M A I N   N E W S

Kanwaljit SAD choice for Patiala
Gujral’s son among 3 other LS nominees
Tribune News Service

DRI probe

Mr Parkash Singh Badal today hinted that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) was probing the “hawala” racket allegedly involving Raninder Singh, son of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Mr Badal said though there was no official communication to him, the action had followed on a complaint made by him to the Prime Minister.

Chandigarh, February 15
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced the candidates for four of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab.

Among them are two former ministers — Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Dr Rattan Singh — who will contest from Patiala and Tarn Taran, respectively. Of the other two, Mr Naresh Gujral is former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral’s son while Ms Paramjit Kaur is the daughter of former Union Minister of State for Education, the late Mr Dhanna Singh Gulshan. While Mr Gujral will contest from Jalandhar, Ms Paramjit Kaur will contest from Bathinda (Reserved).

The candidature of Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from Sangrur has already been announced.

Mr Badal is now free to negotiate the BSP and its time-tested political ally, the BJP.

Naresh Gujral
Naresh Gujral

Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala
Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala

Ms Paramjit Kaur
Ms Paramjit Kaur

When asked if he had taken Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra into confidence for the Patiala seat, Mr Badal remarked that ‘in the case of Capt Kanwaljit Singh the decision was borne out of mutual regard I and Mr Tohra have for each other. There are no factions and we are one Akali Dal.”

About the talking points during the Lok Sabha elections, the SAD President said the issues to be placed before the people were “national as well as those concerning the state”. At the national level, “experience” and “nationality” of the candidate for the post of Prime Minister were as important as his or her involvement in the country’s socio-economic development, dexterity in handling diplomatic relations and resolving domestic problems and issues.

“The manner in which Mr Vajpayee has led the NDA coalition for more than five years speaks volumes for the man’s political acumen. In the context of Punjab, the NDA Government has done much more in a short span of time than that by the Congress Government put together in New Delhi.”

Mr Badal, however, skirted the questions on what contributions the NDA had made or what steps the Akali-BJP alliance had taken in resolving Punjab’s inter-state disputes related to territory, transfer of Chandigarh, sharing of river waters or commissioning of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal etc. He blamed the Congress for precipitating all these issues. He, however, recalled the “achievements” of Mr Vajpayee’s Government, particularly his peace initiative with Pakistan.

About the state issues, he said “non-performance” of the Congress Government in the past two years would top the agenda.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who was also present at the press conference, said he would launch his poll campaign from Ghanaur on February 25 by organising “zabar virodh” rally there. The contest for the Patiala would be fight between a commoner and a royal family. “It is symbolic of economic repression and political suppression of hundreds of Akali-BJP workers in the past two years by the Congress,” the SAD leader said.

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