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Finally, CM kickstarts campaign
Harps on development; Sonia, PM to canvass
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 19
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, finally kickstarted his campaign today by holding a series of meetings with party workers and others, including members of the district Bar where he sought votes in the name of economic development initiated by the Congress government in the past five years.

The Chief Minister, who met the party rank and file, said the party's manifesto would be released shortly, adding that the development carried out during the past five years coupled with support of the people would enable the Congress to form the government again.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who would file his nomination papers tomorrow, told mediapersons that the party's manifesto would be released shortly and it would be in three parts, covering all the aspects. He added that the party would organise about 60 rallies, 12 of which would be addressed by the party president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and Mr Rahul Gandhi. He said he would campaign for the party candidates throughout the state.

Claiming that the early campaign launched by the SAD would not make any impact, he said in the previous Assembly elections, the Congress managed to form its government with a comfortable majority and this would be repeated this time.

He hoped that Congressmen, including the sitting MLA from Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who were disappointed over denial of the ticket, would support the official nominees to facilitate the party to form its government again.

He appealed to Congressmen to end differences and work hard to bring the party back into power.

The Chief Minister said the SAD leadership was misleading people by raising the issue of corruption during the Congress rule whereas in realty during the SAD-BJP combine government in the state, corruption was at an all-time high and when the Congress came to power, it made serious efforts to check it.

He said some Akali ministers had to face criminal cases for their involvement in corruption during the SAD-BJP rule.

Asked who would be the Chief Minister if the Congress came back to power, he said it was a tradition in the party that it was always decided after the election results were out.

To another question, he said the Congress did not form an alliance with the Left as it had a bitter experience in the past.

 

SAD to ask EC to look into ticket ‘sale’ by Cong

Chandigarh, January 19
Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal said here today that charges about the ‘sale’ of Congress tickets under the influence of the land and liquor mafia had vindicated the SAD stance that Chief Minster Capt Amarinder Singh had led the most corrupt government in the history of Independent India.

He said the SAD would apprise the Election Commission about the charges. In a statement here, the SAD member of Parliament said:“ The EC would be requested to invoke the relevant provisions of the People’s Representation Act."

"Confirmation of corruption charges levelled by us has come from persons holding senior positions in the Congress and the Amarinder government.”

Mr Badal asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo to respond to the allegations levelled by her own partymen on the corrupt manner in which that party was being run.” — TNS

 

22 more file nominations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
As many as 22 candidates today filed their nominations for the coming Punjab Assembly elections. With this, the total number of candidates who have filed their nomination in the first two days has gone up to 28.

According to information provided by the office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidates today filed nominations for four constituencies, while four BSP nominees too filed their papers.

Among those who filed nominations today include Mr Gurbachan Singh, Gurdaspur, Mr Manjinder Singh (Beas), Mr Rashpinder Singh (Beas), Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar (Muktsar), Mr Gurraj Singh (Muktsar) and Mr Balwinder Singh (Sardulgarh), all belong to the SAD (B).

The other candidates who filed their papers are Mr Jagteshwar Singh (Majitha), Mr Balwinder Singh (Majitha), Mr Simarjit Singh (Majitha), Mr Harinder Singh (Ajnala), Mr Santokh Singh (Phagwara), Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri (Mahalpur), Mr Daljit Singh (Mahalpur), Mr Gurdial Singh (Nangal), Mr Rajinder Singh (Morinda), Mr Ram Isher Singh (Dakala), Mr Paramjit Singh (Shutrana), Mr A.S. Cheema (Sirhind), Mr Naranjan Singh (Lehra), Ms Mukhtiar Kaur (Lehra), Mr Buta Singh (Jalalabad) and Mr Bhupinder Singh (Bathinda).

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has placed under suspension a government official, Mr Harjit Singh, for showing laxity in his job as enumerator for the Ludhiana (North) constituency. He was responsible for the faux pas that resulted in over 35 voters being left out of the voters’ list for the constituency.

While ordering the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the BLO for not informing the EC about the faux pas, the EC also sought the explanation of the ERO of the constituency.

 

Removal of SGPC secy sought
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 19
Mr Harcharan Singh Burj Hari, a Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member, has served a notice on its president Avtar Singh and sought the dismissal of SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh and recover the salary drawn by him along with interest.

Releasing a copy of the notice to the media here today, the complainant said the SGPC should file a criminal case against the secretary for submitting a false certificate and said the president would also be liable for not initiating action against him. The copies of the notice had been also sent to all members of the SGPC executive as confirmed by executive member Harbans Singh Kandala.

Mr Burj Hari threatened to get a criminal case registered if the committee failed to initiate action against Mr Harbeant Singh within 10 days of the dispatch of the notice. He said he had already verified from the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan (HSS), Prayag, that the original recipient of the certificate was Mr Victoria Abyassi while the certificate submitted by Harbeant Singh was a fake one.

Mr Burj Hari said earlier also the secretary had submitted another certificate of Prathma from the HSS, Prayag, which was not considered by the executive committee of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) as it was not equivalent to matriculation.

He said the secretary was dismissed from service on January 19, 2004, and a fine of Rs 25,000 was imposed on him. He added that even his appeal was dismissed by the executive committee in March 2004 and alleged that he was unauthorisedly reinstated by the then senior vice-president Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke without going into the merits of the case. He also mentioned that the five members of the executive committee had given a dissenting note against the resolution and still Mr Harbeant Singh was continuing as secretary.

Mr Harbeant Singh was not available for comments.

 

Valmikis, cops clash over ‘desecration’
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 19
Over 300 persons belonging to the Valmiki community gheraoed the Nakodar police station and broke the gate and vases lying there tonight.

They were protesting against the alleged “desecration” by the police of Nishan Sahib installed on Behram panchayat land adjacent to a Valmiki Ashram at Rahimpur village.

The representatives of the community have demanded action against the SP (City I), Mr Satinder Singh, and the DSP, Nakodar, Mr Daljinder Singh Dhillon, for the alleged desecration.

The protesters forcibly entered the police station and broke the gate, vases and other things lying there. They also set on fire tyres on the road in front of the police station.

The gherao reportedly continued till 10.45 pm when police officials and representatives of the community reached a temporary compromise.

The situation became tense when a police team, led by the SP (City I) went to the panchayat land where Valmikis had installed a Nishan Sahib and started Ramayan path, the bhog of which was scheduled to be held on Sunday.

The police officials persuaded them to hold the bhog today itself. While the discussion between the police officials and the representatives of Valmikis was on, some policemen reportedly removed the Nishan Sahib.

Agitated over this, members of the Valmiki community hurled stones at policemen, who retaliated by cane charging them. Subsequently, the protesters went to the Nakodar police station and gheraoed it.

While the SSP, Mr Naunihal Singh, could not be contacted, the SP (Operations), Mr Shammi Kumar, said the police team had gone there to remove the encroachment done by some members of the Valmiki community. He denied that Nishan Sahib had been desecrated by the police.

 

Tom-Tom
IT success: Big talk, little outcome
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Information Technology (IT) remained Punjab Government’s buzzword in the past five years and is being projected as one of the major achievements of the Capt Amarinder Singh government. But it seems Punjab surpassed neighbouring states in rhetoric alone whereas actual performance as compared to Chandigarh remained low.

Punjab bent backwards to invite Quark to Mohali, justifying the extraordinary exemptions given to the company . The company opened Quark Media House, a software development company, and in the process also got approval for an Industrial Park- Quark City- on 45 acres in Mohali.

The IT euphoria reached its peak in no time with Dell opening its customer services centre in Quark City. Since Dell, Quark City is yet to bring in more companies and live up to the big promises it made to the government in terms of investment or generation of employment.

IT giants Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services also showed interest in Punjab and asked for land to set up base. The government would have willingly obliged them had there been any land available. The land earmarked for Wipro could not be transferred as the original land allottees went in for litigation. Wipro has now moved to Chandigarh.

Punjab had to say ‘no’ to another big player Satyam which had asked for 200 acres though some renowned companies like Second Foundation and Inde Sigma did open their units in Mohali .

However, due to the presence of larger companies in Punjab, the quantum of software exports from Punjab was almost five times than that of Chandigarh. But this figure is set to change. Infosys, responsible for the largest quantum of software exports from Mohali, has decided to shift its unit to the city’s IT park.

Local entrepreneurs who benefited from the boom and made it big in a short span were the real success stories in the IT sector in Punjab. IDS opened five call centers in Chandigarh and Mohali and were the fourth largest software exporter from the region this year among the SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

Most, however, complained that the government instead of encouraging small and medium enterprises remained busy attracting big names. Their contention that the big players in the end employed only a handful of local youths is true to some extent.

 

Cong riddled with dissent
Revolt against Tej Parkash

Chandigarh, January 19
A senior Congress leader, Mr Amrik Singh Rauni, has raised the banner of revolt against Mr Tej Parkash Singh, a son of late Beant Singh. Mr Tej Parkash Singh is the Congress nominee from the Payal constituency.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone from native village, Mr Rauni, said he faxed his resignation from the primary membership of the Congress today to Mr Dullo. "After holding a meeting with my supporters today, I decided to resign from the Congress and contest the elections as an independent", he added.

"I have been pushed aside from the party by Mr Gurkirat Singh, son of Mr Tej Parkash Singh", he added.

 

31 sarpanches back Channi

Ropar, January19
The ticket to Mr Manmohan Singh came as a surprise to all. He is said to be choice of both PPCC president Shamsher Singh and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

The others in the race for the ticket were former MLAs Bhag Singh and Shamsher Singh Rai, Kharar Municipal Council chief Charanjit Singh Channi and Mr Surinder Singh.

Sarpanches of 31 villages gathered at the residence of Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, asking him to contest as an Independent.

Sitting MLA Ramesh Dutt Sharma had been facing stiff competition from the different leaders of the district, including former district Congress president Amarjit Singh Saini, former youth president Bhupesh Sharma and member of the AICC Ramesh Goyal.

Supporter of former president of district Amarjeet Singh Saini gathered at his residence demanding that he should contest against Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma from Anandpur Sahib.

A report from Barnala said Mr Harinder Singh Seera Dhillon, former vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress, has decided to contest against the Congress nominee from the Barnala seat, Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, a confidant of Chief Minister.

 

Jakhar on warpath

Fazilka, January 19
Mr Jaspinder Singh Jakhar, general secretary of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee, who had sought the party ticket from the Fazilka Assembly constituency, has revolted following denial of the ticket.

He has announced to contest as an Independent. Addressing a gathering of workers, Mr Jakhar said he had decided to contest against the sitting MLA, Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, renominated as the party candidate. He said he would file his nomination on January 23.

Mr Jakhar, son-in-law of veteran Congress leader and former MP Umrao Singh of Jalandhar, said he had been promised the party ticket by the high command from Fazilka. — Tribune Reporters

 

Cong candidate promises development
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 19
Congress candidate from Ghanaur constituency, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, today intensified his election campaign by opening election offices at Bahadurgarh and Shambu.

Addressing a series of rallies, Mr Randhawa alleged that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, had been ignoring the constituency for the past five years. He added that the Akali candidate's only qualification seemed to be his proximity to SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Claiming that a large number of development works had been initiated during the past five years, Mr Randhawa, who is the Minister of Cooperation in the Amarinder Singh government, urged the electorate to vote in favour of the Congress to continue the development projects that are in being done.

Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion included, Mr Tarsem Chand Bansal, president of the Patiala District Congress Committee; Mr Jasbir Singh, former Punjab minister; Mr Sharanjit Singh Jogipur, Mr Baldev Singh Safdipur and Mr Harjit Atwal.

 

One against the other in Cong
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 19
Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister, today revolted against Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, president of the Mohali district unit of the Congress, who has been given the party ticket to contest the Punjab Assembly elections from the Kharar constituency.

Mrs Garcha, who was also a strong aspirant for the Congress ticket from Kharar, revolted after a meeting with her supporters, sarpanches from various villages, block samiti members and municipal councillors from the town as well as from Kharar. She said she will not support Mr Sidhu at any cost as she had a personal grievance against him.

She said that when Mr Sidhu had come to attend the bhog ceremony in connection with the death of her son some years ago he had stated, in the presence of many leaders, that she was trying to politically “cash” the death of her son. She said she will make efforts in helping the Congress win the other 116 seats but will not spare Mr Sidhu for hurting her in her grief. She said she will talk about this incident while addressing voters, especially women.

Mrs Garcha said when she was denied the party ticket she took the blow decently and appealed for sitting MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, to get it.

Among those who met Mrs Garcha were Mr Avtar Singh Dairi, member Zila Parishad; Mrs Kulwant Kaur, Chairman, Block Samiti; Mr Kuljit Singh Bedi, Mr Sukhminder Singh Barnala, Mr Bharat Bhushan Maini, Mr Harmanpreet Singh Prince, all local municipal councillors, Mrs Gurdeep Kaur, Mr Ram Rattan, Mr Jai Bhagwan Singla and municipal councillors from Kharar.

 

Atwal campaigns on foot

Phillaur, January 19
Local Congress MLA Gurbinder Singh Atwal visited his constituency on foot after the announcement of his candidature from the constituency. Mr Atwal took blessings from old women of the area, who were waiting for him outside the Sant Sadhu Ram temple. Then, he, along with the members of his family and supporters, visited the Bhoot Nath temple. — OC

 

BJP names six more
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
The Bharatiya Janata Party tonight announced six more candidates for the Assembly elections in the state. With this, the party has announced candidates for 21 seats. Candidates for two other constituencies are still to be named.

The tickets were announced after a meeting of the parliamentary board of the party in New Delhi.

The candidates named today are: Mr Arunesh Thakur (Mukerian); Mr Chunni Lal Bhagat (Jalandhar South); Mr Madan Mohan Mittal (Nangal); Dr Ram Kumar (Abohar); Ms Luxmi Kanta Chawla (Amritsar Central); and Mr Rajinder Singh Chhina (Amritsar West).

Except Mr Chhina, all others had contested in 2002 and lost.

A decision on the candidate for the Amritsar parliamentary seat had been deferred till January 22. The candidates for the remaining two seats - Hoshiarpur and Amritsar North - would also be announced then, party officials said tonight.

The parliamentary board authorised the BJP chief, Mr Rajnath Singh, to take a decision regarding the candidate for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat. Everything hinges on the outcome of Navjot Singh Sidhu’s case in the Supreme Court.

Surprisingly, three party heavyweights - Mr Harjit Grewal, Mr Vijay Sampla and Mr Rajinder Bhandari - have not been allocated tickets.

In Hoshiarpur, the sitting MLA, Mr Tikshan Sud, and Mr Shyam Sunder Arora are the contenders, while in Amritsar North, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla and Mr Anil Joshi are vying for the ticket.

 

Chhina, Chawla get tickets

Amritsar, January 19
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today fielded a Sikh candidate, Mr Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina, secretary, governing body of Khalsa College, who had recently joined the party, from the Amritsar West constituency. Mr Chhina is a prominent Sikh of the city heading a number of social and cultural organisations.

After Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, who had won the Parliamentary election against Congress stalwart R.L.Bhatia (Now Governor of Kerala) , Mr Chhina is the third Sikh candidate who will be contesting on the BJP ticket from here.

The party has also cleared the name of its state vice-president , Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla , for the Central constituency while the nominations for the Amritsar North constituency.

— Varinder Walia

 

BJSP candidate claims support of Cong, BSP leader
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 19
Mr Anil Kumar, who is contesting the Punjab Assembly elections as a candidate of the Bhartiya Jan Shakti Party (BJSP), claimed here today that a Congress leader and her supporters had joined his party.

In a press note released here, Mr Anil Kumar claimed that Ms Sunita Rani, president of the Congress Mahila Morcha, who had been working for the Congress for the past 20 years, had joined the BJSP. He said that she had also assured that her supporters would give him support during the elections.

He added that Mr Amar Singh, president of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), had also joined the BJSP. He had worked for the BSP for the past 15 years.

He said that both the SAD and the Congress did not give senior workers their due place and were shunting them out. New faces were being encouraged by them.

 

Two more file papers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 19
Two more candidates filed their nominations for the Punjab Assembly elections, here today.

Paramjit Kainth of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) filed his nomination at Patran for the Shutrana segment while Ram Isher Singh filed his papers as an independent candidate from Dakala.

 

Terror attack apprehended
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
The Special Protection Group (SPG), which has the task of protecting under-threat VIPs, including many senior politicians, today told the Election Commission officers as well as senior Punjab Government officers involved in the process of holding of coming Vidhan Sabha elections that there are too many VIPs who needed SPG cover in Punjab.

Apprehending an attack, similar to what was attempted by the Naxals on the life of the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu in the last Assembly election in that state, a senior SPG officer told officers here that message should be sent out to the persons to heed to the words of their security staff.

The officer was participating in a meeting of all zonal IGs, range DIGs, and district SSPs of Punjab to review the preparations for the coming elections.

 

Price rise, jobs main issues
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Spiralling prices of essential commodities, poor education and health services, corruption in government offices, police excesses, unemployment and rural indebtedness are among the issues that the ruling Congress will have to face in the run up to Assembly elections in Punjab.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will focus on revival of agricultural economy, mega projects, investment, abrogation of the river waters agreement, drive against corruption at the political level and relaxation in norms for visits to Sikh historic and religious places in Pakistan.

He is expected to tom tom the abrogation of the river waters agreement and put the SAD leadership on the mat. Perhaps, for the first time the Assembly elections in the state will not be dominated by such issues as transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab, more power to the state and Centre-state relations, etc.

The Shiromani Akali Dal has been almost mum on these issues for the past 10 years. This time the people’s issues which will matter are taxes, prices, etc.

While the poor has been hit hard because of a steep rise in the price of wheat flour, the cost of living of the middle class has become stifling. The constant increase in education expenses is also pinching the middle class.

The middle class feels cheated because of 40 per cent increase in interest on house building loans in a year. The farming sector is in a crisis due to indebtedness, the bumper cotton crop in the Malwa belt not withstanding. 

 

Ludhiana: Pending projects weigh on voters’ mind
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
It could have been bridges to voters’ hearts in Ludhiana. But, several incomplete flyovers, considered a must for smooth traffic flow in any densely populated city, would weigh on the minds of the voters.

The incomplete flyovers at Dhandari and Civil Lines, change in the plan of the much-publicised elevated road, lack of civic amenities, poor shape of roads, encroachments and pollution are the issues that would cast their shadow when the city goes to the polls in February.

Even after seven years, the sewerage treatment plants at Bhattian and Jamalpur are yet to be completed. The project was aimed at treating the sewage before being discharged into the Sutlej through Buddha Nullah. Owing to the delay in execution of the projects, the nullah has become a source of diseases.

Work on the elevated road started in 2000 and was completed only two months ago. It has failed to ease traffic problem for not being connected to the old city parts as per the original plan.

‘‘The elevated road has become a problem instead of a solution to traffic problem. It has ruined the business of many traders in the vicinity. We want the candidates to promise a solution to the problem before we support him’’, said Mr Kamarjit Singh, an office-bearer of the Ghanta Ghar Shopkeepers Union.

To cap it, all residents of the Civil Lines area are also an angry lot. The local administration started a project to construct a railway over bridge in place of the old Lakkar Bridge. The work on the new bridge was stopped more than a year ago.

Residents of this area, which falls in the Ludhiana (West) constituency, say they would only vote for a candidate who would promise completion of the bridge. They have started a signature campaign in favour of the project.

The work on the Gill Bridge, that had collapsed more than a year ago, is yet to be completed. Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had inaugurated it.

‘‘We are going to ask the candidates about the status of these pending projects before casting our votes in their favour. They have to be answerable to the electorate and not just think we are dummies and would vote for them, ’’ said Mr S.S. Chana, a resident.

 

poll bounty
Encroachers have a field day
Praful Chander Nagpal

Fazilka, January 19
As electioneering gains momentum here, members of the ruling party have devised a novel way to woo the electorate. The local Municipal Council has reportedly allowed around 50 families to encroach upon a piece of prime municipal land, allegedly at the behest of the ruling party.

The families have encroached upon about 5 marlas each for raising residential units on about 4 acres on the Senia road, near S.D. Senior Secondary School. Some of them have even laid foundation and raised boundary walls.

Certain persons, who were supervising the construction at the site, said they had been “verbally authorised by the ruling party leaders to carry out the construction”.

The encroachers had reportedly been attempting to occupy the land for the past about one month. There had been a dispute over sharing of the land, which was reportedly resolved with the intervention of certain leaders of the ruling party.

Mr Rajiv Prashar, SDM, said he had issued a letter to the Executive Officer of the council yesterday regarding the encroachment. However, he had not received any response yet. He added that the officer was on leave.

There have been reports of encroachments on Panchayat land in a number of villages, allegedly on behalf of the Congress leaders. Litigations regarding such cases are pending in the court.

 

Ticket in kitty, they now flock to astrologers
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
How can elections in India ever take off without the intervention of omnipresent soothsayers who claim to know it all? Punjab is no different. Despite their names having been cleared by the party high command, many candidates at the hustings for the 117 Assembly segments are doing the rounds of astrologers, vastu shastra experts, babas and oracles before launching their election campaign.

Not confident about the prophecies made by local astrologers, some candidates have sent out emissaries to far-off states like Orissa and Bihar for consultation.

There is a beeline for the Bhrigu families of Hoshiarpur, two or three totally commercialised astrologers in Chandigarh, an engineer-cum-astrologer from Ludhiana, an author of astrological books located in Orissa; the list is endless.

Interestingly, with the ancient art of vastu shastra being revived over the past few years, experts in the area along with those specialising in Chinese art of Feng Shui are much in demand.

Astrological predictions doing the rounds vary from the political party that will form the next government to the victory and defeat of political heavyweights, lady luck smiling on first-time contenders and rout of well-entrenched politicians. Invoking divine intervention through religious japs and astrological upayas has become routine for a majority of the candidates in the fray.

The Shiromni Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, have organised and participated in hundreds of paths for the victory of the party and well-being of the family. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s close aides, including those dealing with the media, have been doing the rounds of a particular astrologer, who reportedly predicted a political turmoil for the Chief Minister’s brother-in-law, Mr Natwar Singh.

According to Mr Vinod Gupta, a Ludhiana-based astrologer, the most common questions asked by candidates pertain to an auspicious day and time for filing nominations. The other queries include the favourable colour that he or she must wear for success, the kind of vehicle to be used for campaigning, path which the candidate must take to approach the office of the returning officer for filing the nomination papers and the direction in which the campaign should be initiated.

A candidate whose name has been cleared from one of the Assembly segments in Hoshiarpur has actually got a building demolished to have his campaign office reconstructed according to vastu shastra. All arrangements inside the building have been readjusted according to Feng Shui to “generate positive energy”, says the expert who guided the politician to do so.

Astrological tools used to make predictions include the New Year chart (Lunar Chaitra Shukladi) and the solar ingress charts for the respective states, charts cast for the commencement of voting in respective states. A Bihar-based astrologer and author has decided to capitalise on the elections and is offering to do predictions on the Internet.

Many politicians have taken to feeding animals like cows, bringing in black dogs and cats into their homes for good luck or leaving them near the homes of their rivals to negate their enemy’s “bad influence”.

"Destiny is nothing but the composite fruit of one's own actions during previous lives. Astrology is a science, which depicts an individual's destiny pattern with a particular set of planetary conditions in the birth chart”, says a city astrologer, booked by politicians for the next two weeks.

 

POLL BYTES

DCC vice-chief expelled

ABOHAR: Mr Baljit Singh Burjmuhar, a member of the Zila Parishad and vice-president of the District Congress Committee (DCC), has been expelled from the party for six years for organising a meeting of Congress workers here on Thursday to criticise the party high command for re-nominating Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti from the Balluana (reserved) constituency. The party has decided to serve a show-cause notice on six other senior workers. — OC

Libra brothers to back Bhatti

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, SAD candidate from the Sirhind constituency, on Friday got a shot in the arm when Mr Kirpal Singh Libra and Mr Ranjit Singh Libra, both Akali dissenters, declared to support him. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, had held a meeting with them at their residence. — OC

Babehali worth Rs 2.5 cr

GURDASPUR: Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali, SAD candidate from the Gurdaspur Assembly constituency, on Friday filed his nomination papers. Mr Babehali filed an affidavit declaring his property to be worth about Rs 2.5 crore. — OC

 
 


No racism in Canada, says Herb Dhaliwal
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Striking roots in greener pastures across the seas may not be easy. But winds of racism do not rip up the dignity of Indians trying to settle down in Canada , says the country’s first minister of Indian origin Herb Dhaliwal.

In Chandigarh, along with a delegation from Ontario, to explore business opportunities in Punjab, Mr Dhaliwal says the country believes in the concept of multi-culture and “people are ever willing to support you as long as you are doing good work”.

Elected to power from a constituency with less than 4 per cent Indian voters, the former Natural Resources Minister says the country’s policies are fair to all and citizens are tolerant. The fact that so many Indians have made it to Parliament is a testimony to this effect.

He says Indians and immigrants from other countries have to struggle initially. Some of them have to go back to school for further studies due to different professional environment. But there is no discrimination because of race, even in jobs.

“The standard of education in India is far better than that in other countries. But then Indians, like other immigrants, are painted with the same brush. As such, they find it hard to transfer their skills in the country,” he asserts. Mr Dhaliwal says the Canadian government, as of now, is trying hard to accommodate the immigrants in the best possible manner. “You see, we do not want doctors to be driving taxis,” he says.

For him, the grass is in any case greener on his side. “Even the Indians retiring from service in Canada upon attaining the age of superannuation can live comfortable. A couple gets anything like Canadian $ 1,600 as pension. The amount is enough for comfortable existence. Then, there are other benefits, including subsidised housing and free medicines”, he says.

Mr Dhaliwal was initially appointed as Minister for Fisheries and Oceans by the then Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Jean Cheretien, on August 3, 1999. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993, representing the federal riding of Vancouver South. In 1997,he was re-elected. He also held the portfolio of national revenue from June,1997, to August,1999.

He was an active member of the Prime Minister’s Team Canada Trade Mission to India and had also led the Canadian observer presence for presidential elections to the Dominician Republic.

A commerce graduate from the University of British Columbia , Mr Dhaliwal has more than 25 years’ experience in private and public sector. He is a life member of the India Cultural Centre of Canada, located in Richmond , BC. He was honoured with a citation from the Canadian Red Cross Society for his work in assisting Kurdish refugees.

 

Empowering farmers with information
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
He is in Punjab all the way from Canada to sow the seeds of information so that farmers and others can reap the benefits, literally.

Once his project grows on the mindset of Indian farmers, they will be able to tell exactly which crops to grow and the amount of fertiliser to be mixed in. For, Dr Robert Moses’ company - PCI Goematics Enterprises Incorporated with headquarters in Ontario’s Richmond Hill - looks at the “growth” conditions from far to give the agriculturists a closer look at the scenario that’s existing.

In fact, the organisation through satellite imagery gives not just the farmers, but also the insurance companies and commercial houses a holistic view. “Through remote sensing, they are able to exactly tell the condition of the soil, the crop that’s suitable to grow and the amount of fertiliser that’s required, besides the availability of water,” says Dr Moses. “In case of scarcity, the farmers can go in for crops requiring less water to save them from facing the situation of crop failure”.

In Chandigarh, along with a delegation from Ontario, to cultivate business opportunities in Punjab, Dr Moses, the company’s CEO, says: “The farmers will also be able to identify the problems afflicting their crops and take remedial measures before it is too late, improving the productivity in the process”.

This is not all. At a macro scale, they will be able to understand the market better by knowing the exact area under cultivation of each crop. That way they can tap the market potential by growing the crop that’s going to be scarce.

The service will be available to the farmers free of cost. “All that the agriculturists have to do is to log on to the Internet and download the required information,” says Canada’s former minister Herb Dhaliwal. Closely associated with the project, Mr Dhaliwal says the farmers will even have access to the weather conditions prevailing in the state during the coming weeks.

“Clicking on to the programme of a planned agricultural production will not be tough for the farmers as computers are readily available in Punjab. The affluent farmers in the state have them at their homes. Others can go to cyber cafes and even schools to acquire the data”.

The programme will also benefit not just the end users, but also major players in the commodity market and the insurance companies. The latter will have to pay for the services.

Mr Dhaliwal adds that phase I of the project has already been completed and the company has proved the concept. For full implementation, they are in touch with the Punjab Government and have held a meeting with the state Chief Secretary. “We have told senior Punjab Government functionaries that the state, by taking a lead role, can also collect royalty from other states,” says Mr Dhaliwal. “In any case, we are also looking for Indian partners in the agriculture sector”.

But why Punjab ? “Well, the state has a firm agricultural base and has always been a leader in the field. Besides this, the countryside is quite up-to-date and open to new ideas and concepts,” the former natural resources minister concludes. 

 

Migrant families from Pak form organisation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 19
The Pak Refugee Organisation was established, here today, by a group of 35 families who had migrated from Pakistan during the partition.

In a press release, Kuldeep Singh Virk, president of the organisation, said that one of their main demands was to equate their status with those of riot-affected victims and to avail of benefits that are given to economically backward families. Mr Virk added that the displaced families, particularly those engaged in agricultural, should be allotted land.

He alleged that despite tall claims made by parties in power, just 40 per cent families of migrants were allotted land. During the meeting, Mr Karnail Singh and Mr J. S. Thind were appointed general secretaries of the organisation.

 

Private company selects 18 students
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 19
Punj Lloyd Group of Industries conducted a campus interview at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, today. It selected 18 students.

According to Dr Dilbag Singh Hira, Principal of the college, the company shortlisted 43 students after group discussion conducted in the college. Out of that 18 were finally selected after interview.

He said these students were selected as graduate engineer trainees in the company and after training of one year they would be appointed as Engineer on a salary of Rs 2.5 lakh per annum.

The Training and Placement Officer of the college, Prof Gagandeep Singh, said Cognizent Technologies Solutions would be visiting the college in February for campus placements. The Member Secretary of the college, Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, congratulated the students.

 

Education boom changing periphery's skyline
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 19
The skyline of Chandigarh’s periphery is changing rapidly. The boom in the education sector has spurred the growth of educational institutions making the Banur-Rajpura stretch an institutional area changing the socio-economic scenario in the hitherto "backward region".

With several other institutions particularly IT parks lined up, the face of the region is further slated to undergo a change which will further bring in professionals and students.

The Giansagar, the Swami Vivekanand Group and the Chitkara are the major groups which have set up a chain of institutions in the region. If their expansion plans are any indication, more professional colleges are in the offing.

"Close proximity to the tricity and the strategic location on the tri-junction of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh makes the area a favoured destination for the setting up of the educational institutions," says Mr Manmohan Garg, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Swami Vivekanand Group of Institutions.

As large chunks of land are available at affordable prices, the promoters of educational institutions preferred this area. With IT parks slated to come up in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, they could serve as a training ground for the IT professionals, he added.

Another educational consultant added that since the land costs were prohibitive in the tricity, the area offered a cheap alternative. We are planning a series of educational institutions to cash in on the education boom in Chandigarh’s periphery, he added.

 


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