phillaur, Jalandhar district, was grabbed by Gogi, who at one stage had vacated it when the police asked him to do so. But later, backed by the two ministers, Gogi again illegally occupied the same.

Moreover, Mr Dhillon has said in his complaint, that his two brothers, Satpal Singh and Jaswir Singh were being implicated in false cases. The complaint admits that Gogi was not a party to land grab but had acted at the behest of the two ministers.

Mr Dhillon says he is a journalist working for several news papers.


Voting allowed with ration card, driving licence
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 9
The Election Commission of India has allowed all those voters who have not got made their photo identity cards to exercise their franchise in the ensuing Assembly poll in Punjab. However, they will have to present their identification in the form of a copy of their passport, driving licence, ration card or any identity card issued by a state government department before the Returning Officer concerned during the poll at any polling booth.

This was stated by Mr A. Venu Prasad, District Returning Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, in a press note issued here yesterday. Moreover, any minor mistake in the name, serial number, age or address of the voter in the issued photo identity card will be ignored in this regard. 


Campaigning for drug-free poll
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, February 9
Maqboolpura (the land of the famous) a residential area located on the outskirts of Amritsar, turned into a locality of widows and orphans as many men have lost their lives to drug addiction.

These widows (young and old) and orphans have pledged to work for drug-free elections. Having started their campaign on January 26, they reached here today.

A group of orphans, widows, ladies and social activists led by Citizen Forum Vidya Mandir, Amritsar in association with a social activist Mr Ajit Singh and his wife urge political parties to stop distribution of drugs to woo the voters and educating the voters not to sell their votes for drugs.


Gurdwara comes to border villagers’ aid
Our Correspondent

Maude (Indo-Pak border), February 9
Even as the state government promises to provide food and other facilities to villagers of the border belt of Ferozpore, Gurdaspur and Amritsar have proved hollow, Gurdwara Ishar Parkash Dheena has come forward to help the people. The locals who had moved to safer places due to heightened tension in the region, have returned but are hungry and penniless. They feel the state government has failed to come up to their expectations.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh Khera, a sevadar of the gurdwara, said a survey of the border belt areas had been undertaken. About 50,000 families had been affected and followers of Sant Baba Maan Singh and Sant Baba Mohan Singh had come forward to help them by providing 50 kg of flour and 10 kg of rice to each family. He claimed that they had already distributed flour and rice among about 5000 families and intended to cover more than 10,000 families in the next three months.

He said tea, peas, potatoes, ghee, sugar and blankets would be distributed in the next two consignments.

A number of villagers from adjoining villages said leaders were coming only to demand votes but had not extended a helping hand.


Widow gets Rs 1 lakh interim relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
Nearly 10 years after a Gurdaspur district resident was killed in police custody, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered the payment of Rs 1 lakh as interim compensation to the victim's widow within six months.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed by Ms Harjit Kaur of Adowali village in Batala tehsil, Mr Justice Goel also directed the crime branch of the Punjab police to look into the matter.

In her petition, Ms Harjit Kaur had alleged that her husband Harjinder Singh was taken into custody after a police party from Batala raided their house on April 2, 1992. Her counsel had added that news reports appearing in papers on April 10, 1992, had informed them that Harjinder Singh was killed in an encounter the previous day. The investigating agency, on the other hand, had denied the allegations. Arguing before the court, its counsel had claimed that Harjinder Singh was killed in an attack by terrorists on a police party the victim was allegedly accompanying.

After going through the record and hearing arguments in the case, the Judge ruled: "The fact remains that Harjinder Singh died when he was in police custody and the police cannot be absolved of its responsibility. I, however, do not express any final view on the matter. Let the crime branch look into the matter. The state of Punjab will, meanwhile, pay Rs 1 lakh to the widow of the deceased within six months which will be without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties".


Jobs for 16 terrorist victims
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 9
The Department of Relief and Resettlement in its first instalment has released a list of 16 candidates from the terrorist victim quota who were given jobs in Ludhiana district.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who received the government order today after she worked relentlessly for the cause of the dependants of terrorist violence, revealed that her meeting with the Chief Minister and the Secretary Punjab, with a deputation of such children awaiting jobs had proved fruitful.

The order, dated February 4, has given class IV jobs on a priority basis to 14 boys and two women.


Liquor men revolt

LIQUOR contractors have raised a banner of revolt against the Excise and Taxation Department. They say that illicit liquor was flowing like river in the current elections and sales of their shops had touched an all-time low. Contractors allege that the police was not taking any action, though it had been given definite clues about the illicit liquor operations going on in the Majha belt.


Illicit distillation of liquor: 5 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 9
The police has arrested five persons allegedly involved in distillation of illicit liquor and seized an illegal distillery, 300 kg lahan and 13 bottles of illicit liquor.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said in a press note issued here today that Gurdev Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Mithu Singh were arrested when they were distilling liquor at Phulewala village.

They were caught red-handed and 300 kg lahan and four bottles of illicit liquor were seized from them. A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered at Phul police station. During interrogation they revealed that they had been in the business of illicit liquor distillation for the past many years.

Bhura Singh of Balianwali was arrested from near Daulatpura village for possessing six bottles of illicit liquor. A case has been registered at Balianwali police station under the Excise Act.

Tej Singh of Samana in Sangrur district was arrested from near Tarkhanawala village for allegedly carrying eight bottles of illicit liquor. He too, has been booked under the Excise Act and a case has been registered at Raman police station.

Dr Jain said a special checking drive had been launched in the district in view of the Assembly elections in the state.


60 polytechnics planned
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 9
The national coordinator of the Community Polytechnic Scheme, Prof S. K. Chopra, said today that under the expansion policy of the scheme. 60 more community polytechnics were proposed to be opened by the Central Government, during the current financial year.

Addressing newspersons after a meeting of the advisory committee of the Community Polytechnic at nearby Palahi village, Prof Chopra said at present there were 617 such polytechnics in the country. The decision about the expansion was taken at a meeting of state Secretaries of Technical Education held in New Delhi and presided over by the Secretary, Department of Secondary and Higher Education, Human Resources Development Ministry.

During the 10th five-year plan, the HRD Ministry had also proposed to increase extension centres from five to 10 in each community polytechnics.

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