P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Son-rise Badal’s main agenda: CM
Cong puts up unity show, Dullo all praise for Amarinder
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), December 8
Describing Mr Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Badal and their coterie as a "gang of the corrupt", Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today said the return of the Shiromani Akali Dal to power would be "dangerous for the people of Punjab".

There was danger of power going into the hands of "rogue elements with the ascent of Sukhbir Badal to the post of Chief Minister".

Addressing a mammoth rally at SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal's native village, Capt Amarinder Singh said the SAD didn't have leaders of the ilk of Baba Kharak Singh and Master Tara Singh. "It has turned into a private company of Badal in which you will find people like Bibi Jagir Kaur, who is accused of killing her daughter, and Tota Singh who fleeced farmers and jobless youth during the SAD regime. Former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is sentenced to a three-year jail term for culpable homicide, is also close to the SAD leaders," he said.

On the SC verdict on Mr Badal's plea in a corruption case, he said the apex court's order had paved the way for the trial of the father-son duo and he would recover “every single penny of ill-gotten wealth” from them.

Throwing the gauntlet at Mr Badal on his home turf, the Captain said: " Akali leadership lacks vision. Ask Badal why he didn't terminate water-sharing agreements and instead chose to push the entire state into turmoil by launching Kapuri Morcha on the SYL issue. He went to jail, while thousands of innocent people died in the movement. This is no way to rule a state."

Drawing parallels with his own government with that of the SAD, he said the Congress government had protected the state's waters in a lawful manner, saving the state's nine lakh acres of agricultural land from turning barren. He said despite being a farmer himself, Mr Badal had not thought of providing quality cotton seed and pesticides to farmers of the cotton belt. And this belt had witnessed several cases of suicide by farmers.

He credited his government with rejuvenating the economy of the cotton belt with the crop turnout estimated to touch a record 26 lakh bales in the current season. He said the state had attracted an investment of Rs 96,000 crore in the industrial sector and 70,000 youths had been given jobs in the most fair and transparent manner.

To dispel the impression of a rift between the CM and the PPCC chief, the party today put up a united face at the rally. The PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, showered praises on the Chief minister, crediting him for putting the economy back on track and ushering in all-round development .

He alleged Mr Badal’s sole agenda was to make his son Chief Minister. Deputy CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal alleged that the SAD had done nothing for Dalits and farmers during its regime, while its ally (BJP) had followed divisive politics.

Six political leaders today joined the Congress at its Vikas Rally. They were ex-MLA Ramesh Singla, ex-minister Babu Ram Chawla ,ex-MLA Surinderpal Singh Thamanwal, ex-MLA Karnail Singh Dod, Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha from Sunam and Capt Gurjeet Singh from Sant Singh Dhuri's family.

It was homecoming for the first two, as they were in the Congress in the past. Punjab ministers Surinder Singla, Lal Singh, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Avtar Henry, Harnam Das Johar, Amarjeet Singh Samra, Hans Raj Joshan and Chaudhary Jagjeet Singh, MP Preneet Kaur and PPCC general secretary Raninder Singh were also present.


SAD woos Dalits, poor with atta, dal
Ajay Banerjee & Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Ajitwal (Moga), December 8
The top leadership of the SAD-BJP combine, at a massive rally here today, declared the agenda for the ensuing Assembly elections, promising subsidised flour and pulses, filing of vacancies within six months of coming to power and a health insurance scheme for farmers at an impressive rally here today.

The target seems to woo the Dalits and the poor, traditionally considered pro-Congress, and not restrict the party image to that of pro-farmer. Mr Badal promised something for almost every section-be it traders, industrialists or the unemployed. His son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal warned that the Chief Minister and his ministers would have to face the law for the “land scams”.

Perhaps in the foot steps of Chief Ministers of southern states, who serve the electorate with populist election promises, the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, announced that all Dalits, the Backwards and those living below the poverty line would get atta (wheat flour) at Rs 4 per kg while pulses would be available for Rs 20 a kg. Also free power for the farm sector would continue, said Mr Badal. Mr Badal said every farming family would be given free medical care up to Rs 2 lakhs under an insurance scheme. He did not stop at this. He promised that free power to the Dalits would be doubled from the present 200 units to 400 units per family and there would be a "quantum financial jump" in the shagun and pension schemes.

A galaxy of top leaders, former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Mr Raj Nath Singh and Mr Arun Jaitely, attended the rally. The turnout was much bigger than the one last month at the Congress rally in Ludhiana 20 days ago. They lashed out at the Congress, calling it "anti farmer". An attempt was made to play on the emotions of the audience which was reminded of Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

Shrugging off the recent order of the Supreme Court, Mr Badal told the crowd that he had nothing to fear as the cases were "false" and a result of political vendetta . The BJP President, Mr Raj Nath Singh, said the politics of revenge practiced by Amarinder Singh would ruin democracy.

Former Haryana CM O.P. Chautala, speaking in Punjabi, was acerbic in saying that the "the CM was a maharaja and ruled like a despot." Former Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the Congress men “have pulled themselves out of personal debts but done nothing to bring in the much- promised Bill that was to erase debts of farmers". Former PM Inder Kumar Gujral said the economy needed immediate attention.

Mr Parkash Singh said he would launch a "make your on policy" for trade and industry with separate bodies for large and small industry. VAT would be streamlined and "Inspector Raj" would go. Mr Sukhbir Badal said youth development board with eleven members and a chairman in the rank of ministers would be set-up and focus would be on youth.”Adarsh’ schools would be set up in all blocks and 6 lakh children educated. The state will also go for joint ventures with foreign universities to provide world-class degrees.

All sports clubs in the state would get an annual grant of Rs 51,000 while sports centres would be opened in the Malwa, Majha and Doaba belts.


SAD adheres to populism
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 8
More than Rs 450 crore will be required to fund the promised subsidised foodgrain scheme for Dalits and the poor, besides the health insurance scheme for farmers that the Shiromani Akali Dal announced here today. Former Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, says that " we will make a budgetary provision".

Even though the Captain did not spell it out how the money would come for this scheme, sources within the party said the SAD planned to judiciously use funds provided under central schemes for the poor and Dalits. Atta ( wheat flour) would be provided at Rs 4 per kg, just 25 per cent of the prevailing market price of Rs 16 per kg.

In case of pulses, the SAD has a similar plan plus a matching grant. These require about Rs 250 crore. The tricky question is to fund the health insurance scheme for farmers. There is a development grant under the Rural Development Scheme and the SAD intends to have a matching budgetary allocation to pay the premium for the insurance.


12 Punjabi youths in Sri Lanka jail
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 8
Twelve youths belonging to different villages in Phillaur, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Gurdaspur are allegedly in jail in Sri Lanka after being caught illegally crossing the sea after being allegedly duped by some Phillaur-based travel agents.

Claiming this at a press conference here this afternoon, Mr Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, Working President of the Lok Bhalai Party, said they had taken up the matter with the Indian and Sri Lankan Governments for the release of the youths.

He said the youths were duped by the travel agents on the pretext of sending them to Greece where ready jobs were waiting for them. Each youth gave Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to the travel agents.


Capt eyes Akali citadel
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), December 8
Challenging Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and former Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal in his home turf here today, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has tried to storm the Akali stronghold. It is the first time that somebody has dared to challenge Mr Badal with a political rally a mere few hundred yards from his residence in the village.

Earlier, top Congress leaders would shun campaigning in the Lambi constituency, known as the pocket borough of Mr Badal. Emboldened by the response in the area during his recent Vikas Yatra, Capt Amarinder Singh chose to throw a challenge at Mr Badal, launching a campaign against him from his village. And he chose Mr Badal's birthday for the same, as he knew this would attract media as well as public attention.

On the turnout at the rally, some mediapersons said it was stupendous while others stated it was “impressive”.

What must have gladdened Capt Amarinder Singh was the fact that 90 per cent of the men at the rally were turbaned and most of them Jat Sikhs.

A shrewd Capt Amarinder Singh has been trying to win over the farming community for the past four years. And at today's rally he left no stone unturned to portray himself as the saviour of the farmers in the state. " I had to do a lot for you by bringing new seeds of cotton, new agriculture technology and above all procuring foodgrains without causing you trouble", declared Capt Amarinder Singh.

From the courts, the battle between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Badal has moved to the people's court. From today's rally, Capt Amarinder Singh's political game is clear. He wants to wrest the control of Malwa region from Badal.

Malwa region has 65 Assembly segments. It is easy for a party to win power in the state if it wins a majority of seats in the Malwa region.

Capt Amarinder Singh today branded the SAD leader, his son Sukhbir Singh and their associates as criminals. He named certain senior Akali leaders and called them a ‘gang of criminals and looters”. By using such strong language against the Akali leadership, Mr Amarinder Singh has added a new dimension to Punjab politics. How Mr Sukhbir Singh responds to what was said by Capt Amarinder Singh remains to be seen.


‘Sonia must say sorry’

Senior Akali leader Balwinder Singh Bhunder, while addressing the SAD rally at Moga on Friday, said Mrs Sonia Gandhi should apologise for Operation Bluestar at Akal Takht while BJP president Rajnath Singh in his address blamed the Congress for delaying the hanging of Afzal Guru.

However, senior Akali leader Jagdev Singh Talwandi, speaking in a different tone, advised party chief Parkash Singh Badal to take up the issue of Chandigarh’s transfer to Punjab if voted to power.

BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu described the forthcoming Assembly elections as a battle between a “sewak” and an “arrogant Raja”.

SAD stalwarts took the opportunity to project Sukhbir Singh Badal as a mass leader by repeatedly referring to him as “Punjab da sher.” — TNS


SAD party of fugitives: Bhattal

Deputy CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal termed the BJP as a "party of fugitives". This was in reference to Mr L. K. Advani shifting to India from Pakistan after Partition

As the rally progressed, the crowd kept swelling and people were spotted sitting atop buses parked near the venue.

A glider with a Congress flag that flied past the rally venue attracted the attention of one and all.

Senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar was conspicuous by his absence.

Mr Amarinder Singh extended his hand while inviting Mr Dullo to the dais and had him seated next to him.

Punjabi singer Pammi Bai kept the audiences glued to where they were seated with his popular numbers.

Deputy Chief Minister Bhattal and Cong leader Mahesh Inder Singh Badal wished Mr Parkash Singh Badal a long life on his birthday.

A helicopter flying over the venue spurred comment from the CM: "See 'mundu' (Sukhbir Badal) has come to have an aerial view of our gathering."

The inclusion of leaders like Mr Babu Ram Chawla and Mr Ramesh Singla into the party fold was a victory of sorts for the Chief Minister. He got Mr Dullo’s approval for the same.

— Perneet Singh


Ramoowalia likely to contest
Favours seat adjustment with SAD (A)
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 8
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), is likely to contest Assembly election in Punjab.

To a question here today, Mr Ramoowalia said he would contest the Assembly election in Punjab if asked by his party to do so. He said the “Sanjha front” comprising the CPI, the CPM, and the LBP, had so far taken a decision to contest 44 Assembly of which the LBP would contest 15 seats, the CPI 17 and the CPM 12. He said about the remaining seats a decision would be taken in three to four days at a meeting of the “Sanjha front”.

Mr Ramoowalia also stated though the CPI, the CPM, and the LBP would have their own manifestoes for the elections but they would contest the elections on a common minimum programme (CMP). He said these parties had already approved 17 points to include in the CMP.

Mr Ramoowalia also said barring the Congress, the SAD and the BJP, the “Sanjha front” would make seat adjustments with other political parties. He also said he would suggest to CPI and CPM leaders to have seat adjustments with the SAD (Amritsar) to form a strong front and defeat the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine. He also said the leaders of the front would also hold talks with the leaders of the SAD (Longowal), the SAD (Ravi Inder), the Jan Morcha, and a faction of the BSP.

Mr Ramoowalia said he and his party were of the view democracy in Punjab had been highjacked by capitalist parties, like the Congress, the SAD, and the BJP.


Vikram Bajwa in race for Amritsar LS seat
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 8
Mr Vikram Bajwa, In charge of the Punjab state NRI Cell of the BJP today staked claim for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat. Which felt vacant with the resignation of Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Mr Bajwa told reporters here he would continue the good work of Mr Sidhu for the development of the holy city. He said he would continue to work with zeal to win over hearts of people and fulfil the dreams of Mr Sidhu.

Mr Bajwa, now in India after giving up his citizenship of the USA said he had already forwarded his claim for Indian citizenship and sought blessings of the party high command. He said Mr Rajnath Singh, party president, had asked him to continue to work for the welfare of the people in coordination with leaders here.

He said earlier he was President of Overseas Indian National Congress and resigned its membership and joined the BJP recently. He said parties with cleaner image would emerge stronger with the participation of new generation leaders.

He also announced the launching of an NGO under the aegis of Mr Prabhsharan Singh Kahlon, an NRI.


Cong rally a flop, claims Saifdipur
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
Mr Balwinder Singh Saifdipur, general secretary, SAD, claimed that the massive turnout at the Akali rally at Moga today was a clear indicator that the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government was set to go.

In a press release, Mr Saifdipur said that despite the state government’s best efforts the Congress rally at Badal village turned out to be a flop show. He added that the Akali’s Moga rally was a show of strength by the main opposition party of Punjab for which SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal should take credit.

Mr Saifdipur, who is also the president of the International Bhau Bhaichara, said the Moga rally had proved that people were fed up by the wrong policies of the Amarinder Singh government.


12th Asian Federation of Sports Congress to be held at Amritsar
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
India will, for the first time, host the 12th Asian Federation of Sports Medicine Congress, scheduled for 2009, in Amritsar. The decision was taken at an executive committee meeting of the Asian Federation of Sports Medicine at Royal Conference Palace in Riyadh last month.

The congress would be held during November-December, 2009. Before that, courses on sports psychology, biomechanics and rehabilitation and trauma will be held.

The congress would be preceded by a meeting of the International Federation of Sports Medicine (IFSM) or the Asian Federation of Sports Medicine (AFSM).

Dr Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Dean, Faculty of Sports Medicine, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Dr Mandeep Singh Dhillon, Professor of Orthopaedics, PGIMER, Chandigarh, will be organising and joint organising secretaries, respectively, for the congress. Dr Parag Sancheti, director of Sancheti Group of Hospitals, Pune, will head the Scientific Committee.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Dhillon said over 46 Asian countries would participate in the congress on Sports Medicine, along with resource persons from all over the world.

“This 2009 congress will also host the executive committee meeting of the Asian Federation of Sports along with the election meeting for the 200-2012 executive board.

The number of delegates from Asian countries is likely to be around 200, “ claimed Dr Dhillon.

The Punjab Governor had been made patron of the congress, he informed.

The president of the Indian Association of Sports Medicine (IASM), Dr Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, had represented India at the 9th Asian Federation of Sports Medicine Congress at King Faud Cultural Centre in Riyadh last month.


Seminar on Guru Granth Sahib held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
The SGPC organised a seminar in connection with the tercentenary celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib at the Central State Library here yesterday.

The seminar was inaugurated by SGPC president Avtar Singh and presided over by former Chief Minster and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Badal said Guru Granth Sahib was for the entire world and had a universal appeal and idea of brotherhood. He said its message, “kirt karo, namm japo, vand chhako”, had a universal appeal. He appealed to the people to follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib.

Mr Avtar Singh, SGPC president, also said the masses should follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib.

Earlier, Dr Dalbir Singh, former Professor and Dean of Punjabi University, Patiala, spoke on the theme of the seminar. Sardar Surjit Singh Rakra, MLA from Samana, welcomed the delegates.

Dr I. Sarkar of North Bengal University, Darjeeling, and Dr Mohinder Kaur of Delhi presented papers on the occasion.

The afternoon session of the seminar was presided over by the SGPC president. Prof Kirpal Singh Bandungar was the chief guest.


AG holds pension adalat at Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
Mr Onkar Nath, Accountant General (A and E), Punjab and U.T. Chandigarh, held a pension adalat and pension awareness programme for the pensioners and staff of the pension sanctioning authorities of various state government departments here today.

Mr Onkar Nath was accompanied by a team comprising the Deputy Accountant General, Mr A.S. Khokar, three senior accounts officers, four assistant accounts officers and four dealing officials of his pension wing for an on- the-spot settlement of pending pension cases. He said the pension cases, if received complete in all respects, were disposed of within 15 to 20 days by his office.


Two die as car catches fire
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
Two youths were burnt to death when their car dashed against a tree near Kakrala village on the Patiala-Patran road and caught fire today.

Information gathered by TNS revealed two youths identified as Kulwinder Singh and Rajinder Kumar were going from Amargarh to Kakrala village. Their car dashed against a tree and caught fire near Kakrala village.

Mr William Jeji, SHO, police station, Ghagga, said after they put off the fire, they found two charred bodies in the car.

He said the bodies were handed over to the kin of the deceased after post mortem.


32 judicial officers given postings
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 8
The Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday allotted districts to 32 newly selected judicial officers.

According to orders issued here by the Registrar (General), Mr Nawab Singh, all appointees would function as Civil Judge (Junior Division).

These officers are Ms Rashmi Sharma (Jalandhar), Mr Amit Thind (Ludhiana), Ms Poonam Bansal (Mansa), Ms Vipindeep Kaur (Hoshiarpur), Ms Archana Kamboj (Amritsar), Mr Ashish Abrol (Gurdaspur), Mr Varun Nagpal (Faridkot), Ms Manila Chugh (Jalandhar), Mr Gurpartap Singh (Sangrur), Mr Amandeep Singh Ahluwalia (Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr Mandeep Mittal (Patiala), Mr Mohit Bansal (Bathinda), Ms Nikita Verma (Jalandhar), Ms Shikha Bansal (Sangrur), Mr Kapil Aggarwal (Kapurthala), Ms Tripjot Kaur (Hoshiarpur), Mr Amandeep Singh (Ferozepur), Mr Vikrant (Amritsar), Ms Jasbir Kaur (Ludhiana), Mr Amarinderpal Singh (Faridkot), Ms Pooja Andotra (Ludhiana), Ms Yukti Goel (Amritsar), Ms Deepti Gupta (Ropar), Ms Gurpreet Kaur (Patiala), Mr Bikramjit Singh (Ferozepur), Ms Amita Singh (Ludhiana), Mr Kamal Varinder (Ropar), Ms Pushpa Rani (Kapurthala), Mr Ajitpal Singh (Ferozepur), Mr Rajesh Bhagat (Ferozepur), Mr Vishesh (Faridkot) and Mr Pritpal Singh (Gurdaspur).


8 of 3 families booked for torturing women
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 8
The police yesterday booked eight members of three different families under the Protection Of Woman Domestic Violence Act -2005. It is the first case of its type since the Act had been implemented last year.

The police said here today that cases had been registered at Sarhali and Patti.

The case at Sarhali has been registered on the complaint of Ms Kawaljit Kaur. She alleged that she had been torturing by her husband Manjitpal Singh and her father-in-law Paira Singh since her marriage one-and-a-half year ago.

In the second case, Sawinder Singh, his father Darshan Singh and his mother Manjit Kaur of Bahmaniwala village have been booked. This case was registered on the complaint of Ms. Harjit Pal Kaur, wife of Sawinder Singh, who alleged harassment by the accused for dowry.

In the third case registered at the Patti police station, three persons, including two women, Jugraj Singh, Daljit Kaur alias Jeet Kaur and Harmeet Kaur of Fatehbad village have been booked. The case has been registered on the complaint of Ms Rajdavinder Kaur of Chuslewar near Patti, who was married to Jugraj Singh about two years back.

She alleged that her husband and other members of her in-law family had been harassing and torturing her for dowry since her marriage for the past more than two years.


Deemed varsity status for SLIET soon
Tribune News Service

Longowal, December 8
The local Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) will be accorded deemed-university status soon by the Government of India with autonomous governance.

Stating this in her presidential address at the ninth annual convocation of SLIET here today, Dr (Mrs) S.K. Pandey, Director, SLIET, Longowal, said the institute had successfully executed the experiment in the new paradigms of the technical education system. She said one of the main objectives of the institute was to cater to the needs of modern industry by producing skilled workers, technicians and engineers.

In his convocation address, Dr S.C. Saxena, Director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, advised the students that besides gaining great success in the professional career they should also be good human beings. He said: "A truly successful person is one who climbs the ladder in his or her service or business career with outstanding human qualities". He also asked the students to show concern and commitment, particularly towards the poor and needy. “Life is a journey and not a destination while education in an institution prepared them to take this journey with least hurdles and obstacles,” he added.

Dr Saroj Rangnekar, Dean (HRD), Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal, who was guest of honour, said the world was full of new challenges and exciting possibilities. “Students must equip themselves to face the challenges and to make the most of the possibilities,” she said.

Later, Dr (Mrs) S.K. Pandey, Director, SLIET, on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, awarded bachelor’s degrees, diplomas and certificates in various engineering disciplines to 823 students. As many as 307 students were awarded bachelor’s degrees, 310 got diplomas and 206 were awarded certificates.

Dr S.C. Saxena, Director, IIT, Roorkee, presented medals and certificates to the meritorious students of various diploma courses while Dr Saroj Rangnekar, Dean (HRD), Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal, presented medals and certificates to the meritorious students of various certificate courses.

Dr Anand Vaj, Dean, Academic, SLIET, proposed a vote of thanks.


Varsity chair to be named after Parshuram
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 8
The Punjab Planning Board Deputy Chairman, Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, said today that a chair in the Punjabi University, Patiala, would be named after Bhagwan Parshuram soon.

He was addressing members of the Punjab Brahman Maha Samelan here.

He said the proposal to declare holiday on Parshuram Jayanti had also been cleared by the Chief Minister.


Rice shellers threaten stir

Rajpura, December 8
The Rice Shellers Association today threatened to launch an indefinite agitation if its demands were not met.

Addressing a state-level meeting here today, the association president, Mr Tarsem Saini, said the rice shellers would extend support to only those candidates in the Punjab Assembly elections who would pressurised the central and the state governments to accept their demands. — TNS


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