Monday, February 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Capt Kanwaljit wins see-saw battle
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 24
Seniormost Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Local Bodies Minister Balramji Das Tandon and three-time legislator and former minister Brahm Mohindra lost even as Capt Kanwaljit Singh scraped through and the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, cruised through with a handsome margin from the district.

As expected Capt Amarinder Singh sailed through winning the Patiala town seat by a margin of more than 33,000 votes against Sarup Singh Sehgal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The PPCC President was able to win by a handsome margin despite the fact that the seat had recorded a voting percentage of only 51 per cent. Against 46,750 votes polled by Capt Amarinder Singh, the SAD candidate could poll only 12, 167 votes.

Mr Tandon, who had won by a narrow margin of 800 votes against Congressman Raj Khurana in the last polls in which he was projected as the future Deputy Chief Minister by the Akali - BJP combine, faced a humiliating defeat this time losing the seat to Mr Khurana by a margin of more than 16,000 votes. Mr Tandon polled 30,724 votes against 47,474 votes polled by Raj Khurana.

In the Samana constituency, former Congress minister Brahm Mohindra, who was shifted from his traditional seat of Patiala to accommodate Capt Amarinder Singh, lost by a margin of more than 10,000 votes to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Surjit Singh Rakhra. The Congress candidate was able to poll only 35,895 votes against 46,677 votes polled by Mr Rakhra. Independent candidate and dissident Congressman Harinderpal Singh Mann polled 15,000 votes.

The Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, faced a see-saw battle against first timer and former zila parishad Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sohi’s widow Sheelam before defeating her by a margin of about 700 votes. Both candidates were engaged in a see-saw battle with leads changing at nearly every round. While Capt Kanwaljit Singh polled 50,986 votes, Sheelam Sohi polled 50,272 votes.

There were other upsets galore in the district with SAD ministers Raja Narinder Singh and Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur losing from the Nabha and Ghanour seats. Raja Narinder Singh was upstaged by youth leader and former minister Gurdarshan Singh’s son Randeep Singh who won on the Congress ticket by a margin of almost 14,000 votes. Dissident Congressman and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Ramesh Singla came in third a little behind Raja Narinder Singh. While Randeep Singh polled 37,453 votes, Raja Narinder Singh polled 23,502 votes and Ramesh Singla polled 20,000 votes. In Ghanaur Mukhmailpur was upset by former Congress minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa by nearly 12,000 votes. While Mukhmailpur polled 29,339 votes, Randhawa polled 40,921 votes.

Former Congress minister Lal Singh defeated former MP and SAD candidate Charanjit Singh Walia by a margin of nearly 16,000 votes from the Dakala seat. While Mr Lal Singh polled 38,421votes, Mr Walia polled 22,597 votes. In the lone Shutrana (reserved) seat which was contested by the CPI with the support of the Congress, the CPI candidate Ram Chand came in third behind Nirmal Singh of the SAD and Independent candidate and former minister Hamir Singh Ghagga. While Mr Nirmal Singh got 34,122 votes, Mr Ghagga polled 18,567 votes and Mr Ram Chand polled 15,311 votes.


Tohra wiped out in his bastion
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 24
Once considered the de facto ruler of Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts, former Shiromani SGPC President and Panthic Morcha leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra has virtually been wiped out in his bastion in the assembly elections.

The veteran leader remained most effective in his home constituency of Amloh in which Tohra village falls managing to get 13,309 votes for Harnek Singh Deewana, the Panthic Morcha candidate. However, even in this constituency Deewana was much behind the SAD candidate and a former Tohra loyalist Gurdev Singh Sidhu who secured 26,633 votes. The winner — Sadhu Singh of the Congress, was much ahead with 45,383 votes and could not have been defeated even if the votes of the SAD and the Panthic Morcha candidate had been arraigned against him. In neighbouring Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib district, the Panthic Morcha candidate, Iman Singh Mann, son of veteran Akali leader Simranjit Singh Mann, trailed far behind the SAD candidate securing only 19,235 votes. SAD candidate Didar Singh Bhatti, who was touted as a political novice who only had the advantage of the SAD ticket was able to secure 32,528 votes and lost to Congress candidate Harbans Lal by a margin of little over 3,000 votes.

In Patiala district, Tohra could do little to make any of his candidates finish second or even be in a position to spoil the chances of the SAD candidates. In Patiala town Panthic Morcha candidate Jaswinder Paul Singh Chaddha was able to secure only 725 votes. Similarly the Panthic Morcha candidate — Dalip Singh Sooch, polled only 2,412 votes compared to SAD candidate Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur who secured 29,339 votes. Though the Panthic Morcha candidates fared better in other constituencies, they were outstripped by independents in few of the constituencies of the district.

In the Samana constituency sitting MLA Jagtar Singh Rajla could secure only 7,773 votes compared to the showing of Independent candidates and dissident congressman Harinderpal Singh Mann who polled more than 15,000 votes. Similarly in the Dakala constituency, the foster son of the former SGPC chief — Harmail Singh Tohra secured only 9,317 votes compared to the showing of Amarjyot Singh Punia, son of Excise and Taxation Officer Gurwans Singh Punia who polled more than 17,000 votes.

In Nabha the Panthic Morcha candidate was placed at number four behind Randeep Singh of the Congress, Raja Narinder Singh of the SAD and Ramesh Singla of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). While Randhir Singh Rakhra polled 7,796 votes, his nearest rival Ramesh Singla polled over 22,000 votes. Similarly in Shutrana, Panthic Morcha candidate Mangat Singh came in sixth behind the SAD, CPI, BSP and two Independent candidates. While the SAD candidates got 34,123 votes, he was able to bag only 6,506 votes. 


Calls meeting on March 2
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 24
Even as security of all seven candidates of the Panthic Morcha was forfeited in the district, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has convened an emergency meeting of his party at Ludhiana on March 2 to do introspection in the wake of the miserable performance of the morcha in the Assembly elections.

Commenting on the defeat of his party, Mr Tohra said it was a foregone conclusion and the Panthic Morcha expected to win only four seats. However, he claimed that Mr Harmeet Singh Sandhu and Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur who had contested as Independent candidates from Tarn Taran and Dhariwal constituencies, respectively, had won with the active support of the Panthic Morcha.

The candidates of the Panthic Morcha whose security deposits were forfeited included Mr Ranjit Singh Chajjalwadi and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta — both sitting MLAs — could get only 8,031 and 1,657 votes, respectively. While Mr Lakhwinder Singh (Rajasansi constituency) got only 564 votes, Ms Rajpinder Kaur (Attari) got 2,108 votes, Mr Manjit Singh (Valtoha) secured 1,597 votes, Mr Sohan Lal Amrohi (Amritsar-West) got only 1,227 votes, Mr Manjit Singh (Amritsar-North) got 677 votes, Mr Baldev Singh Sirsa (Ajnala) secured 1,397 votes, Mr Surinder Singh secured 510 votes from the Verka constituency and Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) got only 616 votes. However, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, who contested on the Panthic Morcha ticket from Patti secured 11,396 votes.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former SGPC secretary and a senior leader of the Panthic Morcha who failed to save his security deposit, admitted that the voters had rejected his party during the elections. He said going by history of poll in the state, the voters had always voted for the mainstream Akali Dal. He said there were responsive crowds in the election rallies of the Panthic Morcha but they did not vote for his party as the morcha could not emerge as the third alternative in the state.


Detailed Assembly poll results

Sukhjinder Singh (INC) 46,739 (W), Sukhjit Singh (SAD) (M) 1,238, Nirmal Singh (SAD) 39,287.

Ashwani (INC) 47,933 (W), Kulwant Singh (BSP) 1,252, Jagdish Sawhney (BJP) 34,405, Avinash Kumar (SHS) 573, Amarjit Singh (Ind) 235, Parbodh Chand (Ind) 228.

Amarjit Singh (SAD) (M) 1,402, Jagir Singh (BSP) 1,646, Tript Rajinder Singh (INC) 46,902 (W), Natha Singh (SAD) 39,948, Raman Kumar (SHS) 1,090.

Jathedar Kashmir Singh Bariyar (SAD) (M) 2,347, Gurnam Singh (CPI) 4,205, Capt Balbir Singh (SAD) 27,836 (W), Mangal Singh (BSP) 1,419, Nirmal Singh (BSP) (A) 283, Harbhajan Singh Sokala (Ind) 1,608, Dr Daljit Singh (Ind) 9,595, Piara Singh Ghuman (Ind) 3,813, Fateh Jang Singh (Ind) 16,337.

Sewa Singh Sekhwan (SAD) 37,735, Johar Singh (SAD) (M) 577, Partap Singh Bajwa (INC) 44,540 (W), Ajit Singh Thakur Sandhu (Ind) 1,636, Kartar Singh (Ind) 209, Narinder Masih (Ind) 496

Salamat Masih (Inc) 16,108 Sucha Singh Langah (SAD) 32,362, Darshan Lal (LJNSP) 1246, Sucha Singh (Ind) 32,442 (W).

Khushal Bahl (Inc) 34,442 (W), Jaspal Singh BSP 3054, Majid Masih (SAD) (M) 471, Munawar Masih (SAD) 23.751, Sukhwinder Singh (PBLP) 686, Jaswinder Singh (LJNSP) 653, Narinder Singh (Ind) 10601, Vijay Kumar (Ind) 4728.

Aruna (INC) 36,765(W), Satpal (SAD) (M) 935, Sita Ram (BJP) 34,083, Sulekha Rani (BSP) 1898, Jiwan Lal (SHS) 1176, Hari Ram (Ind) 1658.

Shiv Kumar (BSP) 4461, Bishambar Dass (BJP) 21,594, Raj Kumar (NCP) 928, Rumal Chand (INC) 32,107(W), Sat Pal (SHS) 1168, Kali Dass (RRD) 643, Ram Pal (PBLP) 1869, Lubhaya Ram (LJNSP) 762, Hazari Lal (Ind) 1445, Ram Lal (Ind) 6845.

Ashok Sharma (INC) 45,073(W), Thakur Keshav Dass (BSP) 1080, Mahinder (NCP) 478, Master Mohal Lal (BJP) 27,709, Col. Inderjit Gupta (RRD) 943,

Thakur Parveen Singh Manhas, (SHS), 3887.

Satya Pal Saini, (BJP), 30,496, Sudha Rani (CPM), 841, Som Raj (BSP), 2762, Raghunath Sahai Puri (INC), 48, 740 (W), Rattan Chand (NCP), 693, Jagdish Raj (SHS), 1369.

Sukhdev Singh Daul (BSP), 1722, Jasbir Singh Gill (INC), 45,832 (W), Manjinder Singh Kang (SAD), 39,382, Ram Singh (SAD) (M) 616, Kanwaljit Kaur (Ind), 148, Nazar Singh (Ind), 1872, Manjinder Singh (Ind), 428, Lakha Singh Azad (Ind) 551.

Satnam Singh (BSP), 2,006, Swinder Singh (INC), 41,072 (W), Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha (SAD), 38, 874, Jaspal (Ind), 1186.

Arjun Singh Mattu (NCP), Satpal Singh (BSP), Surinder Singh (SAD) (M), Tarsem Singh (CPM), Dalbir Singh (SAD), Raj Kumar (INC), Amarjit Kaur (BSP) (A), Satnam Singh (Ind), Ravail Singh (Ind).

Sardul Singh (INC), 45,599 (W), Tarsem Singh (NCP), 2029, Malkiat Singh (SAD), 37,866, Gurmeet Kaur (BSP) (A), 2175.

Jugal Kishore Sharma (INC), 21,024 (W).

Baldev Raj Chawala (BJP) 16,268, Manjit Singh (SAD-M) 677, Ravinder Kumar Hans (BSP) 631, Shashi Pal (ABHM) 53, Ashwani (Ind) 50, Hardip Sharma (Ind) 105, Nirmala Rani (Ind) 105, Raman Sharma (Ind) 94, Ram Lubhaya (Ind) 456.

Om Parkash (BJP) 10,527, Amarjit Singh (CPI) 21,791, Sohan Lal (SAD-M) 1,227, Captain Rajinder (NCP) 2,130, Vimal (BSP) 795, Col J.S. Bal (retd) (RRD) 589, Om Parkash Soni (Ind) 45,331 (W), Jatinder Pal Singh (Ind) 1,208.

Darbari Lal (INC) 24,286 (W), Ram Lal (BSP) 1,328, Laxmi Kanta Chawla (BJP 18,115, Varinder Kumar (FBI) 192, Ashok Kumar (Ind) 242.

Harjinder Singh Thekedar (INC) 23,332 (W), Kirpal Singh (SAD) 17,005, Manjit Singh Calcutta (SAD-M) 1,657, Hardip Singh Lalli (RJD) 160, Gurcharan Singh (PBLP) 207, Faquir Chand (LJNSP) 475, Dr Mukhtiar Singh (LBP) 215, Avtar Singh Boparai (Ind) 142, Sathi Kirpal Singh (Ind) 106, Kuldip Mahajan (Ind) 122, Gulzar Singh (Ind) 67, Jasbir Singh Sham (Ind) 576, Manjit Singh Manzil (Ind) 576, Raminder Singh (Ind) 19,232.

Gurmukh Singh BSP 967, Baldev Singh Sirsa (SAD-M) 1397, Dr Rattan Singh (SAD) 47,182 (W) Ravi Rajbir Singh (INC) 5926, Harpartap Singh (Ind) 46,826.

Joginder Singh (BSP) 2570, Lakhwinder Singh (SAD-M) 564, Vir Singh Lopoke (SAD) 42,238 (W), Surjit Kaur (SAP) 817, Kuldip Singh (BSP-A) 559, Sukhbinder Singh (Sukh Sarkaria) (Ind) 38,785

Sukhwant Jit Kaur (BSP) 2193, Gulzar Singh Khasa (NCP) 773, Gulzar Singh Ranike (SAD) 43,740 (W), Rattan Singh (INC) 19,521, Rajpinder Kaur (SAD-M) 210-9, Surjit Singh (JD-S) 317, Puran Singh (BSP-A) 868

Sukhdev Singh (INC) 14,940, Manjit Singh (SAD) 37,200 (W), Ranjit Singh (SAD-M) 8031, Sarbjit Singh (BSP-A) 1632, Dalbir Singh (SPSP) 445, Harinder Singh (Ind) 6484, Dalbir Singh (Shekhfatta) (Ind) 1203.

Jagir Singh (INC) 30,219, Nirvair Singh (NCP) 806, Ranjit Singh (SAD) 36,153 (W), Swaran Singh (BSP-A) 1682.

Adesh Partap Singh Kairon (SAD) 44,703 (W), Harminder Singh (SAD-M) 11,396, Tarlok Singh (INC) 23,324, Sukhchain Singh (BSP-A) 1609.

Gurchet Singh (INC) 39,064 (W), Gurdial Singh (SAD) 34,119, Balwinder Singh (CP) 743, Manjit Singh (SAD-M) 1597, Jaswant Singh (Ind) 313, Tara Singh (IND) 399, Paramjit Singh (Ind) 1206.

Sarabjit Singh Makkar (SAD) 25,243, Sarabjit Singh (SAD-M) 2006, Sukhvir Singh (BSP) 14090, Kanwaljit Singh Lally (INC) 32,619(W), Aruna Alias Rura Gill (DBSP) 434, Harjinder Singh (LBP) 306, Gurcharan Singh (SP) 347, Surinder Singh (Ind) 240, Kuldeep Singh (Ind) 169, Gurdial Singh (Ind) 6343, Paramjeet Singh (IND) 710.

Hardev Kaur Shant (BSP) 11,020, Gurkanwal Kaur (INC) 29,160(W), Jagjit Singh (SAD-M) 1343, Paramjit Singh (SAD) 18,307, Avtar Singh (JD-S) 144 Sukhbir Singh (LJNSP) 144, Dr Paramjit Singh Marwah (LBP) 459, Manjit Kaur (BSP-A) 172, Dr H.S. Rajan (IND) 217, Jagdish Kumar (IND) 443, Balwinder Kaur (IND) 202, Engineer Mahabir (IND) 243, Ranjit Singh (IND) 449,

Avtar Henry (INC) 41,856 (W), Suresh Sehgal (BJP) 19,489, Som Nath (BSP) 2641, Subhash (LJNSP) 161, Kuldeep (BSP-A) 86, Parshotam Chand (SHS) 173, Palwinder Kaur (DBSP) 65, Surinder Kumari (IND) 82, Vijay Shakti (IND) 347

Jagjit Singh Sandhu BSP 1256, Joginder Singh Toni (NCP) 2449, Manoranjan Kalia (BJP) 22,355, Raj Kumar Gupta (INC) 30,066 (W), Bikram Singh JD (U) 299, Rajnish Kumar Gupta NITU (SHS) 98, Ravinder Gill (DBSP) 132, Surinder Kumar (IND) 79, Harkomaljeet Singh (IND)155, Jai Kishan Saini (IND) 6037, Raj Kumar (IND) 269,

Chuni Lal Bhagat (BJP) 24,046, Pawan Kumar Tinu (BSP) 21,382, Mohinder Singh (INC) 34,869(W), Sucha Singh (SHS) 632, Jaswinder Singh Billa (DBSP) 318, Prabh Dayal Bhagat BSP (A) 719.

Avinash Chander BSP 10,158, Charnjit Singh Atwal SAD 34,887, Chaudhry Jagjit INC 39,010 (W), Nirmal Singh SAD (M) 625, Tarjinder Kumar SHS 387, Master Baldev Singh DBSP 475, Rajpal Sondhi BSP (A) 666.

Ajit Singh Kohar SAD 48,787 (W), Paramjit Singh CPM 1199, Brij Bhupinder Singh Lally INC 43,612, Mota Singh Dhesi SAD (M) 617, William Johan BSP 654, Udham Singh Aulakh SP 502, Pritam Chand BSP (A) 622, Amarjit Singh (Ind) 180, Karnail Singh (Ind) 939.

Amarjit Singh Samra INC 45,216 (W), Harbhajan Singh BSP 12,958, Gurmeet Singh Daduwal SAD 29,749, Rajinder Singh Sihota NCP 271, Inderjit Kaur BSP (A) 286, Sucha Singh Johal SP 1736, Prem Dass DBSP 286, Yash Pal Dhir SHS 796

Kashmir Singh CPM 2693, Gurdip Singh SAD 26,331, Gurbinder Singh INC 35,610 (W), Paramit Singh SAD (M) 3428, Mohinder Pal Singh BSP 11,757, Kuljit Singh SP 466, Kulwant Singh BSP 280, Bahadur Singh PBLP 1320. Ajit Singh (IND) 2264, Harjinder Singh (IND) 2315.

Avtar Chand (CPM) 1336, Tarlochan Singh (INC) 27,574 (W), Mohan Lal (BSP) 23,919, Satnam Singh Kainth (DBSM) 23, 664, Baldev Singh Ghai (PBLP) 1119, Gulshan Rai (IND) 363, Baldev Singh Bika (IND) 1268.

Parkash Singh (INC) 32,667(W), Ram Kishan (BSP) 27, 321, Resham Singh (SAD) 17, 119, Sohan Singh (LBP) 796, Hardev Singh (IND) 385, Hardev Singh Kahma (IND) 20,252, Tarsem singh (IND) 287, Daljit Singh (IND) 1493, Nasib Chand (IND) 827.

Amir Chand (SAD-M) 1202, Sarwan Singh (SAD) 28,915, Santokh Singh Choudhary (INC) 33,570 (W), Dev Raj Sandhu (BSP), 21,026, Nanak Dass (LJNSP) 701, Vijay Kumar (SHS) 439, Darshan Kataria (IND) 221, Dr Major Singh (IND) 710.

Sukhpal Singh (INC) 30,559, Kuldeep Singh (BSP) 986, Jagir Kaur (SAD) 41,937 (W), Amar Nath (DBSP) 403, Dilbagh Rai (BSP-A) 191, Bachan Singh (LBP) 644, Gurwinder Singh (IND) 279, Ravel Singh (IND) 718.

(Results incomplete)


Cong has many vows to fulfil
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
There is change of political guard in Punjab. The Congress is in with a simple majority. The SAD-BJP is out. Waiting for attention are the administrative, financial and economic reforms.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal has submitted his resignation to the Governor.

The Congress today won 62 seats and its ally, the CPI, only one. The newly elected Congress MLAs will meet here on Tuesday to elect their leader to be later sworn in as the Chief Minister.

The people of Punjab have given their verdict in favour of two main political rivals for power, the Congress and the Akalis, and consigned the lesser or unknown parties or combinations, thereof, to the dustbin. Those who have met that fate include the BSP and the conglomeration of several outfits, the Panthic Morcha, both having failed to open their account.

While the SAD won 41 seats, against 75 in 1997, its coalition partner, the BJP bagged just three seats against 18 in 1997.

The number of Independents who have won are nine and include two Congressmen, six SAD rebels and one who owes allegiance to the Panthic Morcha but did not contest on the SAD (Mann) symbol like the rest of 84.

Contrary to the exit poll predictions and outlandish surveys and opinion polls, the final tally shows that in all 116 Assembly constituencies for which the elections were held, the contests were close and neck and neck. (The election in one, Malout, was adjourned following death of an Akali candidate, Mr Sujan Singh, who was a minister.)

In the first few hours of the commencement of counting of votes once the electronic machines were unsealed, the trends and hurriedly announced results sent shivers in the Congress camp. In fact, utter confusion and excitement was seen in the cramped state election office also, where media persons virtually made it impossible for the officials on duty to communicate on the hotlines to all 17 districts or compute results correctly. There was many a guffaw and slip-up's with frantic cellphone calls being made to the newsrooms, asking for amends and corrections.

The results have amply shown that rural constituencies have stood behind the Akali government and the presence of the Panthic Morcha candidates and fast-pace campaign but its leaders, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, failed to make any dent in the vote bank of the ruling Akali Dal. Interestingly, if the BJP, which faced complete rout in the urban constituencies, managed to win just three seats, Garhshankar, Ferozepore and Hoshiarpur, it was mainly due to the large number of villages falling in the three constituencies. That, political observers said, was an indicator that the much hyped “anti-incumbency” factor did not affect the rural electors as much as it affected the urban voters, who were swayed by the reports of the electronic media and a section of the print media.

Even corruption, it seems, did not impact the polling. Perhaps, the only factor that ultimately swung the poll pendulum in favour of the Congress was the refrain of change that people wanted and the impression created by the Congress’ shrill ad-campaign promising a “clean” administration.

The Akalis, therefore, will, form a formidable opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, unlike in 1997 when it literally bulldozed its way into the centre-stage politics with the Opposition reduced to a miniscule number. The Congress strength in the outgoing Vidhan Sabha was just 14.

Though it is too early to say how the Congress would go about attending to the weighty matters of the state but the first challenge has already been thrown to the next government. Mr Badal in his press conference at his residence after return from Punjab Raj Bhavan having submitted his resignation said the first promise that Capt Amarinder Singh should fulfil was to honour the party commitment of getting farmers Rs 30 per quintal as bonus on the paddy.

“My government had disbursed Rs 100 crore to farmers after the paddy had been procured”, he said, adding that much would depend on what the new government does to protect the interests of the farmers in terms of minimum support price of wheat, its procurement and transportation.

Mr Badal also assured Capt Amarinder Singh of full cooperation when it came to protecting the interests of the state and its people. On the outcome of the poll results, Mr Badal accepted the verdict of the people in “profound humility”. He did not specify in real terms the factors that led to the ouster of his government at the end of five years though he had used performance as the main poll plank, but he did not mince words to say that the real crucification was done by the media towards the fag end of the campaign by coming up with unrealistic, exaggerated opinion and survey poll reports that tilted the balance. Mr Tohra told TNS that he had no regrets that all candidates put up by the Panthic Morcha had been defeated. “It will not affect my political career or that of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann. Ours was a fight based on certain principles. We were not opposing Mr Badal just for nothing. We wanted him to bow before Akal Takht and reinstate Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar. It is also time that smaller, regional parties got together to work collectively. I have no great hopes from the Congress either”, he added.

Mr Tohra had met the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr G. S. Cheema, to express his anguish at the way the administration in Sangrur was siding with the SAD candidate.

Punjab today is like a frozen tear. The script of the sob story of the state has been written jointly by the politicians and the bureaucrats. Total lack of vision has placed the state’s economy in a vortex. Therefore, the tasks ahead for the Congress are difficult. Even the people have put high hopes on the Congress to mitigate their sufferings, put the economy back on the rails and give them a governance that is effective, efficient, responsive and accountable.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who is expected to be elected the Leader of the Congress Legislative Party, has promised to do just that. 


SAD-BJP used unfair means, says Jakhar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 24
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar has said mandate given by the electorate should be accepted without any reservation.

Commenting on the election results at his new grain market complex here today, Mr Jakhar said it was really unfortunate that the SAD and BJP leaders had levelled unfounded allegations against media with reference to opinion polls. Surprisingly, the same leaders were jubilant when a section of the media had termed Mr Parkash Singh Badal as number one Chief Minister of the state. They spent lakhs of rupees from the government treasuries on taking mileage out of that. Media in India had played a vital role in safeguarding democracy and building the nation, he said. In fact, the SAD and BJP leadership, perturbed by the opinion polls, had allegedly “drained money amassed in the past five years” on influencing the electorate during the last week of campaigning. This might have adversely affected chances of Congress candidates in certain constituencies. The results would have definitely been different had the ruling alliance not resorted to unfair means, he said.

The former Union Minister was not spared by enthusiastic workers who played Holi today outside the complex. They also held a procession over the victory of his youngest son with a sizable margin of 7339 votes. Of the total 96052 votes, Mr Sunil Kumar Jakhar (Congress) polled 37,552 against 30,213 polled by party rebel Sudhir Nagpal. The sitting MLA, Dr Ram Kumar Goel (BJP), who had won the last Assembly election with a margin of 15 votes, this time secured 22,154 votes only. The BSP candidate, Ms Charan Kamal Kaur Jakhar, got 2,035 votes only and lost her security deposit. Out of 18 postal ballots received by the Returning Officer, 14 were rejected. It was clear that even the BJP candidate had fallen victim to internal sabotage from the ranks that played community card in favour of an Independent candidate from the Arora community. Mr Jagdish Nagpal, state president of the Arorvansh Sabha and district president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said in an interview yesterday that they had extended support to Mr Nagpal. 


Akali rebels beat 2 ministers
Tribune News Service

Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Akali rebel who defeated sitting the MLA and Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, by a margin of 2,659 votes, at Rampuraphul on Sunday.
Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Akali rebel who defeated sitting the MLA and Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, by a margin of 2,659 votes, at Rampuraphul on Sunday.
— photo Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, February 24
Two Akali rebel candidates, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu from the Talwandi Sabo Assembly segment, and Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar from Rampuraphul, today sprang a surprise by defeating official candidates of the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance.

Mr Kangar defeated the SAD-BJP alliance candidate and Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, by a margin of 2,659 votes. The Congress candidate, Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu was third. He secured 17,138 votes. Mr Kangar secured 40,303 votes while Mr Malooka polled 37,644 votes.

Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu sprang a major surprise by defeating the sitting MLA and Congress candidate, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi by a margin of 237 votes. Mr Mohan Singh Bangi, the SAD-BJP alliance candidate came third. Mr Sidhu secured 29,879 votes while Mr Jassi could manage to secure only 29,642 votes. Mr Bangi got only 18,094 votes.

Congress candidate Surinder Singla with his supporters after defeating sitting MLA and Punjab Law Minister C. L. Garg in the Bathinda assembly constituency on Sunday.
Congress candidate Surinder Singla with his supporters after defeating sitting MLA and Punjab Law Minister C. L. Garg in the Bathinda assembly constituency on Sunday. — PTI photo

From the Bathinda Assembly segment, Mr Surinder Singla, the former AICC chief spokesman and Congress candidate, defeated the Punjab Law and Justice Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, by a margin of 13,415 votes. Mr Singla polled 46,444 votes while Mr Garg managed to get 33,029 votes. The rebel Congress candidate, Mr Kulwant Rai Aggarwal, who polled only 14,787 votes, could not save his security deposits.

From the Nathana Assembly segment, the SAD-BJP alliance candidate Mr Gura Singh, who made his election debut, defeated the Congress candidate, Mr Jasmel Singh, with a margin of 3,502 votes. Mr Gura Singh got 46,042 votes while Mr Jasmail Singh, who represented this seat in 1985 as SAD candidate, could get only 42,540 votes.

The CPI candidate, Mr Gurjant Singh Kutiwal, sprang a surprise when he emerged as winner from the Pakka-Kalan Assembly segment, a traditional stronghold of the Akalis, by defeating the SAD-BJP candidate and sitting MLA, Mr Makhan Singh with a margin of 1,777 votes. Mr Kutiwal was polled 34,254 votes and Mr Makhan Singh polled 32,477 votes. Mr Darshan Singh of the SAD (Mann) could get only 12,488 votes.


BJP blames rebels for debacle
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 24
Stung by its poll debacle, the Punjab unit of the BJP today chose to train its guns on party rebels by alleging that the latter had harmed the party’s poll prospects by playing the spoilsport in most constituencies.

The party admitted that corruption figured as a major poll issue but declined to admit that there was a wave in favour of the Congress.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone, the Punjab BJP chief, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, admitted that the party had suffered a humiliating defeat but said this had happened due to the “dirty” role played by rebels. He said strict disciplinary action would be taken against those who had harmed the party directly or indirectly.

“We will not spare such elements. At the same time, we will do introspection to find out the reasons behind our defeat during our executive committee meeting which will be called shortly,” Mr Rinwa said.

When asked whether he would tender his resignation on moral grounds in view of the party’s defeat, Mr Rinwa said he thought this was not proper. He said there was no pro-Congress wave in the state. Corruption remained a dominant issue for voters and this was obvious from their response, he added.

Mr Rinwa, however, ridiculed the Congress claim about corruption-free government in the state. He said such claims were hollow. “People will get fed up of them and their ways of governance within two-three months,” he said.

“Actually, the SAD-BJP combine failed to communicate its programmes, particularly about development to the grassroots level,” he added. Asked whether the SAD had failed to support the BJP in urban areas, Mr Rinwa said it was not so and the party had got full cooperation on all fronts. He asserted that the combine would play the role of a strong Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha.


Rebel Cong man wrests Mansa seat
Tribune News Service

Mansa, February 24
The Congress failed to make inroads into this Akali bastion but rebel Congress leader Sher Singh Gagowal created history by wresting the Mansa seat from sitting SAD MLA Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh by a slim margin of 44 votes following a recount.

Though no untoward incident was reported from the district, counting started after 1 p.m. in Sardulgarh constituency after the election observer, Mr P.K. Babu, a senior IRS officer, reportedly reached the counting station in an inebriated condition and had to be taken back for medical help. Officials on duty told TNS that the officer was in such a condition that he had to be lifted from one vehicle and moved to another. The matter has been brought to the notice of the Election Commission of India. Subsequently, the district administration reported the matter to the Chief Electoral Officer and the observer for Joga was requested to oversee the counting. He reached Sardulgarh and the counting began after 1 p.m. amid tight security.

In Sardulagarh, SAD general secretary and MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder avenged his defeat in the previous elections by beating his rival, Ajit Inder Singh Mofar of the Congress by 1,094 votes. Mr Bhunder polled 49,281 votes as compared to 48,186 of Mr Mofar.

In Mansa, there were tense moments after the SAD nominee, Mr Aulakh, led by just seven votes. One of the faulty EVMs which had been sealed after polling 13 votes was to decide the fate of the candidates. Repoll was ordered and the result swung in favour of Mr Gagowal who defeated the SAD nominee by 44 votes. Mr Gagowal polled 27,826 votes as compared to 27,782 votes of Mr Aulakh. The Cong-CPI candidate, Mr Boota Singh, was placed third. It may be mentioned here that Mr Gagowal was sacked as Mansa DCC president after he decided to contest as an Independent. In Joga, Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai of the SAD defeated his nearest rival, Mr Sukhraj Singh Nat of the Congress, by 8,000 votes. A close confidant of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Nakai, the chairman of Milkfed, contested the elections for the first time. He polled 41,069 votes while Mr Nat secured 33,063 votes. Four-time legislator and sitting MLA B.S. Khiala of the Panthic Morcha was placed third.

Mr Harbant Singh Datewas of the SAD wrested the Budhlada seat from sitting MLA Hardev Arshi of the CPI by a margin of more than 14,800 votes. Mr Datewas polled 44,149 votes as compared to 29,322 votes of Mr Arshi.


Cong takes 4 out of 5 in Ropar
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 24
The Congress took four out of five Assembly constituencies in this district. The SAD-BJP alliance, which had won all seats in Ropar in the last poll, could retain just the Chamkaur Sahib Assembly constituency, from where the SAD candidate, Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu got elected second time in succession.

The major setback for the SAD-BJP candidates in this district came from the urban areas. The Congress candidates got maximum votes from the urban areas in the district while the rural votes got divided equally among the Congress and the SAD-BJP.

The results of the five constituencies:

From the Nangal Assembly constituency a new candidate Mr KPS Rana of the Congress defeated the senior leader of BJP, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister by a margin of 13963 votes. The votes polled by candidates in this constituency are: Mr K.P.S. Rana of the Congress (37626), Mr Madan Mohan Mittal of the BJP (23663), Mohinder Pal Gautam of the CPM (8760), Mr Sardool Singh of the SAD (Mann) 3378, Mr Jaggi of the NCP (532) and Swittar Chand of the Rashtriya Raksha Dal, 858.

From the Anandpur Sahib Assembly constituency, Mr Ramesh Dutt of the Congress defeated the SAD candidate, Mr Tara Singh Ladal, the State Minister for Education by a margin of 12669 votes. The votes polled by various candidates in this constituency: Mr Ramesh Dutt of the Congress (41932), Mr Tara Singh Ladal of the SAD (29263), Mr V.P. Saini of the Forward Bloc (2324), Nirmal Singh of the BSP (6927), Jagjit Singh Jagga of the NCP (1464), and Malkiat Singh, Independent (929), Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu, Printing and Stationery Minister and the SAD candidate from Chamkaur Sahib defeated her nearest rival, Mr Bagh Singh of the Congress by a margin of 9111 votes. The votes polled by various candidates in this constituency: Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu of the SAD (33503), Mr Bagh Singh of the Congress, (24392), Mr Jaspal Singh of the BSP (5627), Mr Shamsher Singh Rai, Independent (5259), Harpal Singh, Independent (700), Major Singh, Independent (330), Shamsher Singh, Independent (663), Shavinder Singh, Independent (418), and Rupinder Kaur, Independent (2225).

In the Morinda Assembly constituency, the Congress candidate, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang won by a huge margin of 22717 votes defeating his nearest rival Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali of the SAD. Mr Ravi Inder Singh, a senior leader of the Panthic Morcha who was earlier being considered a strong candidate finished third. The votes polled in this constituency are: Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang of the Congress (47631), Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali of the SAD (24914), Ravi Inder Singh of the Panthic Morcha (23765), Mr Kuldeep Rai, Independent (892) and Ranjit Singh, Independent (792).

From the Kharar Assembly constituency Mr Bir Davinder of the Congress defeated a Congress rebel, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, by a margin of just 1520 votes. The votes polled are: Mr Bir Davinder of the Congress (24846), Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, Independent (23326), Kiran Vir Kang of the SAD (22315), Rajbir Singh Padiala of the Panthic Morcha (20463), Harnek Singh Gharuan, Independent (7908), Dharam Singh, Independent (3139), Rajbir, Independent (1271) Bhupinder Singh, Independent (726), Gurmail Kaur, Independent (909), Jagmal Singh, Independent (352), Rashpal Singh, Independent (798) and Amarjit, Independent 223.


SAD proves might in Sangrur
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 24
Out of 10 Assembly constituencies of Sangrur district, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) by winning five seats today proved its dominance in the district while the Congress had to satisfy itself with only three seats and remaining two seats were won by the Independent candidates, including Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla.

Among 10 sitting MLAs of the district, only six MLAs could retain their seats while the remaining four namely Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Mr Dhanwant Singh Dhuri, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba and Mr Nusrat Ali Khan lost their respective seats.

There were nine women candidates in the district, of which only two Congress candidates Mrs Razia Sultana (Malerkotla) and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Lehra) could win.

Out of total eight rebel candidates of two main parties, the Congress and the SAD, only Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla from Sherpur could win. Mr Kanjhla fielded himself as an Independent when he was denied the party ticket by the SAD.

However, no candidate of the Panthic Morcha and the BSP could win while majority of the BSP and the Panthic Morcha candidates in the district lost their security. Besides, Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha of the SAD from Sangrur and Mr Achhra Singh of the CPI from Dhuri also lost their security deposits.


Result withheld for two hours
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 24
The Congress-CPI candidate from here, a reserved Assembly seat, Mr Joginder Singh Mann today, wrested the seat from BJP/SAD candidate and Punjab Tourism Minister Ch Swarna Ram, by defeating him by a margin of 1,186 votes even as the official result was withheld for two hours due to a snag in two electronic voting machines, keeping mediapersons, candidates and their supporters on tenterhooks.

Two EVMs, having 935 votes of booth Nos 138 and 51 did not function. Local SDM-cum-Returning Officer Amarjit Paul requisitioned the services of a technical expert but the latter also failed to set the machines in order.

Mr Paul then informed the Electoral Commission at New Delhi as well as the Chief Electoral Officer at Chandigarh. The Election Commission permitted the RO to declare the result, deeming 936 votes as cancelled, since the victory margin of Mr Mann was higher than the uncounted votes of the two EVMs whose memory had lapsed. This led to an impromptu dance by the supporters of Mr Mann who was first garlanded by his wife Mr Baljinder Kaur Mann. Mr Mann had earlier represented Phagwara twice and had remained a minister.

While Mr Mann got 31,601 votes, his rival Mr Swarna Ram got 30,415 votes. BSP/Panthic Morcha candidate Harbhajan Singh Balalon came third with 20,221 votes. Seven other candidates forfeited their deposits.


BSP’s flop show in Hoshiarpur
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 24
Out of eight segments in the district, the Congress has won only Mukerian, Dasuya and Shamchaurasi seats whereas the SAD-BJP alliance has bagged Hoshiarpur, Mahilpur, Garhshan-ker Tanda and Garhdiwala seats in this Assembly elections.

The Congress had won Dasuya seat in 1997 whereas SAD-BJP alliance candidates succeeded in six segments and the BSP in one only. The BSP could not even open its account in the district this time. Dr Kewal Krishan, former Finance Minister, Punjab (Congress), defeated Mr Arunesh Shaker, BJP MLA, by 9,065 votes. Mr Romesh Dogra, Congress MLA, retained Dasuya seat and defeated Mahant Ram Parkash Dass, BJP, by 12,080 votes. Mr Balbir Singh Miani, SAD candidate and the Minister for Higher Education, defeated his nearest rival Mr Sangat Singh, Congress, by a margin of 2,527 votes. Mr Des Raj Dhugga, SAD, a new entrant defeated Mr Pawan Kumar Adia, Congress, by 7,904 votes, Mr Ram Lubhaya, Congress, defeated Ms Mohinder Kaur Josh, Independent and former State Minister for Health and Family Welfare, by 1,479 votes. Mr Tikshan Sud of the BJP and state Minister for Excise and Taxation, Punjab, defeated Mr, Naresh Thakur, Congress by a narrow margin of 309 votes.

Mr Tikshan Sud retained his seat. Mr Sohan Singh Thandal of the SAD and Minister for Civil Supply, also retained his seat by defeating Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, BSP, by a margin of 11,280 votes, Mr Abinash Rai Khanna, BJP, defeated Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra, BSP MLA, by 6,165 votes.


Photos of winners


Chaudhary retains seat for fifth time
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 24
Mr Jagjit Singh Chaudhary, vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, has created a record of sorts by bagging the Kartarpur Assembly seat for the fifth time by defeating his nearest rival Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal of the Shiromani Akali Dal by a margin of 4119 votes.

Interestingly, Mr Chaudhary is perhaps the only leader of Punjab who has retained a seat for the fifth time. Earlier, he had emerged a winner in 1980, 1985, 1992 and during the 1997 anti-Congress wave also.

Addressing his supporters after declaration of results this evening, an elated Mr Chaudhary announced that his party would initiate probe into corruption cases in Punjab.


Langah refuses to sign result card
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 24
As many as four out of nine candidates of the Congress have been elected today. The others two legislators elected from the district to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha including Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur independent, supported by the SHSAD and Capt Balbir Singh of the SAD. Congressmen elected for the first time included Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Mrs Aruna Chaudhary, Mr Rmal Chand and Mr Ashok Kumar Sharma from the Assembly segments of Fetehgarh Churian, Dinanagar, Norot Mehra and Pathankot, respectively.

Mr Sucha Singh Langah, PWD (B and R) minister, who lost to Mr Chhotepur by a narrow margin of 83 votes did not sign the final card. As a result the returning officer after obtaining the signature of an election observer declared Mr Chhotepur elected from the Dhariwal Assembly constituency.


Ravana’ vanquished
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 24
At last ‘Rama’ has won the battle in Pathankot. In this Assembly constituency, the two veteran artists of different dramatic clubs, Ashok Sharma (INS) and Mohan Lal, Minister for High Education Punjab (BJP), hotly contested the election.

Mr Ashok Sharma has won the election with a huge margin of 17,359 votes.

Pathankot is a prominent city with historic background dating back to the Mahabharata and the Udhambras. Its original names were “Pratisthan” and then ‘Paithan’ meaning “firmly established place”.

Mr Sharma is senior advocate by profession and became the President of the local Bar Association at a young age.

There were six candidates in the fray. The election result is as follows:-

Total electorate: 122,810, votes polled 79,120; Ashok Sharma (Congress) 45,047, Mohan Lal (BJP) 27,668; Parveen Minhas (Shiv Sena) 3,885, Keshav Dass (BSP) 1,080, Inderjit Gupta (Rashtriya Raksha Dal) 962, Mohinder Mehta (NCP) 478.


Father-son duo fail to hold on

Jalandhar, February 24
A father-son duo who entered the fray as nominees of two different parties from reserve constituencies of Phagwara and Banga to retain their seats had to face defeat at the hands of the Congress.

The father, Swarna Ram, Minister of Tourism and Culture, contested on the BJP’s ticket and lost by a margin of 1,186 votes. His son, Mohan Lal, contested the Banga seat as a BSP candidate lost by a margin of 3,655 votes.

Swarna Ram had won the 1997 elections on the BJP ticket while Mohan Lal was an SAD candidate.

This time the son was denied the SAD ticket so he switched sides. UNI


Abohar electorate again dumps MLA
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 24
The electorate of this politically sensitive constituency maintained the tradition of neither electing an MLA for the second term nor sending an Independent to the state Assembly.

Dr Ram Kumar Goel, who had been elected MLA on BJP ticket by a margin of over 15,000 votes in 1997, lost the election this time.


Cong wrests Balluana reserve seat
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 24
The Congress wrested the Balluana reserve seat from the ruling SAD-BJP alliance. The sitting MLA, Mr Gurtej Singh Ghuriana, was defeated by the Congress candidate, Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, by a margin of 4,320 votes. Of the total 84,803 votes polled in the constituency, Mr Bhatti polled 41,683 and Mr Ghuriana got 37,363 Ms Usha Rani of the BSP got only 5,757 votes.

A vote counting centre at Government College, Ludhiana, on Sunday.
A vote counting centre at Government College, Ludhiana, on Sunday.
— Paramjit Singh Happy
Ludhiana (West) winner Harnam Das Johar celebrates with supporters.
Ludhiana (West) winner Harnam Das Johar celebrates with supporters.
 — PSH
Ludhiana (North) winner Rakesh Pandey.
Ludhiana (North) winner Rakesh Pandey.
Ludhiana (East) winner Surinder Dawar (Cong)
Ludhiana (East) winner Surinder Dawar (Cong)

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