Friday, September 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Chautala’s sops to employees
Devi Lal’s birth anniversary function
Yoginder Gupta and Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Karnal, September 25
After “Devi Rupak” of last year, it is “Devi Rakshak” this year. This social-security-oriented scheme was launched by Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, at a public meeting organised here to celebrate the 90th birth anniversary of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, today.

The scheme, being introduced in collaboration with the National Insurance Company, aims at giving Rs 1 lakh to dependents if the bread-winner of a family dies. However, Income Tax payees and employees of government and semi-government organisations would not be covered under the scheme.

Another concession announced by Mr Chautala was the regularisation of the services of all Class III and Class IV employees who had been serving for the past three years on an ad hoc basis. According to official sources, the case for the regularisation of the services of Class II employees working on an ad hoc basis has been referred to the Advocate-General for opinion. The decision would benefit 15,000 employees.

All artistes of the state who are above 60 will be paid a monthly pension of Rs 500. So far 90 beneficiaries have been identified under the scheme. The Chief Minister also announced a community lavatory scheme for rural women. He said the state government would purchase bajra at the minimum support price of Rs 505 per quintal even if the central procurement agencies did not purchase the grain. Procurement starts from tomorrow.

Terming Mr Devi lal as “Gau-Palak Kisan”, the Chief Minister said the government would fund the Gaushalas, which house 200 or more cows.

Urging managements of gaushalas to utilise this assistance for setting up bio-gas plants and herbal gardens, he said two truckloads of wheat each would be given to the Gaushalas which had less than 200 cows.

Paying tributes to his father, Mr Chautala said while many people fought for the independence of the country only, Mr Devi Lal stood for the villagers. The “pandal” of the meeting was not sufficient to accommodate the crowd. Mr Chautala challenged President of the Haryana Vikas Party, Bansi Lal to demolish the statues of Mr Devi Lal at many places across the state on coming to power. “Naan Nau Man Tel Hoga, Naan Radha Nache Gee,” he mocked the HVP leader, who he said had been invited to attend a function this evening at which a portrait of Mr Devi Lal would be unveiled in Parliament.

He claimed that his government had made Haryana free from terrorism, communalism and casteism. He enumerated several development works completed by his government. He said, the state had never availed of the overdraft facility from the Reserve Bank of India.

The crowd seemed tired after hearing leaders speak but applauded Mr Chautala.

Earlier in a homage to Mr Devi Lal, Defence Minister George Fernandes, described him a large-hearted persons, who would forget his fights with his enemies.

Mr Fernandes criticised the Congress for demoralising security forces by appreciating the “valour of Pakistan forces” in the Kargil conflict, which was much publicised by Pakistani media. He said the party was unnecessarily and unjustifiably raking up the coffin issue. Without naming Mrs Sonia Gandhi, he said the Leader of Opposition had not accepted his challenge to quit politics if she was able to provide even an iota of evidence of any irregularity in the coffin deal.

Leader of the TDP Parliamentary Party K. Yaren Naidu, who spoke in Hindi (a sign of growing ties between South and North India, as Mr Chautala put it before inviting Mr Naidu to speak), said Mr Devi Lal was very popular in southern states also because of his pro-farmer policies.

National Conference President, Omar Abdullah said the hope generated by peace offer of Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Pakistan from Srinagar had been short-lived. Now terrorists were targetting those who spoke for India in the valley.

He said both Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir had been facing problems of poverty and unemployment.

Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP participation of which in the celebrations was much reduced compared to last year, referred to the gold pledged by the Chandra Shekhar Government to get foreign exchange. Perhaps realising that his host’s party too was in that government, Mr Malhotra blamed the Congress for the pledging of gold.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and local MP, I.D. Swami, mostly confined to welcoming the visiting leaders.

Among others who paid tributes to Mr Devi Lal where Union Fertiliser and Chemicals Minister, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa; Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of former Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal; Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Tarlochan Singh; and a former Haryana Congress president and Chairman of the Devi Lal Memorial Trust, Sultan Singh.

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