Tuesday, April 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Amarinder-Badal duel to fore
CM promises cheaper power
Tribune News Service

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, PPCC President H.S. Hanspal and other senior Congress leader share some points at the political rallies at Talwandi Sabo on the occasion of Baisakhi
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, PPCC president H. S. Hanspal (2nd from left) and other senior Congress leaders at the political rally at Talwandi Sabo on Monday.

Talwandi Sabo, April 14
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while launching the Congress campaign on the occasion of the Baisakhi Mela here today for the Panchayat elections to be held in June, said the government was committed to giving the residents of Punjab particularly the rural people “Sasti Bijli-Poori Bijli” (uninterrupted power on cheaper rates) by bringing a structural change in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The leaders of the party, who participated in party’s conference spoke about government’s plans for farmers and people of rural areas. Except for one or two speakers, no other leader talked of the problems faced by traders and urbanites.

While reiterating Congress government’s commitment to bring about reforms in the power sector, Capt Amarinder Singh, who first paid his obeisance at Takht Damdama Sahib Gurdwara on the occasion of Baisakhi, which marks the beginning of harvesting of wheat crop, said that without structural changes in the PSEB, regular power could not be supplied to the people and at a cheaper rates. He added that a section of the society had been opposing this process without any logic. He said that he had written to all sarpanches of panchayats that there was need to bring changes in the PSEB.

Criticising former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal and his associates for corruption, the Chief Minister said, “I take pledge on this sacred land of Takht Damdama Sahib that Mr Badal and his associates will be held accountable for every single rupee misappropriated during the SAD-BJP combine government in Punjab”. He added that he had no personal enmity with Mr Badal but he felt agitated over the fact that Mr Badal and his associates had ‘looted’ all and sundry during their rule in Punjab and had created huge assets.

“Can Mr Badal tell the people that how he managed to acquire properties worth Rs 3500 crore by having little land holding of 12 acres and how he managed to get land for constructing a seven-star hotel in one of the best cities in Haryana”, asked the Chief Minister. The campaign against corruption would continue. If any IAS officer was found involved in it, he or she would be called to explain the things to the investigating agencies.

Capt Amarinder Singh promising the people that Punjab would be put on the path of development again said that the board, constituted for the development of this historic town of five Takht of Sikhs, would be reactivated and all problems of this holy city redressed.

He said that in the next expansion of Cabinet, women would be given due representation. Apart from it, senior MLAs would also be inducted.


SAD gives call for struggle
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 14
While SAD (B) President and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal gave a clarion call to the partymen for preparing themselves for launching a sustained and prolonged struggle to defeat the anti-Panthic designs of the Congress government, party general secretary Balwinder Singh Bhunder cautioned the people against the tough days ahead by alleging that the Congress had been infested with Khalistani elements.

Addressing the party conference organised on the occasion of Baisakhi Mela in the Takht Damdama Sahib complex, Mr Badal pointed out that the Congress had been making repeated moves to “capture” the Sikh religious institutions and it had become the moral duty of Sikhs to safeguard their esteem by defeating its “nefarious designs”.

During the previous SGPC executive elections, the Congress government tried to occupy the Sikhs religious places with the help of the police and civic administration. For a month, the Congress government committed atrocities on members of the SGPC and their kin during its executive elections, he alleged.

The Akali leader pointed out that successive Congress governments of the state and the Centre had always bartered away the economic interests of Punjab to remain in power. He added that during the Congress government in Punjab and at the Centre, the digging of the SYL canal was started. Now the state Congress government would again try to complete the SYL canal and embark on its unfinished agenda.

Regarding the government’s anti- corruption campaign, Mr Badal said, “Let Capt Amarinder Singh name 10 Akalis who he thinks are corrupt. I will also name 10 Congressmen who are corrupt. The cases of these persons should be handed over to a sitting judge of the high court for a probe so that people can know that who has been indulging in bunglings and eating up money through illegal means.”

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, pointed out that the Congress government had imposed new taxes to the tune of Rs 6400 crores on the people in the past one year and, thus, proved itself as an “anti-people” government.

The partymen passed three resolutions pertaining to the withdrawal of hike in the tuition of government colleges by the Punjab Government, intervention of the state government to redress the problems of potato growers and an end to the move to dismantle the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).


Mann: Cong against Badal-Tohra unity
Tribune Reporters

Talwandi Sabo, April 14
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today said that unity between Akali Dals led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra would never materialise as the Congress would not like such a move.

The SAD (A) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said the Congress had ‘invested’ a lot for securing the Delhi Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for the Tohra-led Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD). The Congress had also made efforts for getting the presidentship of the SGPC for the SHSAD, but had failed.

A resolution was passed to this effect here today on the occasion of Baisakhi. The party said that it would welcome the Akali workers who wanted to leave the groups led by Mr Badal and Mr Tohra.

In another resolution, the party stated that a commission should be set up to examine the demand of Sikhs that a new national flag should be formed, with the dark blue colour representing the Sikhs being added to the flag.

Ramoowalia projects third front

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Lok Bhalai Party President, with Harbhajan Mann at the political rallies at Talwandi Sabo on the occasion of Baisakhi
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia (blue turban), Lok Bhalai Party President, with singer Harbhajan Mann (right) at Talwandi Sabo on Monday.

Meanwhile, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, here today said that the people of the state were fed up with the successive “non-performing” governments and were in a state of disillusionment due to ‘cheating’ by political parties.

Addressing a rally of his party, he said even as they had not won any Assembly seat, people had voted for them in the elections of the local bodies wherein they had won 29 seats. He said the Lok Bhalai Party would give a third front to the people and claimed it was sincere to the public and its workers.

He alleged that all other political parties had been cheating the people and the social, economic and other agenda that figured on the election manifestoes of these parties were thrown into the dustbins after they assumed power.

He said that he had played a key role in highlighting the plight of the youth who had been duped and cheated by the travel agents. A special cell to advocate the cause of the girls duped by a section of NRIs in the name of marriage had been started.

Noted Punjabi singer Harbhajan Mann also addressed the rally of the party.

2 Independents with Panthic Morcha

Mr Ravinder Singh, former Punjab Assembly Speaker, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, MLA, Talwandi Sabo, at the Baisakhi rally on Monday. — Photos Kulbir Beera

Two Independent MLAs — Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu — today virtually endorsed the policies of the Panthic Morcha as they attended a conference of the morcha at Baisakhi mela here today.

Mr Chhotepur even said they were with the Panthic Morcha, although Mr Sidhu who had organised the conference said the invitations had been sent to all like-mined persons to attend the conference and if any participant made an attack on Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the gathering would endorse it.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, a senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, while talking to select mediapersons said they wanted a platform to convey their message to the people of the area and the forum of Independent MLAs was the best option.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh said the morcha was in the favour of unity among different factions of Akali Dal but it should be based on principles. He said their first demand would be the removal of Mr Badal from the presidentship of the SAD.

Others who spoke on the occasion, included Mr Gurdeep Singh and Mr Jasbir Singh Rode.


Talwandi holds Badal responsible for Cong’s return
Tribune News Service

Sangh Dhesian (Jalandhar), April 14
While former SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi held SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal responsible for the return of the Congress to power, Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) chief Kuldip Singh Wadala urged Punjabis to impress upon Mr Badal to participate in the ongoing “unity” process initiated by his party.

Addressing a political conference, organised by SAD (D) on Baisakhi, which also saw the participation of the Samajwadi Party chief, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, and party leader Amar Singh, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi said the “wrong” policies of Mr Badal had paved the way for the return of the Congress to power in the state. He further said apart from Mr Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, all other factions should participate in the process of unity, for which all Sikh leaders should present themselves before Akal Takht.

Mr Wadala said the formation of a third front was the need of the hour. He said Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav could play a vital role in this direction. Others who spoke on the occasion included Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Chairman of the Human Rights Organisation, Mr D.S. Gill, President, International Human Rights Organisation, and the Samajwadi Party chief, Mr Teja Singh Tewana.


Demand for Khalistan

Dr Pritpal Singh, convener of the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, addressing a religious congregation at Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Hasan Abdal, Pakistan, during a function held to celebrate Baisakhi. — Photo Ravinder Singh Robin

Hasan Abdal, (Pakistan), April 14
A UK-based leader of a separatist Sikh outfit today raised the demand for Khalistan at a gurdwara here on the occasion of Baisakhi today.

Manmohan Singh Khalsa of the Dal Khalsa said implementation of a separate Nanakshahi calendar for Sikhs indicated that the Sikh community was moving towards achievement of Khalistan. SGPC members from Amritsar and several other US and London-based personalities have converged here for the celebrations. PTI


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