P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SAD, BJP file plaint against CM
Ludhiana City Centre scam
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 16
In an apparent bid to maintain pressure on the government and keep the issue of the alleged Ludhiana City Centre scam alive, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP today lodged a complaint against the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and others with the Sarabha Nagar police, seeking the registration of an FIR for their alleged involvement in the scam.

Led by BJP general secretary and in charge of Punjab Arun Jaitley and SAD general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal along with activists went to the Sarabha Nagar police station in a procession. They filed a 17-page complaint for the registration of an FIR.

The complaint was received by the additional Station House Officer. He said while the police had received the complaint, the FIR could be registered only after due legal process. Moreover, a vigilance probe had already been ordered into the matter, a senior police official added.

They demanded the registration of a case against Capt Amarinder Singh, Ch Jagjit Singh, Local Government (Bodies) Minister, Punjab, Wg Cdr (retd) Paramjit Singh Sibia, chairman, Ludhiana Improvement Trust (now dissolved) and others for offences u/s 7,10,11,13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B, IPC, and their immediate arrest to prevent them from tampering with the records.

The complainants included Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, all MPs, Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi, Mr Bagh Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha and Mr Tikshen Sood, all MLAs.

Mr Jaitley and Mr Badal alleged that the entire scam was “conceived, masterminded and executed under the supervision of the Chief Minister in an unabashed display of misuse of power”.

Both warned that in case the Chief Minister did not resign to clear the decks for an independent investigation and hand over the case to the CBI, the alliance would take the issue to the people.


Politically motivated, says Capt
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 16
Though Capt Amarinder Singh today called the complaint lodged against him, Local Bodies Minister and former chairperson, Improvement Trust, Ludhiana, politically motivated, DGP, Punjab Police, S.S. Virk announced that the police would examine the complaint legally before acting on the same.

Talking informally to mediapersons at a local engineering college late in the evening, both Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Virk insisted that when the Vigilance Bureau had started investigation into the scam, the complaint did not carry any meaning.

However, Mr Virk preferred not to make any comment when asked that why the police had decided to get the complaint legally examined instead of ordering the registration of a case.

On the other hand, the Chief Minister said the complaint was politically motivated. However, when he was made aware of the fact that it was lodged by seven persons, including three MPs, he said if the police found anything genuine it could register a case.

When asked how the Inspector General (IG) of Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, could inquire into the scam in which a Cabinet minister was allegedly involved, the Chief Minister said the Vigilance Bureau was acting independently.

On being asked why he was hesitating to handover the investigation to the CBI, he said the latter would take at least 10 months and then it would be too late. The Vigilance Bureau would have to submit its inquiry report within a month.

He said he wanted to make one thing clear that the city centre project would not be stalled at any cost. He added that the state government had nothing to do with the project as it was a joint venture of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust and a private player.


No question of returning to BJP, says Uma Bharti
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
“There is no question of my returning to a party (Bharatiya Janta Party) whose leadership is going the Jinnah way after discarding the Ram path,” Ms Uma Bharti, president of the Bhartiya Janshakti Party and a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh said.

She was here to attend a Meet the Press programme at the Chandigarh Press Club. She also addressed a meeting of party workers from Punjab and Chandigarh today.

“They — the BJP leadership — have to come back to me as they have deviated from the ideology of the founders of the Jana Sangh and the BJP,” she said. She also revealed that she could not be proud or satisfied with either her ouster from the BJP or her leaving it on her own. “I still have the courage and conviction to stay on the path which the founders of our party had shown us.

“I never feel suffocated in politics. Rather I always enjoy a whiff of fresh air in politics. I believe in undertaking padyatra rather than getting into raths as I am a staunch supporter of transparency in politics which benefits the common man.

“The current dilemma facing the party is diversion from its ideology. This diversion will cost it dear in the four states where it is currently in power. Naturally, the beneficiary will be the Congress. If Ms Sonia Gandhi emerges stronger in these states, including Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, it will be all because of the BJP's wrongdoings. The BJP cannot ignore Ayodhya whose peaceful solution continues to be an important national issue affecting national security and peace in the country,” she said.

“I always got the support of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister. He used to listen to me at meetings of the Union Council of Ministers. I still have the highest personal regard for both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Lal Krishan Advani, former Deputy Prime Minister, in spite of ideological differences with them. I never felt insulted or cut up on parting ways with the BJP,” she added.

“India,” she said, “is the worst victim of both the market and religious fundamentalism.” Criticism of the Pope for the sake of criticism was bad. “Whatever the Pope said was for the learned Muslim community to make sure that a few fundamentalists were not allowed to bring their religion into disrepute.”

Ms Bharti, who is here to review her party's role in the regional politics, said she would attend the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) rally at Meham on September 25 as Mr Om Parkash Chautala had personally invited her.

“Before accepting the invitation for the September 25 rally, I made sure that I would not be asked at the last minute to stay away as it happened with me for the August 20 shradanjali samaroh of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal. A senior Akali leader, who initially invited me, later confided in me that my presence would be an embarrassment for senior BJP leaders who were to come to the rally.”

“I think Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), will attend the Meham rally. So now it is up to Mr Chautala to see whether my presence at Meham is a support or embarrassment for him,” she said.

“As far as Punjab is concerned, we may contest all seats on our own. Since we do not have a cadre of workers in Punjab, we want that each candidate should work and build the party base in the state. We hope to announce our candidates between November 15 and 30 so that they have enough time to work and build their teams,” said Ms Bharti.

In Punjab, the main poll issues were going to be social economic imbalances which were responsible for the growing incidence of suicides among farmers, growing unemployment, besides, the state losing its separate identity, she said.

“We will take a final decision soon,” added Ms Bharti. She revealed that there were certain political compulsions, including getting a minimum of 10 per cent votes in a minimum of four states for the party to get recognition by the Election Commission.“ So we have to be careful with whom to go in the coming elections so that we do not lose votes. As far as the common voter is concerned, he is aware of the socio-political and ideological agenda of each party and he goes by his own conviction,” she added.

“In Chandigarh also, we will assess our strength and decide about our participation in the coming Municipal Corporation elections,” Ms Bharti said.


SAD, BJP leaders meet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
A meeting of the Coordination Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP was held here tonight.

At the meeting, which was attended by senior Akali leaders, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, and BJP leaders, Mr Arun Jaitely, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna and Mr Rajinder Bhandari, discussion was held with regard to the allocation of constituencies to contest Assembly elections.

One of the senior Akali leaders who attended the meeting told The Tribune that it was a preliminary discussion on the allocation of Assembly segments.

One or two more meetings would be held to finalise the allocations.


Education Dept staff sans salary
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 16
As many as 2,000 employees of the Punjab Education Department, including principals, lecturers, masters, DPEs, Class III and Class IV employees, working in various senior secondary and high schools, have been waiting for salaries for the past two-to-four months as their posts have not been revived by the government so far.

These employees also include BEd teachers, who were promoted some months ago and teachers and employees who joined duty in other districts following transfer in the past few months.

Sources in the Education Department told The Tribune that the number of such teachers and other employees was about 2,000 in the state as in Sangrur district alone there were about 150 employees and teachers (master-cadre) who had not received salaries for the past two to four months.

These teachers and employees belonged to the non-plan permanent and the non-plan temporary categories.

The sources said there were 576 non-plan permanent posts and 710 non-plan temporary posts vacant in Sangrur district in December, 2005.

Out of the 500 vacant posts of master-cadre (teachers) in Sangrur district, 118 had been filled since May 2006.

Likewise, four posts of Principal, four posts of lecturer, seven posts of DPE, five posts of clerk and 12 posts of Class IV employee had been filled in the district in the past four months.

But the persons thus posted had not been receiving their salaries as these posts were yet to be revived by the Finance Department, Punjab, the sources added.

The office of the DPI (S) has not forwarded the case so far to the Punjab Government recommending the revival of the vacant posts for the reason that it can be forwarded only after receiving information regarding posting of teachers and other employees on the vacant posts from all districts of the state.

After receiving the case from the DPI (S), the government will forward the same to the Finance Department to revive the posts. It means that given the circumstances, the teachers and other employees will have to wait for the salaries two to three months more.

The sources also said the teachers and other employees were making rounds of the office of the DEO (S) here to know when they would receive salaries stuck for the past few months as they were facing a financial crisis.


Employees’ bodies divided over increase in retirement age
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
A divided opinion has emerged with regard to various demands of the Punjab Government employees.

A section of employees’ unions that attended a meeting of a sub-committee of the Punjab Cabinet, headed by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said they did not want an increase in the retirement age while another group of unions was in favour of increasing it. The meeting was held at the Punjab Bhawan in the evening.

Most of the associations of officers like those of PCS officers, Doctors, college teachers, among others, are in favour of an increase in the retirement age from the existing 58 years to 60 years.

They claim the government will actually gain by increasing the retirement age. Also the IAS, the IPS and the IFS officers retire at 60 years and so do the Class IV employees, they argue to bolster their case.

Sources said the employees’ bodies also represented to Mrs Bhattal that the Finance Department was giving wrong calculations with regard to the financial liability of the government in implementing the promotional scale after every 4, 9 and 14 years of service.

One of the unions said the liability of the government in implementing this scale was no more than Rs 250 crore.

Among other demands were the medical allowance of Rs 1,000 per month, a new pension-calculation formula, regularisation of daily wagers and contractual staff and fixation of a time frame for the new pay commission.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, assured them that their genuine demands would be considered sympathetically before submitting the report to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

She said the report of the committee would be discussed in the Cabinet meeting and final announcement would be made by the Punjab Chief Minister.

Other members of the Cabinet sub committee were Mr Lal Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra and Mr Surinder Singla.


Maize crop failure in 100 villages
Govt agencies blamed for poor quality seeds
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 16
Farmers of over 100 villages in Nangal and Nurpurbedi subdivision of the district have suffered heavy losses due to failure of maize crop allegedly due to supply of lower quality seeds to farmers by government agencies. The situation aggravated as most of them were debt-ridden and hoping for good yield of crop this time to repay loan.

Farmers rued that they were cheated by government agency, including Markfed, by supplying poor quality seeds (Dhaniya hybrid-879) through co-operative societies in their villages. They were shocked as plants of maize did not grow enough and have no grains within them. The agricultural department too confirmed the damages of the crop in two subdivisions, but yet to find the exact cause of it.

With no crop in hand, it has become impossible for the farmers to return their dues and run livelihood. They were running pillar to post to convince the authorities to seek compensations for the damaged crop. They also demanded action against the officials responsible for it, the farmers added.

In Nangal subdivision, villages suffered crop failure include Sehjauwal, Bhattau, Plasi, Gohlani, Bhaldi, Bhainspur, Sukhshal, Bhallana Mazra, Dayapur, Daghoda. While in Nurpurbedi, villages include Chanuli Bajrood, Kheri, Sashkaur, Lakhon.

“I took a loan of 20,000. Seeds were purchased from a co-operative society with assurance that it would yield good crop. But all in vain, the plants produce no grains.It has become difficult for me to pay back dues and to run livelihood” said farmer Bakshish Singh of Gohlani village .

Other farmers, Mahinder Lal and Banta Singh of Dhani Bela village, said they had grown maize in one kila but it yielded nothing. Now, it would be extremely difficult for us to pay loan to fulfil other daily needs. We have lost faith in the government agencies supplying seeds.

The crop failure had affected the lives of the poor farmers. The farmers have to spend a lot on seeds, pesticides and diesel. In one kila, the farmers were assured to get a crop of about Rs 20,000. But most of the farmers here suffered crop failure, said the president of the district self-employed Kisan Mazdoor Union, Mr Iqwal Singh. The government should award proper compensation to the farmers. He along with other farmers also submitted memorandum in this regard to the Deputy Commissioner.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, has directed the Chief Agricultural Officer, Ropar, to conduct the survey of the affected villages and to submit report.

The Chief Agricultural Officer, Dr Harvinder, said the farmers had suffered damages in Nangal and Nurpurbedi. ‘’We have been conducting survey of the areas and need two more days to prepare a detailed report about the exact damages’’, he added.


CPI rules out pact with Cong
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
The CPI has ruled out any poll alliance with the Congress in Punjab in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections. In the last Assembly elections, the CPI had an electoral alliance with the Congress in the state.

In an exclusive interview, the Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Mr Jagroop Singh, here today said Left parties were making efforts to form a third front with like -minded parties to give a “tough” fight to the Congress as well as the SAD-BJP alliance in the coming Assembly elections.

“We have differences with the Punjab Government on many policy matters, ” he added. And this had been made clear to the CPI's top brass in Delhi. “We cannot move with the Congress in the elections because the economic policies implemented by it in Punjab are totally against the political ideology and line of the CPI,” Mr Jagroop Singh said.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his close associates had ruined all government departments engaged in the services delivery system. The objective behind ruining such departments was to enable the entry of private organisations in such areas of service. He said health services had already been handed over to private parties and the same was being done in case of the Animal Husbandry Department.

By failing to appoint teachers in government schools, the education system has been crippled in the countryside, he added. The corporatisation of the agriculture sector by the present government was another area of concern for the CPI, he said.

He said the government was using repressive measures against unemployed youth who raised their voice to seek employment. “The way unemployed youth have been beaten up at various places in Punjab and Chandigarh, has been a shameful exercise on part of the government,” he added.

“Instead of giving employment, trained youth are treated shabbily by using lathis against them,” he said. Even women had not been spared by the police he added.

“How can the CPI have electoral alliance with such a ruling party which has been using lathis to beat its own people,” he said. Four Left parties were negotiating with each other to form a third front in the state. They were: The CPI, the CPM, the All-India Forward Block and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), he said. The Lok Bhalai Party headed by Mr Balwant Singh Ramuwalia could also be a part of the third front.

Talking about the mega projects, he said these were in fact “mega scandals”. Such projects would provide no jobs to educated youth. These projects had been cleared to make money. Already one mega project at Ludhiana had hit the headlines. Others would follow, he asserted.

“We are fighting for the people and they will support us in the coming elections,” he said. He said the SAD-BJP alliance had waged no struggle for the people of the state. It had been playing “ reactive politics,” he said.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |