P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Advani lashes out at Amarinder govt
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, May 2
The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, lambasted the Capt Amarinder Singh Government by saying that it was resorting to undemocratic means, and arm twisting measures to fix political opponents and was even committing police atrocities.

Mr Advani, who flew in after canvassing in Himachal Pradesh, was addressing a rally at Vir Hakiquat Rai Park in support of the SAD -BJP candidate from Patiala parliamentary constituency, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Mr Advani’s adverse remarks against Capt Amarinder Singh were an oblique reference to the latter’s handling of the Badal affair by various agencies, including the Vigilance Department. Mr Advani added that police excesses were going on in Punjab.

The rally threatened to turn unsavory when activists of the BJP Yuva Morcha started raising slogans in an unruly manner and as they were forcibly making their way to the dais, several speakers exhorted them to go back. However, when they did not heed to the call of SAD leaders, it was ultimately Mr L.K. Advani who took to the mike and urged then to remain calm. He even went to the extent of saying that he would not go ahead with his speech if things did not cool off.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who reached the venue at least an hour behind schedule, also spoke about the exit polls which had predicted a hung parliament. Mr Advani rubbished the claims of such polls by saying earlier too exit polls had predicted that the Congress would sweep assembly elections in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, he added that all three states went to the BJP and Ms Uma Bharti, Mr Raman Singh and Ms Vasundhara Raje Scindia ended up becoming Chief Ministers.

He said the ‘BSP’ — bijli, pani, sadak- factor would go a long way in ensuring the NDA’s victory in the forthcoming polls. He qualified his statement by saying that all these three BSP issues contributed to development which was a key poll plank of the NDA Government.

Mr Advani, in his 20-minute extempore, said that the people of the country had been witness to 13 parliamentary elections and had become politically mature. He said this was evident from the fact that while on the one hand the country had seen six Prime Ministers since 1988 to 1998, the BJP had given them a stable government in the form of just one PM- Mr A.B. Vajpayee for six years since 1998 till 2004.

Mr Advani exhorted the people to vote for Capt Kanwaljit Singh saying that he was a “two in one” candidate. He elaborated by saying that a vote for the SAD candidate would be a vote for Mr A.B. Vajpayee.

The Deputy Prime Minister also spoke about the inter-linking of rivers in the country and the construction of roads. He said the river project would not only generate employment but would also wipe out drought like conditions in the country. On the other hand he said that the ‘golden quadrilateral’ project -the PM’s pet project-brought in job opportunities for at least 85 lakh people across the length and breadth of the country.

Speaking about development, Mr Advani claimed that 'pucca' roads would reach each villages by 2020.

Speaking about the Akalis, Mr Advani said that they had shown political maturity during 1975 when the then PM had imposed Emergency. He added that the Akalis were in the forefront of the struggle against the Emergency and it was due to them that Indira Gandhi’s party was routed in 1977.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, while speaking on the occasion, took strong exception to the remarks of Mrs Preneet Kaur that Mr I.K Gujral and Mr L.K. Advani were foreigners.


BJP to expose ‘misdeeds’ of Congress govt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 2
The BJP has decided to publish a ‘white paper’ to expose the alleged ‘misdeeds’ of the Congress government after the parliamentary elections .

This was disclosed by Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, a senior party leader and former Punjab Minister, here yesterday. He said unlike the Congress government which had resorted to political vendetta , the SAD-BJP would take stringent action against the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his Cabinet colleagues as per rule of the land, after forming its government in the state. He said the BJP was preparing a list of bureaucrats who were working like Congress leaders after coming to power such officers would be taken to task.

Mr Tandon said his party would impress upon the Central Government to re-investigate the case of Mr Raninder Singh, son of Capt Amarinder Singh, by DRI which was the only agency to deal with cases pertaining to foreign investments .

To a question, Mr Tandon said the party would take strict action against the rebel BJP workers who were working against the party interests in the Lok Sabha elections. He said the party high command was seized of the matter as sporadic complaints were pouring in from certain districts. He warned that show-cause notices would be issued to such leaders after the Lok Sabha elections. To a question, Mr Tandon said though Mr Aviash Khanna could continue to be state BJP chief even after his election as MP from Hoshiarpur, yet any decision in such a situation could be taken after the elections only.

Mr Tandon claimed that the SAD-BJP combine would sweep the forthcoming parliament elections due to feel-good and anti-incumbency factors.


Poonam disappoints Sidhu supporters
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 2
Film star Poonam Dhillon who came especially to address election rally in favour of BJP candidate Navjot Singh Sidhu here last night climbed the stage and left after waiving to the crowd to catch train to Delhi.

The BJP workers were disappointed as the star attraction failed to deliver a speech in support of Mr Sidhu. Ms Dhillon who arrived two hours late from Pathankot landed at the rally site at 9.20 p.m. left within two minutes. She had refused to climb the stage as she was keen not to miss the train but after persuasion from Mr Sidhu that she came to stage to waive the crowd.


SAD-BJP to sharpen attack on Amarinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 2
After two brain-storming sessions held on Sunday to review the poll strategy, the SAD-BJP combine has decided to the make its election campaign more aggressive by sharpening the attack on the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his government besides targeting the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi.

Informed SAD sources told The Tribune today that this morning senior Akali leaders led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the BJP leaders led by Mr Avinash Jaiswal met at breakfast in Jalandhar to review the ongoing election campaign. They had met him last night also. Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema and other spin doctors of the SAD and the BJP also participated in the meeting.

It was felt at the meetings that there was a need to pull up the socks as the rival Congress has become hyper-active after the exit poll predictions that the Congress would perform well in southern states and some other parts of the country where polling is over.

The dominating view at the meeting was that there was no aggression in the speeches made by senior leaders at election meetings of the SAD-BJP. On the other hand the Congress leaders have been using very tough and harsh language against the SAD-BJP leaders. Certain leaders suggested that the Congress should be paid back in the same coin by making use of strong language against the top leaders of the Congress and focussing attack on certain top Congress functionaries.

Sources said during the meeting Mr Parkash Singh Badal, talked to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on phone to request him to spare at least one day for Punjab before the end of the election campaign on May 8. Polling in Punjab is to be held on May 10. Mr Vajpayee is required, SAD leaders said, to neutralise the Sonia Gandhi effect in Punjab. Ms Gandhi will visit the state thrice next week. Tomorrow, she will address a rally at Pathankot and next day in Phagwara and on May 7 in Patiala. So there will be a need to neutralise the impact of her visits to the state.

Sources said the PMO’s election tour managers have not confirmed any date for the Prime Minister’s visit to Punjab. Mr Badal has asked the BJP leaders to gear up its machinery in the urban areas where voters needed to be mobilised in a big way. The Vajpayee factor exists in the urban areas but without mobilising voters, this factor would be paying no electoral dividends. In all election meetings in urban areas, the SAD-BJP combine would be focussing on Mr Vajpayee.

The other issue that was discussed at the meeting prominently was the involvement of youth in the election campaign. All opinion poll have come out with the finding that Mr Vajpayee was very popular among youth. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal has been asked to mobilise youth wing leaders in all districts. Likewise, the BJP has asked its yuva morcha leaders to be in the top gear in urban areas.

Meanwhile, the BJP has fielded Mr Arun Jaitley, Union Law Minister, as one of the main campaigners in the state. Mr Jaitley, who speaks good Punjabi and has wide acceptability in urban areas, will be spending May 5, 6 and 7 in various districts of Punjab especially in the Amritsar-Gurdaspur and Jalandhar belt. Mr Shatrugan Sinha, the Bihari Babu, will addressing election rallies in Punjab on May 5. The Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi will also address election meetings the same day. Mrs Vasundra Raje Scindia, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, and Ms Sushma Swraj will address election rallies on May 4 and 5. Several other senior leaders of the BJP would be swarming Punjab in the next few days.


3 Congress leaders join BJP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 2
Mr Amarjit Singh Walia, former Chairman of Ropar Improvement Trust and organising secretary of the PPCC and Mr Satwant Singh Gill, former general secretary, DCC, Ropar, and member, PPCC, along with their supporters, resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP here today. They were welcomed by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP state chief, Mr Bhagwant Kishore Gupta, president district unit of the BJP, Hoshiarpur.

Later talking to mediapersons, Mr Amarjit Singh Walia and Mr Satwant Singh criticised the AICC and PPCC leadership for ignoring party workers. They said Ms Sonia Gandhi was a foreigner and did not know the culture. Mr H. S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, was also an outsider and did not know the importance of Congress workers who were the backbone of the party.

There was no democracy in the Congress. Senior Congress men had been sidetracked as the party had lost its base. When asked why they had joined the BJP, they said that it was the only political party in the country in which respect was being given to its workers.

Mr Dilabar Khan, President, Minority Cell of the DCC, Ropar, also resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP.


Badal accuses CM of contempt of court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal today described as “outrageous and incredible” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s statement that charges would be framed against the SAD chief on May 4.

Describing the statement as “contempt of court”, Mr Badal asked the Chief Minister to explain as to what locus standi did he have in the matter since the case was subjudice. “It is for the court to decide if and when the charges are to be framed. Who gave Capt Amarinder Singh the authority to speak on behalf of the court? In my long political career, I have never seen a Chief Minister so dismissive of the sanctity of judiciary as this man is,” said Mr Badal in a statement here.

The Akali leader further said that the Chief Minister had been adopting a cavalier attitude towards all respected constitutional institutions in the country. Mr Badal accused the Chief Minister of trying to browbeat the Election Commission of India in order to get away with rampant violations of the model code of conduct by him, his ministers and officials in the ongoing campaign in the state.

Mr Badal also wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner pointing out the “devious methods employed by Capt Amarinder Singh to dodge compliance of the directions of the EC. “Instead of reprimanding and shifting officers and officials as desired by the Election Commission, the Chief Minister was either rewarding them with lucrative assignments to send wrong signals to the new incumbents or encouraging them to continue to help the ruling party while proceeding on short leave. He has gone public with his assurance that all those found guilty by the EC of helping the cause of the ruling party would be suitably ‘adjusted’ once the elections are over,” Mr Badal said in his communication.

The SAD chief, however, expressed satisfaction over the transfers ordered by the commission following complaints from the SAD but he said much more was needed to be done. He said that the attitude of the state bureaucracy remained a cause for serious concern as was borne out by the manner in which the local Deputy Commissioner had applied different yardsticks for the processions of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and Ms Karan Brar when the two had gone to file their nomination papers.

Mr Badal also expressed dissatisfaction over the decision of the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, in which he had sought a report from the Divisional Commissioner on the reports of widespread violations of the election code by the Chief Minister and his aides and advisers during their visit to Jalandhar. Mr Badal said that it would have been appropriate if the whole matter had been referred to independent observers from outside the state.


SAD with BJP in Chandigarh

The Shiromani Akali Dal clarified that it stood by the BJP in Chandigarh and that some statements contrary to this appearing in a section of the Press did not reflect the stand of the party high command.

Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, secretary of the SAD, said that there was no deviation in Chandigarh from the alliance between the SAD and the BJP. Dr Cheema referred to statements attributed to some Chandigarh Akali leaders to the effect that the party did not support the BJP candidate in the city and added that these were inaccurate and contrary to the known stand of the party.

Dr Cheema said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had categorically stated on several occasions that the SAD was committed to defeating the Congress and ensuring the smooth return of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister. This, he said, was necessary to save the country from the dangers posed by the Congress and its president of foreign origin, Ms Sonia Gandhi.


BJP, SAD demoralised, says Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Ramdass (Amritsar), May 2
The Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, today claimed that the BJP-SAD combine in the state was demoralised as it had been rushing to the Election Commission with complaints.

Talking to mediapersons before addressing a rally at this border village, about 45 km from Amritsar, in favour of Mr R.L. Bhatia, Congress candidate, he said there were no differences in the party and it was united.

Answering queries about the clash yesterday between two groups of the District Congress Committee, the Chief Minister said the state party president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, who had received the reports, would look into the matter. He said due to over enthusiasm among party workers, such things did occur.

Coming down heavily on the NDA government for ruining the small-scale steel industry in the state, he said the government had “pocketed” election funds from large steel manufacturers to give benefit to them as the prices had shot up from Rs 14,000 per tonne to Rs 34,000 per tonne during the past few months.

He said the Central loan which was given to the state to fight militancy, continue to affect the economy of the state. He said the government would look into the legal and technical aspects of the loan and take a final decision about its repayment.

Later, he offered a golden “kalash” at Baba Buddha Gurdwara.


Cong will form govt at Centre: CM
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 2
The election campaign of Mr Samsher Singh Dullo, Congress candidate from Ropar (Reserve) Parliamentary constituency, got a boost as Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, addressed a largely attended election rally in his support at Bassi Pathana town of the district. The Congress rally was organised by Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, and Vaid Hari Krishan, President, DCC. A large number of people, particularly rural folk, came to attend the rally. They cheered time and again as the Chief Minister lashed out at the Akalis.

Addressing the rally Capt Amarinder Singh said there was a strong wave in favour of the Congress in the country as well as in the state and the frequent visits of Mr Advani, Mr Vajpayee and other senior leaders of the BJP to the state were an indication of the frustration in the rank and file of the BJP and the Akalis. He said as per the recent exit polls telecast by different channels, it was clear that the Congress was going to form the next government. He said the Congress would solve all long-pending demands and the issue of waiving of loans would also be settled.

Lashing out at the Akalis as well as the NDA-led Central government, he termed both of them as anti-farmers, industrialists, traders and youth. He alleged that the NDA government had always given step motherly treatment to Punjab and now was the right time for people of the state to settle the account by voting them out of power and form the Congress-led government.

He said Mr Badal had always been claiming himself to be the champion of the farmers’ cause, but neither he nor his representatives ever raised any demand or issue related to the farmers with the NDA government in which the SAD was also alliance partner.

Highlighting the achievements of his government, he said the state government had ensured the smooth purchase of paddy and wheat.

Addressing the rally Mr Dullo ridiculed the feel good factor” of the BJP and the “unity” of Akali factions. He said the “feel good factor” was for the rich and not for the poor.

Dr Harbans, Lal, MLA, Vaid Hari Krishan, President, DCC, Mr Sadhu Singh, MLA, Amloh, Mr Pardeep Malhotra, secretary, PPCC, Mr BB Verma, advocate and Mr Joginder Singh Maini also addressed the rally.


Sadhu Samaj, Bhaat Sikhs to support Preneet
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 2
The poll campaign of Ms Preneet Kaur, Congress candidate from Patiala parliamentary constituency today received another shot in the arm when representatives of the Patiala Sadhu Samaj and Bhaat Sikh community announced their decision to support her at a rally addressed by Finance Minister Lal Singh at Delite Colony here.

Speaking at the rally which was organised by Congress leader Ajay Thapar, Mr Lal Singh said the state would see all round development under the Congress rule and Ms Preneet Kaur along with the Chief Minister had been successful in addressing the basic problems being faced by people in the state. Asserting that unemployment would be erased from Punjab gradually if development related projects initiated by the Congress candidate were allowed to continue, Mr Lal Singh appealed to the people to use their right to vote judiciously.

Councillor Arun Kumar and his supporters announced their decision to join Congress today. Three prominent leaders of the Sadhu Samaj were also present at the rally alongwith their supporters and they offered unconditional support to Ms Preneet Kaur. Ms Harjinder Laad, an NRI who had supported the SAD during the last Lok Sabha elections today pledged the support of the Bhaat Sikh community to the Congress candidate.

The rally was also addressed by Ms Harpriya Kaur, wife of Malvinder Singh, younger brother to the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Others present on the occasion, included Sanjiv Garg, Rana Shergill , Atul Sharma. Gurjit Guri and Prof Jeet Singh.


Local issues matter more for voters
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 2
National issue like “swadeshi” or “videshi” Prime Minister hold no relevance in this reserved parliamentary constituency as the voters are more concerned about their day-today problems.

Instead of hoping that the elected representative of this seat will make efforts to provide them better roads, adequate water for drinking agricultural purpose, employment opportunities and to put to an end to the menace of stray animals, a large section of the voters is concerned more about the “deeds” of leaders of all political outfits.

Said Mr Rajeev Kumar, a social activist, leaders talked differently during the election campaign and would make tall promises to fetch votes for their respective candidates. After the elections, these leaders forget about the pressing problems of electorates.

Over the years, the people had started losing faith in the politicians.

“How can Capt Amarinder Singh seek votes for CPI candidate. Kushal Bhora when he engineered a defection in the same party and bring two CPI MLAs to the Congress about more than a year ago. Apart from it, how the local Congress MLA can ask for votes for Mr Bhora when he himself strongly opposed that the CPI should not be allotted the Bathinda seat in the presence of Punjab Congress President H.S. Hanspal a few months ago,” asked a local resident, Mr Gyan Chand, who commands a considerable influence on the urban and rural voters.

A large section of the Congressmen of this constituency were indifferent as they were annoyed over the fact that Late MP, Bhan Singh Bhora never took them into confidence before allocating grants from his MPLAD funds.

On the other hand, the SAD-BJP alliance candidate, Ms Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, has been facing problems on various counts.

“What we have been apprehending is the fact that Ms Gulshan would disappear from his constituency after being elected as an MP like Mr Harinder Singh Khalsa, who was returned to the Lok Sabha in 1996 from his seat as the SAD (B) candidate. Mr Khalsa failed to deliver goods as most of time he kept himself away from constituency,” pointed out Mr Joginder Singh, a farmer of Mansa district.

Mr Sarbjit Singh, SAD (A) candidate and son of Beant Singh, one of the assassins of Indira Gandhi, who hails from Maloya village situated near Chandigarh and Ropar has also been facing problems as a large section of voters have been asking that what his grandfather Mr Sucha Singh Maloya, who was elected MP from here by getting sympathy votes in 1989, had done of the constituency. Mr Sarbjit Singh like his grandfather has been seeking votes for the sacrifice of his father.

For how long the family members of Late Beant Singh will continue to seek votes from the people in lieu of sacrifice made by him (Late Beant Singh) Why Mr Sarbjit Singh did not contest the election from the Ropar (reserve) constituency, which was represented by her mother in 1989,” asked a large section of voters including traders, educationists and farmers.

There are about nine more candidates for this seat.


Gujral for improving education
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 2
Former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral today stressed upon the need to improve education system in Punjab for overall development of the state.

Mr Gujral, addressing a rally here in favour of his son and SAD nominee Naresh Gujral, said that there was need to use technologies for imparting education at the grass-root level particularly in villages to improve personality of the youth.

Expressing concern over bad state of the government schools particularly in villages, he further maintained that the educational institutions reflected state’s economy and status since these were responsible for producing good citizens.

Besides, educated communities could only achieve targets of development and would help in raising living standards of people, he said, adding that his son would place ‘education’ top on his priority and would strive hard to improve education system after winning the elections.

Later, at another rally, Mr Naresh Gujral said that the Congress had failed to initiate development works in the state during its more than two years of rule. “Instead, the Congress government indulged in registering false cases against Akali leaders and workers to settle political scores, he added.


Cong, BJP claim credit for bridge
Vimal Sumbly

Tribune News Service

Naushera Pattan (Gurdaspur), May 2
The Naushera-Pattan bridge has shortened the distance between Gurdaspur and Jalandhar by about 100 km. It was a long pending demand of the people of the area. Ultimately the bridge was completed in 2003, with Khanna claiming that he was instrumental in the construction of the bridge. However, his predecessor and five time MP from here, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, also laid claims over it getting full support from the government as the Congress was in power.

The Naushera-Pattan bridge stands as a lonely sign of development in an otherwise forsaken area. There are other pontoon bridges that have been constructed on the Ravi and various other seasonal rivulets, but the Pattan bridge remains of prime importance. Since it benefits a vast area and lakhs of people, it is obviously bound to yield good political dividends for everyone. And probably that explains the high voltage drama on August 20, 2003, when Khanna was prevented by the police to inaugurate the bridge a day ahead of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was scheduled to inaugurate it. Mr Khanna was the Union Minister of State for External Affairs.

People appear to be divided about crediting the completion of the bridge. In fact, it is political loyalties that determine attributing the credit. While the supporters of Ms Bhinder pointed out that the bridge was constructed by the state government after getting a loan from Nabard, Khanna’s supporters maintain that the “government hijacked the bridge” for its partisan gains although it was he (Khanna) who helped in its construction.

The fact remains that people feel they have been benefited. But as who among the politicians should be benefited in return, they remain ambiguous.


Defeat NDA, bank staff told
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 2
The Punjab Bank Employees Federation (PBEF) has given a call to bank employees to defeat the NDA alliance in the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab in protest against its “anti-banking” policies, especially over the issue of proposed reduction of government equity in public sector banks from minimum 51 per cent to 33 per cent.

The federation has also asked the bank employees to vote and support the Congress and Left parties in the current Lok Sabha elections as they had raised a voice in favour of bank employees’ demand, relating to maintaining government equity in public sector banks to 51 per cent, by opposing a Bill, tabled by the NDA government.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Devinder Singh and Mr N.K. Gaur, vice-president and general secretary, respectively of the association, further said due to the opposition by the Congress and the Left parties, the Bill could not be passed in Parliament. They said the defeat of the NDA alliance in these Lok Sabha elections was must to stop it from passing this “anti-banking” Bill in the Parliament.

Both leaders were here in connection with a regional convention of the association on the topic “Role of working classes, especially bank employees, in 14 Lok Sabha elections”. The convention was also attended by Mr S.K. Gautam, State General Secretary of the State Bank of Patiala (SBOP) Employees Union, Mr Amrik Singh Ahi, President of the SBOP Officers’ Association, Mr Pali Ram Bansal, Secretary, All-India Gramin Bank Officers Association and Mr K.K. Sehgal; and treasurer, All-India SBOP Employees Federation.

Mr Gaur also clarified that though his organisation did not agree with all policies of the Congress but it had supported the cause of bank employees on the issue of government equity in public sector banks, so the PBEF had decided to support the Congress in Lok Sabha elections.


Check opportunistic alliances, EC urged
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 2
Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary, General Samaj Party, today urged the Election Commission to check the opportunistic alliances of various political parties, which were harming the democracy.

Mr Sidhu, in a statement issued here yesterday, claimed that the “big” political parties were forging “unholy and opportunistic” alliances to get power. He said that the politics of opportunism had dipped to such a low level that the parties, which were fighting a fierce battle for one seat, had entered into an alliance for the adjoining seat. This had created resentment among the voters, he observed.

Mr Sidhu demanded that a law should be enacted to make it mandatory that the alliances of political parties should be based on the constitutions of the respective parties. Mr Suresh Goyal, the organising secretary of the party, said the election expenses should be brought down to Rs 50,000. This would control the use of money and muscle power in the elections, he maintained.

He claimed that the party had been getting a good response for their Bathinda seat candidate, Mr Gurpreet Singh, who had toured various villages of the district.


RO favouring Brar, says Zora Singh Mann
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, May 2
Mr Zora Singh Mann, SAD candidate from Ferozepore, has charged the Returning Officer (RO) of Ferozepore for extending undue favours to the Congress candidate.

In a press note issued here, Mr Mann said several complaints regarding violation of the model Code of Conduct by the Congress candidate, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, had been made to the RO but no action had been initiated by him in this regard.

The press note further said that unauthorised video footages were being screened on nine video mobile vans campaigning for the Congress candidate and the same had been brought to the notice of RO. But he had not instructed the Congress candidate to stop this violation. It said a permission from the Election Commission was mandatory to play video advertisements for election campaign but the mobile video vans of Mr Brar were screening the films other than permitted by the Election Commission.

Apart from it, the Congress candidate was moving in a convoy comprising 30 to 40 vehicles and the RO had so for not taken any notice of it. A complaint in this regard had also been faxed to the Election Commission of India, Mr Mann added.


Govt staff working for Sonia’s rally, says ex-Speaker
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 2
Mr Inder Iqbal Singh, election Agent of Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, joint SAD-BJP and BKU candidate from the Phillaur parliamentary constituency, and a former Punjab Speaker, has submitted a complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi and the State Election Commission, against the violation of model code of conduct by the Congress government in connection with the election rally of Ms Sonia Gandhi, to be held here tomorrow.

A press note by Mr Atwal here today alleged that the Congress government in Punjab was misusing its state machinery for Ms Sonia Gandhi’s tomorrow’s rally here. Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal in his complaint said it was shocking that the district transport officers, Punjab Police, and other government officials were working for the Congress. Hundreds of buses and private vehicles had been mobilised by officials from the entire Doaba region including Phagwara, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar etc., added Mr Atwal in his complaint.


Bhatia spent 10 crore on development projects
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 2
The Congress candidate, Mr R. L. Bhatia, yesterday claimed that the money allocated for the MP funds was fully utilized during his tenure as MP.

Providing documentary evidence of the 100 per cent usage of funds, the spokesman of the district Congress committee, Mr Surinder Arjun, said that out of Rs 10 crore allocated to Mr Bhatia, Rs 8 crore were spent for the construction of community halls, marriage palaces, dharamshalas for Dalits and home for the old besides laying new roads, streets, improving drainage and sewerage in the district.


NGO’s appeal to candidates
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 2
Sangat Langha, Kartarpur, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has urged all candidates in the fray from the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state to take up the issue pertaining to free passage to Sikh pilgrims for gurdwara Kartarpur in Pakistan with the Central Government.

In an appeal to the candidates, a spokesman for the NGO, Mr Harjinder Singh Randhawa, said though the Pakistan Government had agreed to grant free corridor from the border to the shrine for which no visa was required about four years ago, the Indian leadership was still to respond to the offer.


Colony residents to boycott poll
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 2
Anguished over the lack of basic amenities for more than a decade the residents of local Tower Enclave Colony today announced to boycott election.

The residents today blocked traffic near Wadala chowk and raised anti-government slogans. The president of Tower Enclave Welfare Society Mr Makhan Singh, addressing the gathering, alleged that though they had made several representations to the local Municipal Corporation authorities for providing drinking water supply, sewerage and streetlight in the locality, but nothing was done beyond giving hollow promises.


CPM (Pasla) backs 4 BSP candidates

Jalandhar, May 2
The CPM (Pasla) today declared that it would support the BSP candidates in Phillaur, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore parliamentary constituencies in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

Since our aim is to defeat both the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance in the state and in these four constituencies the BSP has emerged as a challenging force to the both ruling and main opposition alliance, we have decided to support the BSP candidates, Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, president of the party, said today. — PTI


Christians to support Cong
Our Correspondent

Batala, May 2
A meeting of various Christian organisations which was held here today under the banner of the Stewards of Creation (S.o.C.) decided to support the Congress in the elections. The meeting was attended by organisations belonging to Catholic Church, Church of North India (CNI) and other bodies.


Waiving of security loan: dons lock horns
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 2
Finance and Development Officer (FDO) Guru Nanak Dev University, Varinder Pal yesterday alleged that the facts given by Registrar Dr R.S. Bawa and Dr P.S. Raikhy, a senior professor of the school of Economics, relating to the waiving of Special Term Loan (STL) granted to Punjab between 1984-1994 for combating militancy, are ‘misleading’ were they were not based on facts given in the 11th Finance Commission Report.

In a statement here today, the FDO alleged that the facts given by both the economists seemed to reflect their pre-conceived notion which they tried to prove by selectively quoting from the said Report. Earlier, both economists had endorsed view- points of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh that the entire STL had not yet been waived as claimed by former Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral. Mr Varinder Pal lamented politicisation of an economic issue relating to the development of Punjab by various parties, including a section of the intellectuals.

Quoting from the report, Mr Varinder Pal said that there was no denying the fact that the STL granted to Punjab stood waived, as relief granted to the state during 1995-2000. At page 104 of the Report of the 11th Finance Commission, relief provided during this period has been indicated year-wise.

Regarding the waiving of the balance STL of Rs 3773 crore as claimed by Punjab, mention of which has been made in para 11.24 of the Report, and Rs 3396 crore (Rs 1810 crore on principal and Rs 1585 crore on account of interest) worked out by the Commission in para 11. 28 ibid , the recommendations of the 11th Finance Commission are clear. Talking about the moratorium on the payment of the loan, the Commission has stated, we recommend that a moratorium on the payment of instalments of debt and interests on the STL due for repayment may be given to the state of Punjab for period 2000 to 2005 so that the state was able to build economy and be in a position to repay the loan and the interest thereon. This would not extend to other loans and would be limited to Rs 3396 crores”… as regards the relief on the balance debt after the period of moratorium is over, it has been stated on the report: ‘we also recommend that the expenditure on security be worked out by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with state of Punjab and ministry of Finance and , to the extent that the state is entitled to be reimbursed on account of security related expenditure , the relief on the debt may be given to the state after the period of moratorium is over and after taking into account the waiver already given’.

As per the above recommendations of the Finance commission which have been approved by the Government of India, after conceded the Finance Commission/ that the state is entitled to the reimbursement of security related expenditure and the relief on the debt after period of moratorium is over, there should be no doubt that the loan stands waived. The language of the recommendation is not as complicated.

The FDO said that the state government needed to expedite the issue with the Ministry of Home Affairs with facts and figures about the expenditure on the security during the period under reference and get the issue settled before the period of moratorium was over. 


Avantika wants to see Ranjit a free person
Amardeep Bhattal
Tribune News Service

A face-to-face meeting between life convict Ranjit Singh Gill, alias Kukki, and Ms Avantika Maken, daughter of slain Congress leader Lalit Maken, arranged by an intermediary at Ludhiana yesterday, turned out to be an emotional affair. Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Maken assassination case last year, Ranjit is currently out on parole to attend to his ailing mother, Mrs Surjit Kaur, who is afflicted with cancer. Ms Avantika, who was in Ludhiana to campaign for her friend and Congress nominee Manish Tewari, spent nearly an hour with Ranjit, his sister, Dr Davinder Kaur, and brother-in-law, Dr Bhupinder Singh, before leaving for New Delhi.

Avantika was only five when her parents, Lalit Maken and Gitanjali Maken, were assassinated in New Delhi 19 years back. Ranjit Gill, who was named among the accused in the case, was arrested in the USA in 1987 and remained in prison ever since before being extradited to India in 2001. Last year he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment .

Talking to The Tribune today, Dr Davinder Kaur, sister of Ranjit, said : “Initially we feared a strong reaction from her but she listened to our story and regretted not having met us earlier. She was told that Ranjit had already lost his youth behind bars after being named as an accused in the case.”

“Avantika was surprised to know that Ranjit was not a radical, contrary to her earlier belief. The meeting helped in dispelling wrong impressions,” said Dr Davinder Kaur, while expressing gratitude to Ms Avantika for enabling them to present the facts in the right perspective.

According to sources, Ms Avantika admitted that the tragedies that befell both families were the outcome of political circumstances and not due to personal grudge or enmity. Ranjit reportedly told her that though it was difficult to turn the clock back, yet there was always scope for a new beginning and to work unitedly for betterment of society.

Ms Avantika, in turn, vowed to stand by the Gill family and assured all help in securing the release of Ranjit, whose case is pending before the remission committee in New Delhi. Ranjit was granted a two-week parole on February 25 this year which was subsequently extended up to May 11.


Bride says no to arrogant groom
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, May 2
The arrogance of a bridegroom cost him so dear that he had to return home without the bride even after the completion of all marriage ceremonies.

According to reports, a marriage party from Mamdot came at local Dashmesh Nagri for performing a marriage ceremony. The marriage rituals were completed without any hitch. A controversy erupted between the bride and bridegroom over the sharing of a food bite.

The bride’s friends insisted that the couple to share a bite as per tradition. Obliging to the wishes of her friends the bride offered a spoonful of rice to the bridegroom, which he ate. But however the bridegroom refused to reciprocate. He commented that the woman’s status in his eyes was not more than that a shoe of a man’s foot. Therefore, he would not bow out to her wishes.

The bride was shocked at his derogatory remarks. She refused to go with his would be husband.

Both sides attempted to defuse the situation but the bride declined to budge from her stand. Later both the parties agreed to the wishes of the bride and reached an agreement. The video film and still photograph rolls were destroyed and the marriage party had to return empty-handed.


Row between Army, civilians resolved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 2
The standoff between the Army and civilians over a road accident was resolved late last night with the intervention of senior Army and police officers.

According to eyewitness account, an Army truck was coming from the wrong side at the crowded Puttalighar Chowk area, where the BJP had erected a stage for its election rally, and hit a scooterist coming from the opposite side injuring him seriously.

The irate crowd, which was returning after attending the rally addressed by film star Poonam Dhillon, started thrashing the Army truck driver. However, his colleague managed to escape and informed his superiors that a mob was trying to burn the truck and kill the driver. Within a few minutes Army personnel, fully armed in five trucks along with their officers, reached at the site. The officers ordered the troops to cordon off the area and disperse the crowd while trying to detain the culprits, who manhandled the truck driver.

Some persons in the crowd immediately informed the police which rushed in with a big force to avert the clash. The senior officers of the Army and the police held a joint meeting brought about a compromise.

Meanwhile, injured scooterist Rakesh Kumar and the Army truck driver were admitted to a private nursing home.


Eat food in natural form to avoid ailments, says expert
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 2
Mr Avinash Chander Tejpal, Commissioner, Income Tax, Bathinda, said yesterday that eating food in its natural form was the best way to preserve health.

In an audio-video presentation on ‘Live Food Enzyme Therapy’ before a select gathering, Mr Tejpal said that food loses nutritious value to a considerable extent after it was cooked. He claimed that natural enzymes in the food are destroyed at a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius and above, and hence one should try to eat food in natural form to the maximum possible extent.

He said that the scientists could never find any ailment in blood samples of the animals, birds and other wild animals that had been feeding on natural, wild and raw diet.

He said that it was a Russian doctor who had found that natural raw food was the best tonic and was also the “natural human food’. He quoted studies conducted at some places in Pakistan, Russia and Ecuador, where a majority of the population had been consuming natural raw diet and was healthy even in their 90s.

Replying to the questions after the presentation, Mr Tejpal said that the so-called incurable diseases like high/low blood pressure, cancer, arhritis and diabetes were cured following this therapy. He pointed out that even healthy persons should start consuming their food in the raw natural form to preserve their health. Eating food in its natural uncooked form would lead to elimination of toxins from the body.

To a question he said that the patients starting this therapy should not quit medication without the advice of their doctors. He added that after seeing the positive results of this therapy the doctors attending the patients would advise stopping the medication.

Admitting that not all forms of vegetables, fruits and non-vegetarian diet could be eaten in raw form, Mr Tejpal said that the efforts should be made to increase the percentage of natural raw food in diet.

Claiming that Dr William D. Kelley (of USA) had cured as many as 33,000 cancer patients using the live food enzyme therapy, he said that he had also treated many patients of so-called incurable diseases in this region.

He said that a website—www.livefoods.org — had been launched for the benefit of the people interested in the study and propagation of the concept. He also advised the people to be cautious about the presence of harmful chemicals in the food.


SGPC honours Pak Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 2
Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC today honoured leaders of Pakistani Sindhi Sikh jatha —Mr Mahesh Singh and Mr Hari Singh — with siropas, shawls and photographs of the Golden Temple.

The Pakistani jatha had come here to participate in the 500th anniversary celebrations of Guru Angad Dev at Khadoor Sahib. They will return home on Sunday.


198 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 2
As many as 198 cases were settled through mutual compromise and a sum of Rs 1 crore was awarded as compensation at a quarterly Lok Adalat organised in the District Court and Sessions Court premises here yesterday.

Twelve Benches were constituted to settle civil, criminal, matrimonial, MACT, rent and other cases. Social workers and professors of the Law Department, GND varsity, were also inducted as members to assist the Benches.


Directive to seal Rajasthan border

Moga, May 2
Taking a serious view of “inflow and smuggling of poppy husk and illicit liquor” in Moga, Ferozepore and Muktsar districts, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has directed police chiefs of these districts to take all possible steps to check the smuggling and distribution of poppy husk and illicit liquor.

The Chief Minister claimed that he had specifically instructed the officials to seal the Punjab border with Rajasthan. — PTI


Botany lecturer points out mistakes in NCERT book
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 2
Mistakes have been pointed out in the botany portion of the biology textbook for Class XI, published by the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi.

Mr Rajesh Singla, a botany lecturer, who also runs a coaching centre, in his representation to the Director, and Secretary, NCERT, said that the book was being followed by lakhs of students all over the country. He pointed out that on page 81 of the book, it was mentioned that, “The blue-green algae, also called cyano-bacteria in monera include single-celled spirulina which was always a multi-cellular filament.”

Mr Singla added that on the same page, under the topic, ‘kingdom protista’ it was mentioned that the members of the kingdom were unicellular and multi-cellular, which was again wrong. He claimed that according to R.H. Whittaker system the members of the kingdom were only unicellular and not multicellular.

On page 83 of the book, second para, column 2, there was a mention of, ‘asexual spores like zoospores, gonidia, conidia, ascospores and basidiospores’, where as ‘ascospores’ and ‘basidiospores’ were not asexual spores, but were sexual spores of classes ascomycetes basidiomycetes, respectively. On the same page, under the heading of phycomycetes, the example of mucor had been given, which according to Mr Singla, was not a member of phycomycetes but was a member of zygomycetes, which was another class of fungus.

He said that as the book had been published by the NCERT, the students had complete faith in this book. He said that these errors could lead to drastic losses for the students as small mistakes in the competitive medical entrance exams could affect their merit list.

He claimed that so far he had gone through only a few sections of the book and had highlighted the mistakes. He also alleged that the book was not self-explanatory and urged the authorities to make necessary amendments in the books to safeguard the interest of the students.

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