Sunday, February 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

1st Punjab result by 10.30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Even as the arrangements for counting of votes tomorrow have been completed for the 116 Punjab Vidhan Sabha seats, the ruling SAD has written to the Election Commission seeking adequate deployment of the paramilitary forces at 36 “sensitive” counting stations. A similar request has been received from the Congress, besides several contestants.

The counting will commence at 8 a.m. As the entire polling was conducted through EVMs, the first result is expected around 10.30 a.m.

The Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Ms Usha R Sharma, says adequate security arrangements have been made even though the district police chiefs have been given the discretion to deploy additional forces, if need be.

The state election office is to receive all results on the specially installed “hotlines” to all 17 district election officers (Deputy Commissioners) which are further linked to all 116 returning officers by “hotlines”. The Election Commission has deputed an observer each in the 116 counting stations. Meanwhile, Commission Secretary K.R. Prasad is arriving in Chandigarh on February 25 to issue the official notification, constituting the 12th Vidhan Sabha. Earlier, the result card used to be sent to Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi.

In all 918 candidates were in the fray. The key contenders are the ruling SAD and the Congress. While the former has put up 91 candidates, the number of the Congress candidates is 105. The Akalis’ alliance partner, the BJP contested 23 seats and the Congress’ partner, CPI, 10. The CPM is contesting 13 seats. Others in the fray include the Panthic Morcha, contesting 84 seats on the name and election symbol of the SAD headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, the BSP fielded its candidates on 99 seats. Independents number 271.

It may be recalled that two former Chief Ministers, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, are in the fray from Muktsar and Lehra Gagga in Sangrur, respectively, besides the sitting Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi in Muktsar.

The PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, is contesting from Patiala.

Given internal squabbles in the two main political parties, the SAD and the Congress, a large number of “rebel” candidates are also contesting. 


Cong MLAs may elect leader on Feb 25
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 23
The Congress Legislature Party in Punjab is likely to meet in Chandigarh on February 25 to elect its new leader. Apart from AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, who is in charge of Punjab, the meeting will be attended by Mr Ahmed Patel who has been made a central observer.

Sources said AICC general secretary Ambika Soni was also likely to be present in Chandigarh along with AICC secretary B K Hariprasad for the meeting. Anticipating a victory in the poll, party leaders are forseeing a smooth election of the CLP leader. If the party gets a majority in the poll, the CLP leader would be sworn-in as the Chief Minister.

The sources said if there was no unanimity over the choice of the leader, opinion of MLAs would be ascertained. If the issue still remains unresolved, the choice of the leader might also be left to the Congress president.

Though the high command has said that a decision on the new leader will be taken by the newly-elected MLAs, PCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh is believed to be the frontrunner for the post. He has been closely associated with the entire poll effort of the party and had a major say in the distribution of the ticket.

Besides Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and party MP Jagmeet Singh Brar have met senior party leaders over the past few days to convey their views.

Ms Ambika Soni, whose name was also doing the rounds as a choice for the leader in case the party was voted to power, has ruled out the possibility of her returning to the state. Sources said Capt Amarinder Singh would host a lunch for newly-elected MLAs in Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, the meeting of the newly-elected Congress MLAs of Uttaranchal is likely to be held on February 28.

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