P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Chhibber’s report on Dullo, 3 others accepted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
As expected, the Punjab Assembly today passed a resolution endorsing the report of a former Punjab Governor, Lieut Gen B.K.N. Chhibber (retd), in which he had turned down the recommendations of the Lokpal for initiating action against four ministers in the erstwhile Beant Singh government. Following the Governor’s comments, the recommendations were tabled in the Assembly in September 1999.

The resolution stated: “To settle this issue once for all, this House expresses its satisfaction and agrees with the decision of the competent authority (Governor) taken in the matter of the reports of the Punjab Lokpal”.

These four Congressmen comprised PPCC chief S.S Dullo, Punjab Rural Development Minister Lal Singh, Bal Mukund Sharma and Lakhmir Singh Randhawa.

Mr Lal Singh, who was present in the House, described this action initiated by the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD regime as “vendetta and nothing else”. The other three watched the proceedings from the visitors’ gallery as the Treasury Benches spoke in favour of the resolution, which was carried out through a voice vote as the Opposition had been suspended.

Moving the resolution, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ch Jagjit Singh stated that this matter was being grossly misused by various lobbies with vested interests, including the Opposition parties, giving hype in the media. Thus, he said, the Assembly needed to finally draw the curtains on this issue by acknowledging the report of the former Governor in this regard.

Defending his party colleagues, Finance Minister Surinder Singla said, “It is a phobia with the Akalis to level wild and baseless allegations against the Congress”. Two other speakers Gurbinder Atwal and Romesh Dutt Sharma termed the cases launched by Mr Badal as political vendetta and said the Lokpal was functioning wrongly.

Mr Lal Singh said, “Most of the complaints were suo moto or did not have the sanction of the Governor”. He said his family was hounded by policemen unleashed by Mr Badal. “Lokpal H.S. Rai was a relative of Mr Badal and was appointed for considerations other than merit,” he said.

Mr Lal Singh went on to allege that “Justice Rai was bestowed favours and the government even tried to re-appoint him even after the High Court had declared his appointment as null and void”.

Meanwhile, the Assembly also passed a resolution to increase the loan limit of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) from the existing Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 8,000 crore.

Speaker Kewal Krishan clarified that no record of the Vidhan Sabha was tampered as alleged in the privilege motion moved by the Akalis. He said there was a suggestion to form a committee and the same was announced.

The Chief Minister had said the committee should also look into the three projects belonging to the period when the SAD-BJP combine was in power. The minutes of the discussion were circulated to the members, who then pointed out that there was no unanimity on the scope of the committee. A correction was issued on April 21 to remove the announcement for the formation of the committee.


Capt focuses on development issues
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Presenting the report card with regard to the performance of his government during the past four and a half years, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said in the state Assembly that he had laid the foundation for building a modern Punjab in such a manner that even the most incompetent governments would not be able take it back from the path of development in future.

Speaking during the last session of the current Vidhan Sabha, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the Opposition leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, avoided taking part in the debate on the floor of the House because he( Badal) had no guts to face any challenge from the Treasury Benches on development issues.

Obviously unfolding a part of his strategy in the coming Assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh made it known on the floor of the House that his party would go to the people to seek re-election in the name of development. “ People will re-elect us on seeing our performance on all fronts”, he added.

Interestingly, Capt Amarinder Singh, who spoke for 35 minutes, did not strike hard against either Mr Badal or his party. His entire focus was on development work. In his speech, he targeted Mr Badal and his son but in a mild tone as compared to his earlier manner when he used to virtually explode against them.

Capt Amarinder Singh’s mother was present in the Governor’s gallery. Security did not allow any visitor in the gallery meant for commoners. In VIP galleries, former MLAs and ex-Ministers were sitting.

The SAD-BJP regime handed over a devastated Punjab to the present government in February, 2002. “We have changed the whole scenario in the state”, Capt Amarinder Singh said, speaking in the absence of the SAD and BJP MLAs, who were suspended from the House on September. In the House, it was an all-Congress show as there was no one to disturb them on the Opposition Benches. There were certain Independent MLAs in the House but most of them were ruling party supporters.

Starting with agriculture, the Chief Minister said that he had given a new direction to this sector, which had remained ignored for several decades. “ We have succeeded in conveying the message to farmers for value addition at the field level and breaking away from the traditional paddy-wheat cropping pattern”, he said.

Knowledge-based industry had started striking root in cities like Mohali because of the efforts made by the present government, he added. Several new educational institutions had been set up, new universities opened and the economy had been put back on the rails, Capt Amarinder Singh said. Taking a dig at the senior Badal, he said when years ago the Akali leader as Chief Minister used to visit Ludhiana, industrialists used to run away to Kathmandu for obvious reasons.

By December-end, investment in mega industrial and housing projects would touch Rs 1,00,000 crore in Punjab, which had now become a number one investment destination, said Capt Amarinder Singh. Industrial exports had gone up to Rs 12,000 crore in the past four years. Several new power projects had been launched. Rural and urban infrastructure had been upgraded. As many as 18 road corridors had been strengthened. “ Bijli, pani, sadak and rozgar for all by 2012”, was the concluding line of his speech.

The ruling party had fielded all senior leaders, including, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, to speak on various development issues related to agriculture, roads, irrigation, infrastructure, education, the health services etc. Mr Sucha Singh Chhottepur, an Independent MLA, also spoke. The Chief Minister was the last speaker.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the senior Badal ran away from playing a match on the development agenda. “ After remaining the Chief Minister of the state three times, Mr Badal should not have played with the decorum and protocol of the House on September 15. And his son, who remained present in the Governor’s gallery should not have instigated his party MLAs to shout slogans and ghearo the Chief Minister”, said Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

“We had the capacity to react in the same manner but we did not because our party MLAs believe in upholding the decorum of the House”, he said. Mr Bir Devinder Singh spoke less on development issues and his entire speech was a stinging political attack on the Opposition leader.


Assembly nod to quota for Mazhbi Sikhs, Balmikis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Bill-2006, entailing a fixed percentage of reservation for Mazhbi Sikhs and Balmikis, was approved by the Punjab Assembly today.

Turning a bit emotional, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, thanked the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, for running the House in an efficient manner.

He wished to see him again in the Assembly for the ninth time after the forthcoming Assembly elections. Today was the concluding day of the last session of the 12th Vidhan Sabha.

The Bill envisages that 50 per cent of the vacancies in direct recruitment, as per the quota reserved for Scheduled Castes, shall be offered to Mazhbi Sikhs and Balmikis as the first preference.

The Bill further says the percentage of reservation for filling up vacancies by promotion in Scheduled Castes category under group ‘A’ and group ‘B’ services shall be 14 per cent. For group ‘C’ and group ‘D’, it shall be 20 per cent.

The Assembly also approved a crucial amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure that will allow the police to produce a person in court via a video link. The physical presence will not be mandatory.

The Minister for Revenue, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, withdrew the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Amendment Bill.

The other Bills to be approved were the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill, the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (Second Amendment) Bill and the Punjab Motor Vehicles Taxation ( Amendment) Bill.

The Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes (Amendment) Bill and the Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill were also passed. The last one fixes the pension for MLAs.


CM ‘dampens’ hopes of farmers, employees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Contrary to the expectations of employees and farmers, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh did not make any announcement in the Punjab Assembly with regard to their demands. While employees were expecting that the Chief Minister would announce the promotional scale on the completion of four, nine and 14 years of service, the farmers were looking forward to relief package on loans.

The employees were also expecting enhancement of medical allowance and naming of the members and chairman of the proposed pay commission. However, the Chief Minister did not touch any of these issues.

The BKU was expecting to prepone the date of procurement of paddy from October 1 to September 21. However, it did not happen. Paddy has started arriving in various markets. In the absence of government procurement agencies, it is being purchased by private traders.

Sources said the government was awaiting the response of the Union Government with regard to the package to be given to farmers with regard to loans.


Bir Devinder is best Parliamentarian
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Kharar MLA Bir Devinder Singh, who is an eloquent debater, was unanimously nominated as the best Parliamentarian of the 12th Vidhan Sabha.

This was announced by Speaker Kewal Krishan in the Assembly here today. A function would be held soon to felicitate him.


Sidhu ready to contest against CM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 19
BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu would resign from the Lok Sabha before contesting Assembly elections from Patiala if the party high command issued directive in that regard.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he said he would keep his promise of not visiting his hometown Patiala during his term as an MP. However, if the party high command directed him to contest Assembly elections against Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, he would accept the challenge as a “sepoy of the party”.

Although he could contest without resigning as an MP, yet he would not deceive the voters of Amritsar who had sent him to Parliament with big margin of votes, he added.

He was commenting on the statement of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD MP, who had indicated that he (Mr Sidhu) could be fielded as the SAD-BJP candidate from Patiala against the Chief Minister.

He said he would obey the orders of the party high command or even that of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president, but would resign as an MP before entering such a contest.

The BJP MP said though he could decide on the matter within 15 days after getting elected to the Vidhan Sabha, his integrity and honour did not allow that. He said he was never hungry for power and had joined politics only with a mission to serve the people. He said accountability and transparency was his mission in life. He said Mr Badal and BJP stalwart Mr Arun Jaitley were his role models.

He said an MP’s performance should be judged by his performance in Parliament. He said recently he had sought record from the Parliament’s library and was amused to see that nobody in Parliament had put a single question regarding Amritsar during the past 30 years.

Pathankot: Meanwhile, Mr Avinash Khanna, state president of the BJP, today said Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu would not contest against the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the forthcoming Assembly elections from Patiala. He said the BJP would use him as a star campaigner rather than confining him to a single constituency.

On seat-sharing between the SAD and the BJP, he said a consensus had already been reached on BJP’s contesting 15 seats and further deliberations were on. Ability to win election would be the sole criteria for selections of candidates, irrespective of the fact whether they belonged to the SAD or the BJP.

The BJP would hold a rally at Ludhiana tomorrow in protest against scam worth crores in the Ludhiana Improvement trust, he added.

The party organised a rally at the Ramlila ground here today. Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu addressed the gathering and flayed the Chief Minister for shielding corrupt minister.


Woman held for husband’s murder, paramour at large
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 19
A woman allegedly killed her husband in connivance with her paramour at Sandhwa village in the Chamkaur Sahib subdivision last night.

Sukhwinder Kaur, wife of the deceased, was arrested this evening while her lover Sukhwinder Singh was at large.

Forty-year-old Ranjit Singh was done to death brutally by causing multiple injuries on his body with a sword.

Sukhwinder Singh struck Ranjit Singh with a sword repeatedly while Surinder Kaur caught hold of her husband.

The couple had a 16-year-old son, who had been living separately with her grandmother.

During interrogation, Sukhwinder Kaur confessed that she had an affair with Sukhwinder Singh.

Her husband was a drug addict and used to beat her up after coming to know about the affair.

She had planned to eliminate her husband and had taken Sukhwinder Singh into confidence.

She hatched a conspiracy after meeting Sukhwinder Singh at Khamano in Fatehgarh Sahib yesterday.

She told him about the cruelty of her husband and offered to pay Rs 2 lakh to him if he killed her husband.

She had paid Rs 15,000 to Sukhwinder Singh, according to the police.

The incident took place around midnight when Ranjit Singh came home from the ‘anaj mandi’ in Fatehgarh Sahib after the procurement of paddy.

Sukhwinder Singh, who was present in the house, cut electricity wires as Ranjit Singh entered the house.

When Ranjit Singh went out of the house to start a generator, he was killed by the duo.

The matter came to light when Ranjit Singh’s uncle Amrik Singh, during his morning walk, noticed Sukhwinder Singh coming out of the house wearing blood-stained clothes.

Sukhwinder Kaur did not reveal anything when he enquired, but he spotted Ranjit Singh’ body lying a pool of blood, after which he called the police.

The police was conducting raids to nab Sukhwinder Singh and the weapon used in the crime was yet to be recovered.


BSP to go it alone in Assembly poll
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 19
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will not have alliance with any political party in Punjab and will put up its own candidates on all 117 seats in the forthcoming Assembly elections, Mr Narinder Kashyap, national general secretary of the BSP, told mediapersons here today.

Terming the Congress and SAD-BJP combine as political mafia, Mr Kashyap said whenever elections were held in the state, the two parties announced that they were having alliance with the BSP in the state for luring the Dalit voters. But the two parties had no concern for the poor, Dalit and farming community of the state and were misusing the public funds to swell their bank balances, he added.

Mr Kashyap appealed to the people to boycott these parties and vote in favour of the BSP to save Punjab.

He said the party had already finalised the list of 40 candidates and had given representation to all, including OBC and general category candidates, besides SC/ST candidates.

Criticising the embezzlement of public funds by the representatives of the people in the government for filling their own coffers, Mr Kashyap said though the SAD had raised hue and cry over the Rs 2100-crore City Centre scam but it had no right to do so as SAD leaders were also involved in the embezzlement of Rs 3,500 crore.

He said the government should order a CBI enquiry to bring forth the truth behind the whole episode.

On the question of rape case against Gaganjit Singh Barnala, SAD MLA, Mr Kashyap said it was unfortunate and it was for the people to decide to keep such elements out of the state Assembly.


BJP to organise ‘oust Capt rally’

Amritsar, September 19
After the “parda fash” rally (exposing the government), the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to organise a “takhta palt” (Oust Congress government) rally, here in October.

Talking to The Tribune today, Dr Baldev Parkash, a senior national leader and former Cabinet minister of Punjab, said senior leaders of national fame would address the rally.

Dr Chawla described the government as the “most corrupt” government that had surpassed all previous records of corruption. He alleged that most of the Congress ministers and leaders had amassed wealth in connivance with “land mafia” which would be brought to book after the formation of the SAD-BJP government.

Dr Chawla claimed that the SAD-BJP combine would win at least 100 seats out of 117 in the forthcoming Assembly elections. He said the BJP workers wont rest till the Capt Amarinder Singh government was ousted. — TNS


35 SGPC members seek action against Badal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 19
At least 35 SGPC members, led by Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, met Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, and sought action against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, for accepting a donation of Rs 8 lakh from the ITC, a tobacco company as party fund .

In a press release issued here today, the SGPC members belonging to Gurdwara Reform Movement (II) submitted a memorandum, describing the “party fund” as gross violation of Sikh maryada that prohibited tobacco. They said the ITC had revealed in its audit report that it had given Rs 8 lakh to the SAD which was a government record .

The memorandum alleged that the Jathedar, Akal Takht, had failed to take action against Mr Badal and his colleagues though there were glaring examples of violation of maryada in the past.


Dharna by CPM activists
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 19
Activists of the CPI(M) organised a dharna in front of the district administrative complex here today in protest against the alleged failure of the Bassi Pathana police in arresting the culprits who had beaten up the district secretary of the CPI(M).

They raised slogans against the police and threatened to launch an agitation if the culprits were not booked.

Addressing the protesters, Prof Balwant Singh alleged that the law and order situation in the state had been worsening day by day.

Wards of politicians and officials were involved in these crimes and all this had been happening with the connivance of the Punjab police, he claimed.


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