L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Cong keeps ticket aspirants guessing
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
As the Congress list gets delayed, speculation is gaining momentum about who the party’s choice will be from different constituencies and who among the sitting MLAs will be shown the door.

All aspirants see their chances as brightest among those shortlisted. So do their supporters, believing everything they wish will come true.

Particularly for the five urban and semi-urban seats of Ludhiana, guessing game is at its peak.

While it is presumed that Rakesh Pandey from Ludhiana North, Surinder Dawer from Ludhiana East and Milkiat Singh Dakha from Dakha may be retained as party candidates, doubts are being cast on the fate of Harnam Dass Johar from Ludhiana West and Milkiat Singh Birmi from Ludhiana Rural.

Supporters of sitting candidates began celebrations after the Congress, in principle, hinted at retaining all sitting candidates.

However, only the next day another rumour hit, suggesting that some sitting legislators, including ministers, may be dropped. Thus giving hope to the supporters of freshers.

The Ludhiana West aspirants have started claiming that Mr Johar will be dropped since Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is likely to have a decisive say in choosing the candidates, is believed to be unhappy with him.

Similar arguments are given against Mr Birmi, as his relationship with Punjab Pardesh Congress president Shamsher Singh Dullo has been much talked about.

Some people are also raising doubts over Mr Dawer and Mr Pandey’s claim on the East and North constituencies, respectively.

Although Mr Pandey does not face any formidable competitor, there are many potential claimants for the Ludhiana East, thus giving sleepless nights to the sitting legislators.

It is interesting to note that while the SAD-BJP candidates have already started their campaign (the SAD about to start second round), Congress candidates are not even sure of their nomination.

“We are still into the qualifying rounds and nobody is sure who will qualify,” remarked a sitting legislator, while admitting that their rivals have taken a lead, at least in campaigning.

For the time being, the city has turned into a saffron fortress with flags of the SAD and the BJP dotting the skyline. There are a few exceptions, however, like hotel Majestic Park Plaza, which is sporting Congress flags.

Khanguras, the owners of the hotel, are confident about party nomination from Kila Raipur, hence have raised the flags and banners in the city.

Otherwise, the city is draped in SAD-BJP colour owing to the absence of Congress rank and file, which is camping in Delhi for the party’s verdict on seats.



Keen contest for Cong ticket
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 15
With a majority of Congress leaders camping in New Delhi, political activities have slowed down in this Malwa belt.
The party high command in Delhi seems to be in confusion over selection of candidates from various constituencies, including Payal, Ludhiana Rural, Kila Raipur and Malerkotla.

Situation is more piquant in Payal, bastion of former CM Beant Singh. Though the segment has since been known as the stronghold of the Congress, factionalism among loyalists of Beant Singh has created problems for the party.

Besides the common belief that kin of Beant Singh be given precedence over other candidates, uncertainty has been clouding the allotment.

The fact that Beant’s son Tejparkash Singh Kotli (Jalandhar Cantonment), Beant’s daughter Gurkanwal Kaur (Jalandhar and Samrala) and his grandson Gurkirat Singh Kotli (Payal and Dhuri) have sought ticket from more than two constituencies across the state has further complicated the matter and people have started guessing that the Payal seat may go to two other contenders.

Bharpur Singh Jalha, who pocketed over 8,000 votes as Independent candidate after being refused ticket by the SAD during 1977 election, is now know for his proximity to Capt Amarinder Singh.

Beant Singh loyalist Amrik Singh Rauni, a Zila Parishad member and senior Congress leader, has launched his campaign for a berth after feeling ignored by Kotli leaders.

Gurdev Singh Lapran, who had contested election on party ticket from Kila Raipur during terrorism, is a strong contender for Ludhiana Rural seat.

Having led the party organisation in Kila Raipur and surrounding segments, Lapran enjoys support of Jats of his area.

Dr Manjit Kaur, daughter of Giani Zail Singh, on the other hand has an edge among urban and elite class.

In case the party high command plans to play “woman candidate card”, Jaswinder Kaur Tikka may catch their attention as she has exhibited courage by resigning from the post of Deputy Advocate General before applying for the ticket.

In Malerkotla too, where the picture is usually clear, the leadership has not yet nodded in affirmation on the name of Razia Sultana, the sitting legislator.



INTUC demands 15 pc share in party ticket

Ludhiana, January 15
The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the labour wing of the Congress party, has demanded a 15 per cent share in the party tickets for the coming Assembly elections in Punjab.

Going a step further, senior functionaries of the outfit served a veiled threat to the party leadership of forging a 'United Mazdoor Front' with the support of other trade unions and fielding labour activists against the official party candidates.

In a memorandum submitted to the All India Congress Committee President Ms Sonia Gandhi, vice-president of Punjab INTUC Sunder Lal Mehta pointed out that the workforce in the state comprised nearly 25 per cent of the total electorate, but this vital segment had been persistently denied its due representation in the power structure. “The Congress government and its key functionaries, including ministers have always ignored the interests of the working classes," he lamented.

The INTUC has charged the Congress in Punjab, particularly Labour Minister Choudhry Jagjit Singh and all sitting party legislators with closing their eyes to the burning problems of the workers and toiling masses. "The workers have been denied basic facilities and constitutional rights like possession of ration cards, inclusion in voter lists, minimum wages, security of service, bonus, gratuity, provident fund and right to trade union rights.

According to Mr Mehta and Mr Harish Kapoor, organising secretary of the INTUC, the state government had failed to fulfill its promise of granting pension to civic employees, who had retired before 1990. Further, no relief was given to the urban poor in water and sewerage rates, house tax, electricity bills and in the absence of fresh recruitment in all government departments, the unemployment had assumed alarming proportions.

The INTUC leaders indicated that depending upon the response of senior party leaders to the demand raised for due share in party tickets for the Assembly elections, they would take up the matter with other major trade unions. — OC



Assembly Poll
Talk future to get support, say industry representatives
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
It will not be past performance but future promises that will decide industry’s political inclinations in the forthcoming Assembly elections. Industry representatives say they will rather look ahead than continue to mull over unfulfilled promises.

“Industrial growth in Punjab is hovering around 4 per cent in comparison to national average of over 10 per cent, which necessitates the need to look ahead. Instead of debating over the past performance and using it as the basis of our judgement while deciding the candidate, we want to support that candidate who comes out with concrete action plans for the future. Past matters, but future holds the key,” opines P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Recently, various associations, irked at government’s indifference to their demands, went ahead and announced their intention of forming a party. The plan, however, died down owing to varied interests and on account of the fact that most industrialists have their own political lineages.

“No doubt the industry is unhappy but the announcement of floating its own party cannot be termed as a wise move. Its failure is expected given that most industrialists have their loyalties towards the existing parties,” a leading industrialist commented while refusing to be quoted.

Even as issues that the industry has been raising for quite some time remain more or less same like VAT-related problems, power shortage, etc. the industry is keen on knowing what each party has in store for it and the methods they will adopt to redress their problems.

“Loyalties may not change much, but we are quite firm and want candidates to reveal the way they will handle industry’s problems in future. If Punjab’s industry is to progress, the need is to formulate plans in a professional manner, in consultation with the industry,” says Varinder Kapoor of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

Various sections in the industry assert that political parties should promise that they will give representation to the industry if they come to power. “The Congress recently assured us that it would give representation to the industry in decision making if it came to power. We want other parties to promise the same.”

Parties too are trying to woo the industry. A mock parliament session, to be organised by the industry on Wednesday, is likely to involve participation of leaders like Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mahesh Inder Singh Garewal, Avinash Rai Khanna, Parkash Singh Badal and several others.



Elevated road railing at last
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Waking up from its slumber following a number of burglary incidents at shops near the elevated road, the Municipal Corporation has started erecting railing on the either sides of the road amidst allegations that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had inaugurated incomplete project worth Rs 51 crore.

The elevated road was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on October 26 amid much fanfare. But certain works still remained pending, including that on iron railing on the either side. In spite of this, the local civic body opened the road for traffic.

Yesterday, a city youth died after his motor cycle skidded off the elevated road. He fell on the road below, near Kapoor hospital, as there was no fence. This led to the youth’s death on the spot.

The incident could have been avoided had there been a protective fencing.

One of the road contractors Rajesh Rai said they started the work on erecting the railing last Thursday and it was expected to take another 20 days to finish.

He added that his firm was working in association with main contractor M/s Skanksa Constructions.

While major work on the road was completed by the latter, the company belonging to Mr Rai was assigned “small jobs” like erecting the railing.

Yesterday’s mishap, caused due to the absence of railing, left many fuming. Residents questioned the very logic of the MC to open the road to traffic when some of the work on it was still incomplete.

“Did the officials tell the Chief Minister that the road was incomplete?

They just wanted that the project, which had been hanging fire for the past five years, was inaugurated ahead of the Assembly elections so that it could be used as poll plank,” said Parvin Bansal, leader of Opposition in MC House.

He added that the road had not proved to be of much help to city residents. Instead, it had started posing threat to the shops near the road as also lives.

“We want the responsibility of youth’s death fixed. An inquiry should be ordered and those responsible be booked for negligence that led to the death of the youth,” added Mr Bansal.

He said the contractor was just putting an eight-inch railing, which was of no use. “Burglars can scale this, as they have been doing in the past when some shops were broken into by them after they jumped over the elevated road,” he added.



Judicial remand for travel agent
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 15
Satnam Singh, a travel agent from Dagam presently living at Talwandi Rai, has been remanded to 14 days Judicial custody today by Jagraon Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Jitender Walia. As per the information, Satnam Singh and Surjit Kaur had agreed to send Harmeet Singh and Inder Mohan Singh of Kakar Tihara aboard.

The duo had made it public that Amandeep Kaur, daughter of Surjit Kaur, was residing at Italy and was coming back along with her friend and the two would perform paper marriages with two persons from India to take them to Italy.

They would also make arrangements for their permanent settlement there. Allured by this, a deal was struck for Rs 7,50,000 each with Harmeet Singh and Inder Mohan Singh out of which the two paid Rs 4,00,000 and Rs 5,35,000, respectively, to Surjit Kaur and Satnam Singh. Before the payment was made, Surjit Kaur made Harmeet Singh talk to her daughter on phone, who advised him to pay the amount to her mother and Satnam Singh.

The victims arranged the amount by selling their land. But, when they contacted Amandeep on her visit to India and asked her to comply with the deal, she refused on the pretext that her mother had already collected the amount from a third person for the similar purpose. Few days later, she left for Italy. Satnam Singh and Surjit Kaur did not return the money inspite of the calls made by the victims.

After holding preliminary inquiry, SSP, Jagraon, ordered for the registration of a case following which the Raikot police registered a case under Section 420 of the IPC and arrested Satnam Singh whereas the mother and the daughter are still absconding. 



PAU adds to varieties of flowers, fruits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Six new varieties of Chrysanthemum - Anmol, Royal Purple, Yellow Delight, Garden Beauty, Winter Queen, Autumn Joy - two of vegetables - Punjab Nagina (Brinjal), Punjab 89 (Peas) - and two of fruits - Punjab Soft (pear) and Punjab Purple (grapes) - developed by Punjab Agricultural University have been released for the general cultivation in the state.

According to the PAU Director of Extension Education, Dr N.S. Malhi, the new varieties have been approved by the State Variety Approval Committee at its meeting held recently. These varieties were recommended by the Research Evaluation Committee of the university last December.

Anmol variety of Chrysanthemum has bright yellow anemone type of flowers and is suitable for growing in pots. Royal Purple variety has purplish pink anemone type of flowers and this, too, is suitable for growing in pots. Yellow Delight is an early flowering variety with bright yellow pompon type of flowers and is suitable as cut flower. Garden Beauty, having maroon spoon type flowers, is suitable as garden plant. Winter Queen has pink spoon type of flowers and like Garden Beauty this, too, is suitable for growing in gardens. Autumn Joy is an early flowering variety with pink flowers.

Fruits of Punjab Nagina are shining, purple-black and round. It is an early variety and gives first picking in 54 days.

Fruits of Punjab Soft are very soft and juicy. They mature in the first week of July and yield is 86 kg per tree.

Punjab Purple grapes are rich in anthocyanin, a source of antioxidant, and are suitable for processing into juice, nectar and ready-to-serve beverages. The berry is seeded, medium in size and purple at maturity.



Couple gets life term for murder
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 15
The Sessions Judge, Mr Harbans Lal, has sentenced Ram Singh and his wife Surinderpal Kaur of Ghudani village to life imprisonment on the charges of killing their relative, Amarjit Singh, by administering some poisonous substance to him.

The duo has also been ordered to pay Rs 5000 each as fine. However, the court acquitted the co-accused, Ms Amarjit Kaur(mother of accused Surinderpal Kaur), with the observation that there was no motive of her to indulge in the crime.

The accused were booked under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC at the Payal police station on July 2, 2004, following the complaint of Gurmit Singh of Ghudani village. It was submitted by the complainant that the deceased was his uncle. Earlier, he used to reside with him and was also cultivating land jointly.

As per the prosecution, Amarjit Singh, who was a bachelor, had executed a will in favour of wife of Ram Singh on November 27, 2003. In order to grab the property at the earliest, he was done to death by the accused.

The accused had pleaded ignorance of executing any will by Amarjit Singh in favour of Surinderpal Kaur. But the registered will was produced by the prosecution on record.

Mr Amar Ashok Pathak, District Attorney, said that in the viscera report of the deceased, a posionous pesticide was found. Nine witnesses were examined by the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused.



Pervez must keep his word, say ex-servicemen
Release of 54 Indian PoWs from Pak jails
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Ex-servicemen have appealed to the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharaf, to fulfill his “soldierly commitment” to the Government of India and release 54 prisoners of war languishing in various prisons of his country since 1971.

Addressing a press conference here today, Col H.S. Kahlon (retd), Col A.D. Singh (retd), Maj H.P.S. Bhinder (retd), Maj I.S. Sandhu (retd) and Col Amarjit Singh pointed out that General Musharaf had insisted on his upright “soldierly character” by meaning what he said.

They thanked Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AICC’s Ex-service League chairman K.P. Singh Deo and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for conveying to the Pakistan President the sentiments of the families of these 54 PoWs.

The ex-servicemen observed that General Musharaf, if he sincerely wanted, could get these PoWs released.

Being the President, a General and man of commitment, Gen Musharaf could get these soldiers out of the jails. They said he could seek records from prisons across his country and identify the 1971 PoWs and get them released.

Their stay in Pakistan jails after 35 years of war would hardly serve any purpose, the ex-servicemen pointed out.



Residents sustain injuries due to kite flying
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Kite flying has caused injuries to many city residents in the past three days.
A number of residents have reported at various hospitals with severe injuries on their neck, fingers and face. Doctors said many of them could have lost their vocal chords, as the sharp string cut deeply through the neck.

Mr Navjot Singh, a resident of Phallewal, said on Lohri, he was coming on the elevated road on his motorbike when a kite with strings attached got entangled in his neck and left a painful cut on the skin.

“When I was trying to remove the string from my neck, my thumb and a finger also got injured. It started bleeding and I rushed to hospital. Had I not been wearing a helmet, I would have sustained injuries on my face or even on my eyes,” he said.

Mr Parminder Singh, another resident, said he had also got injuries on his cheek and fingers when he got entangled in a kite string.

Another resident, Satwinder Singh, received injuries on his nose when he was passing through the Damoria bridge and was caught up by a flying kite.

‘‘It will take days for me to recover from the injury. I think if it catches a scooterist unawares, it can even sever the wind pipe of the victim.” he said.



Website for newspersons launched
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
IndiaTotal Infoline has launched a unique service to disseminate information to newspersons, public relations agencies, online news portals, wire agencies and all those connected with these industries.

The front end of the service, which can be accessed through its website, disseminates news instantaneously to more than 6,000 journalists throughout India, across print, electronic and Internet media, a company spokesperson said at a press conference here today.

“A news release once uploaded on the site remains there forever. The releases are picked up by around 200 news websites globally, and are invariably crawled by major search engines, including Google and Yahoo.”

The spokesperson said the service would enable companies to send their press releases in real time to the media, investment communities and other stakeholders.

The service is already available in English, Hindi and Punjabi and the company plans to introduce it in seven other Indian languages, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali by the end of next month.

Mr Armaan Sharma, technical head of the company, said "Our objective let companies worldwide use our platform to disseminate their news to regulatory services, financial information systems, conventional and Internet-based news platforms, enabling them to reach the vibrant Indian markets.”



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