P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


It’s a flag war in Kanuwan
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Kanuwan (Gurdaspur), January 21
The rural constituency of Kanuwan is witnessing a tough contest between Congress minister Pratap Singh Bajwa and former SAD minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan.

A tour of the constituency revealed that voters here are clearly divided and a flag war is being waged by supporters of the two parties. Over 90 per cent houses in the constituency have flags of either of these parties on their roofs.

If these flags are any indication, the Congress seems to have an edge over the SAD. However, the SAD candidate, Mr Sekhwan, alleges that people are being forced to display Congress flags on roofs.

Interestingly, some houses have both the Congress and the SAD flags fluttering. Both the SAD and the Congress candidates are concentrating on holding corner meetings.

While Mr Bajwa is highlighting the development carried out in the constituency during the past five years, Mr Sekhwan is alleging that SAD workers have been victimised and implicated in false cases during the Congress rule.

Mr Bajwa is claiming that about Rs 300 crore has been spent on development of the Kanuwan area. Most of the waterlogged area along the Beas has been connected with roads and bridges.

He is claiming credit for fair recruitment in the Department of Education during his stint as Education Minister.

Mr Sekhwan is banking on the anti-establishment factor against the sitting minister and alleged police atrocities on SAD workers during the Congress rule.

In the 2002 elections, Mr Bajwa defeated Mr Sekhwan by a margin of 6,805 votes.


Rebels adamant; issue ultimatum
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur January 21
Dissident leaders in the Narot constituency today organised a meeting of their supporters and gave two-day ultimatum to the party. The workers were peeved at the allotment of the party ticket to sitting MLA Rumal Chand.

Most Congress ticket aspirants from the Narot constituency, including Mr Joginder Singh Chinna,Mr Surinder Chaurdhary,Mr Swatam Dass and Mr Balbir Kumar participated in the meeting. The Chairman of the Bloc Samiti Narot, Thakur Mayer Singh, and Chairman of the Bloc Samiti Bhoa Chaudhary Hari Narain attended the meeting.

The MLA of Pathankot, Mr Ashok Sharma, again the party nominee from the constituency, is also making efforts to bring back disgruntled leaders to the party fold. Yesterday he held a meeting with the Congress municipal councillors peeved at him.

The councillors gave a tough time to the MLA, accusing him of misbehaving with them during his five-year stint as MLA. The other aspirants of the party ticket from the area, including former minister Raman Bhalla have not returned to the area.

In Gurdaspur, Mr Raman Behl, president of the local Municipal Council and son of sitting MLA Khushal Behl organised a meeting of workers and may contest as an Independent.

In the Sujanpur Assembly constituency, prominent leaders who demanded that the ticket should not be allotted to sitting minister Raghunath Sahay Puri have decided against campaigning for the party.

On the other hand, the SAD and BJP have managed to contain dissidence in most constituencies. The SAD general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh, has managed to get Mr Gurmeet Singh Para, a dissident leader from Gurdaspur, campaigning for the party candidate, Mr Gurbachan Singh Babaehali.

Mr Mohan Lal of the BJP , a former minister who is contesting from Pathankot, has managed to bring back into fold many of his detractors.

However, former minister from Sujanpur Satpal Saini is still camping at Delhi and is not likely to campaign for the party.


Rajpura: Stakes high, 55 pc polling booths sensitive
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 21
With stakes high in the Rajpura Assembly constituency, the administration is gearing up to ensure a free and fair poll.

In fact, the conduct of a free and fair poll for the constituency is going to be a tough task for the authorities concerned, with 78 of the 142 polling booths being declared sensitive.

The maximum number of sensitive booths has been declared under the jurisdiction of the City police station, where 49 polling booths fall in this category, according to sources.

Similarly, 18 polling booths under the Sadar police station fall in the category of sensitive, followed by nine under the Banur police station and two in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

Meanwhile, in view of the large number of booths being declared sensitive, the police is making elaborate security arrangements to ensure a free and fair poll. As per the plan, an ASI will surpervise the security arrangements at each of the sensitive booths.

The other polling booths will be manned by lower-level police officials, including constables and head constables, according to the official sources.

Mr Raj Khurana is locked in a tough contest with Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj of the Congress.

The going may get tough for Mr Khurana as the SAD is miffed at the denial of ticket to an Akali candidate.

In fact, one of the Akali claimants for the ticket, Mr Avtar Singh Harpalpur, has already expressed his intention to contest as an Independent candidate.

Besides the mainline political parties, several other candidates are also in the fray, which the sources claim, have the capacity to tilt the balance.

Almost every political party had dissensions within its rank and file, which may prove to be costly for the party candidates.


Gill on post till polling
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The new Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr R.S. Gill, will hold the post till the completion of the election process in Punjab. Once the process is completed by March 3, the new government will be at liberty to appoint a new officer.

Mr Gill will take over tomorrow morning. The Election Commission of India has made it clear to the Punjab Government that the appointment of Mr Gill is specific to the elections.

Yesterday, the EC had cleared the appointment of Mr Gill from a panel of three names - Mr G.S. Aujla, Mr R.S. Gill and Mr Mohammad Izhar Alam. The EC had first decided on Mr N.P.S. Aulakh, Special DGP, BSF. An order was also issued which had to be withdrawn after it was found that one of his relatives was contesting on a ticket of a mainstream party.

Mr Gill, an ardent sports lover, is considered a non-controversial and an upright officer. He had a long stint with the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) at Jalandhar and took keen interest in promoting sports and sportspersons at the PAP. He was awarded the Presidents Police Medal for distinguished services in 2002.

Virk is PPHC chief

The Punjab Government today issued fresh posting orders for the outgoing DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, following a high-level meeting.

Mr Virk will take charge as Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC). Mr Anil Kaushik will replace Mr R.S. Gill at the Punjab Police Training Academy, Phillaur.


SAD wants action against PR officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Shiromani Akali Dal today objected to the alleged use of songs and advertisements prepared by the Public Relations Department of the Punjab Government for the election campaign of the Congress.

The SAD urged the Election Commission to stop the telecast of these songs and advertisements and demanded action against Congress officers and officials of the PR Department for conniving with the Congress .

A formal complaint was sent to Chief Electoral Officer Sundaram Krishna and to Chief Election.

In his complaint, the SAD secretary alleged that all audio and video-cassettes being used by the Congress during the elections were prepared by the PR Department to highlight the ‘achievements’ of the state government. He alleged that the tax-payer's money was used for preparation of these songs and advertisements.

Dr Cheema said this was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and misuse of government funds.


Ontario Premier visits Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 21
Mr Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, one of the largest provinces of Canada along with his wife Terry and other members of the Canadian delegation paid obeisance at the Golden Temple here today. It was a quiet visit of the Canadian Premier and the media was not informed about his visit to the city.

Mr Dalton and his wife took keen interest in the holiest Sikh shrine and visited various complexes on the premises of Darbar Sahib. Mr Jaswinder Singh, a member of the SGPC and Akali leader who accompanied the Canadian Premier during his visit to the temple said Mr McGuinty informed him that he celebrated Divali at the Queen Park (seat of Ontario Government) for the first time on October 10, last year where he and his wife were the chief guests. The event was co-sponsored by the Indian Consulate and the Panorama India, a community organisation.

Mr Jaswinder Singh said during an interaction he told him (the Premier) about the importance of Baisakhi in the Sikh history when 10th Sikh Master Guru Gobind Singh initiated the Khalsa Panth in 1699. He said Mr McGuinty assured him that he would keep this in mind and make an effort that it was celebrated in Canada also. He said Indian population especially Sikhs in Canada had played vital role in every field of life there.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Premier took detailed information about the history of the temple. He visited the langar hall of the temple and was surprised to learn about one lakh devotees visit the shrine daily besides having langar. He also saw the machine used for preparing langar.

Later the Premier accompanied with Canadian delegation crossed over to Pakistan via Wagah Joint Check post.


shadow boxing
Banur: It’s Kanwaljit versus Venod Sharma
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh January 21
It is going to be Capt Kanwaljit Singh versus former Haryana Power Minister Venod Sharma in the Banur Assembly segment.

Though Mr Rakesh Sharma, son of former Punjab Finance Minister Hans Raj Sharma, is the official candidate from Banur, the prestige of Mr Venod Sharma is at stake in the segment, which was once represented by him in the early eighties.

It is widely believed that the clout of the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and Mr Venod Sharma in the party high command was instrumental in getting ticket for Mr Rakesh Sharma, a greenhorn in the Punjab politics. The Congress high command had preferred Mr Rakesh Sharma over strong contenders for the seat, including Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon and Ms Seelam Sohi.

Congress sources said Mr Venod Sharma, who had large number of social contacts in the area, would leave no stone unturned for the victory of the Congress candidate, who is facing the Akali stalwart, Capt Kanwaljit Singh. Despite being an “outsider”, the Akali leader had a wide network in the predominantly rural constituency and worked for the constituency for five years (1997-2002) when he was the Punjab Finance Minister.

Sources claimed that with the resignation of Mr Venod Sharma in the wake of conviction of his son Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lal murder case, the former minister could spare enough time for the Congress’ campaigning. The support of the party cadre could be mobilised as the workers often supported the official candidate, a senior Congress functionary claimed.

However, Mr Rakesh Sharma is seemed to have made the contest interesting by playing the “Hindu card”. “It is primarily a Hindu seat and when the Congress had put up a non-Hindu candidate, the advantage is cleverly exploited by the Akalis, who divide the Hindu votes to win the seat”, asserts Mr Rakesh Sharma, who has business interests in the constituency and claims to have built “a network of contacts, friends and admirers in the area”.

With the SAD’s alliance partner BJP uneasy with the nomination of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the “Hindu card”, the Congress feels, could tilt the balance in its favour.


Capt Kanwaljit campaigns for son
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 21
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) General Secretary Capt Kanwaljit Singh today held a series of meetings at nearby villages of Mohali campaigning for his son and SAD-BJP combine candidate Jasjit Singh from Kharar. He toured Nanu Majra, Manakpur, Bairampur, Baghomajra, Lakhnaur, Landran, Janjheri, Todarmajra, Majat, Niamian, Papna, Makra, Majatri, Rasanheri and Magar. He was accompanied by Jasjit Singh and Rajbir Singh Padiala.

Speaking at the meetings, Captain Kanwaljit said the area had witnessed zero growth during the past five years. He added that it was unfortunate that the development was put on back burner. He further said after assuming power the party would encourage sports activities in the area and sportspersons of high calibre would be provided with every possible facility from the school level up to the highest level. Sports and health clubs of the area would be given due share in grants-in-aids so that youth of the area could benefit.

Jasjit Singh said he would ensure all round development of the area if the party assumed power. He also said the representative of the ruling party in the area had done nothing during the past five years as he was not a legislator and had no say in the government.


angry ones
Bitter Lubanas may dump Congress
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 21
The Congress has ‘ignored' Hindus and Lubanas while allocating tickets for the forthcoming Assembly elections, say representatives of the two communities.

The president of the Bharatiya Dharam Raksha Samiti, Mr Manoj Kumar Nanha, said the Congress had fielded 18 Hindu candidates as compared to 28 last time, whereas the president of the All-India Lubana Sikh Sabha, Mr Jagtar Singh Multani, said the Congress had not fielded any Lubana candidate.

Mr Nanha said the Congress had given tickets to few Hindus , considering their population in Punjab. The Congress had ignored the Hindus, especially in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts, from where it had not fielded a single candidate from the community.

The members of the samiti took out a protest march against the Congress from Geeta Mandir at Aadarsh Nagar to Clock Tower via Football Chowk for `ignoring' the Hindus.

Similarly talking to The Tribune, Mr Multani said the SAD had fielded three candidates - Bibi Jagir Kaur (Bholath), Mr Balbir Singh (Tanda) and Mr Amarpal Singh (Ajnala)- from the Lubana community.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone from New Delhi, Senior Vice- President of the PPCC, Mr M.M. Singh Cheema said the Congress had ignored merit while allocating tickets.

Mr Multani and Mr Nanha said the Congress should review its list of candidates and give proper representation to their communities.


Cong betting on women
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 21
In the seven Assembly constituencies of this district, the Congress has given the lion’s share to women by allotting them four tickets. However, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has not nominated even a single woman candidate in the district.

The Congress has allotted party tickets to its woman candidates for Lehra, Dhuri, Malerkotla and Sherpur. On the other hand the Congress has denied ticket to Ms Sonia Deepa Arora, who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections from Sunam in February, 2002. Her younger brother, Mr Aman Arora, son of late Bhagwan Dass Arora, former minister, has got the ticket.

From Lehra, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, is the Congress nominee for the fourth time. She has Assembly elections from this seat three times in 1992, 1997 and 2002. She faces a tough competition from Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, a SAD nominee. Ms Razia Sultana, Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, is contesting on the Congress ticket in Malerkotla for the second time consecutively. Mai Roop Kaur, who has reportedly resigned as member of the Punjab Public Service Commission recently, has been given the ticket from Dhuri while Ms Harchand Kaur Ghanauri has been allotted the Congress ticket from Sherpur (Reserved) constituency once again.


Bhattal leads liability list
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 21
The Department of General Administration has shot off a missive to all Deputy Commissioners along with a list of ministers and former ministers having liabilities towards the Punjab Government with respect to house building advance and car advance to check information to be furnished by them while seeking election to the Assembly next month.

Leading the list of ministers is Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal who has a liability of Rs 7.36 lakh (house building advance) and Rs 4.55 lakh (car advance).

Revenue Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa is the next in the list of car advance with Rs 4.7 lakh followed by Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang with Rs 4.35 lakh and Minister of State for Science and Technology Rakesh Pandey with Rs 3.55 lakh.

The name of former Parliamentary Secretary Gurbinder Singh Atwal also finds mention in both lists as he owes Rs 3.75 lakh (house building advance) and Rs 4 lakh (car advance). Former Minister of State Ramesh Dutt Sharma also owes Rs 3.9 lakh with respect to car advance.

Former Sports Minister Nusrat Ali Khan leads a separate list of the then ministers who are at present not holding any office. He owes Rs 4.65 lakh with respect to house building allowance. Former Forest Minister Surjit Kumar Jyani also has a liability of Rs 4 lakh on account of house building advance and Rs 4.3 lakh as car advance.

Others in the list include Raghbir Singh: Rs 3 lakh (house building), Rs 2.1 lakh (car advance), Sucha Singh Langah: Rs 2.55 lakh (house building), Rs 1 lakh (car advance), Swarna Ram: Rs 2.48 lakh (house building), Rs 1.25 lakh (car advance), Ajit Singh Kohar: Rs 2.4 lakh (house building), Manoranjan Kalia: Rs 2.45 lakh (car advance), Raman Bhalla: Rs 2.3 lakh (car advance), Balbir Singh: Rs 1.88 lakh (house building) and Nirmal Singh Kahlon Rs 1.63 lakh (house building).

The list also mentions the month of last instalment recovered from these ministers. A couple of these ministers had last paid their instalment exactly five years ago in January 2002.


VP, Babbar stars of Shambhu rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 21
Despite star campaigners like Bollywood actor Raj Babbar and former Prime Minister V.P. Singh coming to address the rally of Mr Shambhu Kumar Singh, a Jan Morcha nominee from for Ludhiana Rural seat, here today, the entire show remained a damp squib. The organisers could not even ensure the expected number of people.

Throughout his address, Mr V.P. Singh’s catchwords remained “kisan” and “mazdoor” as he focused on the migrants working in agricultural fields and industry. He called upon the gathering to strengthen his party by giving their mandate in Mr Shambhu Kumar’s favour, who, he said, would raise their issues in the Punjab Assembly, if voted to power.

He said by contesting the elections in the state, Mr Shambhu Kumar, who was himself a migrant, was creating a history.

‘‘Your decision is being awaited with great interest. You have also contributed to the state's progress by sweating it out in the fields and factories. You, too, can send your representative to the Assembly, ’’ said Mr V.P. Singh.

However, Raj Babbar proved a bigger crowd-puller as people were seen listening to him with all attention. He appealed to them in Punjabi, Hindi and Jaunpuri languages to support Mr Shambhu Kumar.

Taking a dig at native population for not respecting migrants and at the same time praising Sikhs for being hard-working community, Raj Babbar said migrants would have to command respect like Sikhs, who, he said, were respected everywhere.


Rai Sikh Maha Panchayat decides to oppose Cong
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 21
The Rai Sikh community which is a large vote bank in this border area, organised “Maha Panchayat” at Megha Rai Utar village here today at which it decided that the community would oppose Congress candidates in various Assembly constituencies of this district.

Rai Sikhs, which over the years have been demanding that they should be granted SC status, are annoyed with the Congress as no candidate from their community has been allotted the party ticket, notwithstanding their over 3.5 lakh strong vote bank in this district. They were demanding that a candidate from their community be allocated at least one seat from Ferozepore City, Guruharsahai or Jalalabad constituencies where they have a strong pressure.

However, the Congress has chosen to repeat all three candidates from these constituencies.

Capt Amarinder Singh’s close aide and Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Mr Hans Raj Jossan, Minister of state for Irrigation and Forests, and an oldhorse of the Congress, Pandit Balmukand Sharma, have been given the tickets from Guruharsahai, Jalalabad and Ferozepore City, respectively.

Rana Sodhi and Mr Jossan were sitting MLA’s whereas Mr Sharma, had lost the last election.

At today’s Mahapanchayat, prominent Rai Sikh leaders, cutting across party lines, got together on one dais. Prominent among those present were Former Minister Sajwar Singh, Dr Mohan Singh Phalianwala, former MP, Mr Balwinder Singh of the CPI (M), Mr Bakar Singh of the SAD, Mr Hansa Singh, president, Border Area Sangharsh Committee, Mr Resham Singh president, Rai Sikh Sarpanch Union, Mr Harbans Singh former-vice, chairman, Block Samiti, Mamdot, Mr Satnam Singh president, Rai Sikh Students Union, and Mr Pala Singh, former member, Block Samiti.


INLD to campaign for SAD-BJP candidates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leaders and workers today went to Punjab to campaign for SAD-BJP combine candidates for the Assembly elections following a decision taken at a joint meeting of the state executive and the Political Affairs Committee of the party held under the chairmanship of the President, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, here today.

Mr Chautala later told reporters that his party workers would work in the constituencies adjacent to Haryana. He said the INLD's first aim was to defeat the Congress and to get rid of it at the national level. In Punjab, since the SAD was the only alternative to the Congress, the INLD would support it and its allies.

On January 23,Mr Chautala would accompany the SAD candidate from Ghannaur, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, and on January 24, he would be with the SAD candidate from Lehragaga, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, when they would file their nomination papers.

Mr Chautala demanded a CBI inquiry into the Gurgaon serial killings which resulted in 29 murders. He criticised Mrs Sonia Gandhi for politicising the Nithari incident and neglecting the Gurgaon serial killings. He also reiterated his demand for an all-party meeting for discussing deteriorating law and order situation in the country.


24 former govt employees in fray
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
More than 24 former government employees are in Punjab’s poll fray this time - among then are doctors, teachers and PCS, IAS and IPS officers. There are a few retired Armymen too.

Among these government employees aiming to be legislators are Mr P.S. Bhinder, Congress nominee from Gurdaspur, a former Punjab Police chief, Mr Amarjit Singh, SAD nominee from Talwandi Sabo, a retired IAS officer, and Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, who recently resigned from the Punjab Civil Services. He has been given the Congress ticket from Nathana.

The sitting Congress MLA from Banga, Mr Tarlochan Singh, is from the Indian Foreign Services. From Lehragagga, former MP Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra is contesting on the SAD ticket. Sitting SAD MLA from Sultanpur Dr Upinderjit Kaur was Head of the Economics Department, Punjabi University, Patiala.Mr Harmel Singh Tohra, son-in-law of the late G.S. Tohra, was employed in the Food corporation of India before joining politics. Mr Gura Singh Tungwali, SAD nominee from Nathana, is also a former government employee.

Mr Malkiat Singh has been given the SAD ticket from Jandiala. He has been an Assistant Registrar. He is pitted against sitting Congress MLA, Mr Sardool Singh, who was the government’s Deputy District Attorney. Mr Sital Singh, sitting SAD MLA from Dharamkot, has been Assistant District Attorney.

Sitting Congress MLA Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa has been re-nominated for the Fazilka seat. He served as Medical Officer in Fazilka and has been member-secretary, Punjab Public Service Commission. Another PPSC member who is trying her luck this time is Mai Roop Kaur from Dhuri.

For the Chamkaur Sahib seat, the Congress has nominated Mr Manmohan Singh, a former Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO). He faces a former teacher and sitting MLA Satwant Sandhu of the SAD. Another teacher, Ms Satwant Kaur Dhaliwal, is contesting from Amloh on the SAD ticket, while the BJP has Mr Mohan Lal from Pathankot. Mr Avtar Brar, Congress nominee from Faridkot, and Mr Karnail Singh Narike of the SAD ( Amritsar) at Dhuri are other teachers in the fray.


Uma Bharti banking on hung House
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 21
Firing a salvo at the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress, the fire-brand leader of the Bhartiya Janshakti Party, Ms Uma Bharti, today said both these parties had made the state ‘ a den of corruption’ and a hung Assembly alone could rescue the state.

She was addressing a meeting of party workers at a local school here today. While repeatedly ridiculing the Bharatiya Janata Party , Ms Bharti said nothing about the Congress.

She called for the rule of a nationalist party in the state so that corruption could be nailed. The former Union Minister said if the Akalis came into power, terrorism could again raise its ugly head.

Speaking on Ms Sonia Gandhi's origin, she said she would not stop talking about it till a Bill was passed prohibiting ‘foreigners’ from holding powerful positions in the country.


Sidhu extends olive branch
Tribune News Service

Kharar, January 21
The Congress candidate from Kharar, Mr Balbir Sidhu, yesterday stated that he would go to the houses of all Congress leaders who were not happy with his candidature to pacify them.

He added that the Congress would be united in Kharar and various leaders of the party would join him in his campaign.

Mr Sidhu was addressing supporters who had gathered at Kharar for the opening of his election office here.

Though his candidature was opposed by sitting MLA Bir Devinder Singh and Chief Minister’OSD Lakhvinder Kaur Garcha, Mr Sidhu said in the interest of the party, they should support him.

Mr Sidhu had been working in villages and had the backing of state Congress president Shasmsher Singh Dullo.

Speaking against his opponent Jasjit Singh Bunny of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sidhu said Jasjit was a new candidate and had no idea about the problems of the constituency.

Defeated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh by 1,500 votes when he contested elections in 2002 as an Independent, Mr Sidhu was confident of a win this time.


Delay: More join ticket race
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
The BJP's failure to announce its candidate from the Amritsar North Assembly has resulted in more aspirants joining the ticket race.

Supporters of Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, a former Punjab minister, have sent telegrams to the party high command to field him from the constituency. Supporters of Dr Baldev Chawla are against nominating Mr Anil Joshi, a close confidant of Navjot Singh Sidhu, from the seat. While the stalemate continues, both front runners might accept a third person as the candidate from the seat.

Mr Tandon was earlier aspiring for the party ticket from Amritsar Central, but had to eat humble pie when the party high command again fielded Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a firebrand leader of the party.

Mr Tandon had fought many electoral battles from Amritsar before he was moved to Rajpura.

Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Satpal Mahajan, Mr Shavet Malik and Mr Subhash Sharma are also in the race for the party ticket.


PPCC secy Mann resigns
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
Mr Harinder Pal Singh Mann, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) secretary, today resigned from his post and from the primary membership of the Congress.

He alleged that the party had been favouring those candidates who had recently shifted loyalties from the SAD while true Congressmen who had stood by the party through thick and thin were being ignored.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Mann claimed that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his wife Preneet Kaur had turned the party into their personal fiefdom, because of which interests of party workers were being ignored.

Mr Mann stated that he had been garnering the support of at least 5,000 persons from the Shutrana and Samana Assembly segments, who would hold a demonstration in front of the residence of the Chief Minister here to express their disenchantment with the present regime on January 23.

Sources disclosed that Mr Mann would, in all probability, join the SAD in the presence of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal here on January 23.


Kang welcomes new entrants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Congress candidate from Morinda, today claimed that at least 12 Akali and Bahujan Samaj Party activists along with their supporters joined the Congress under his leadership at Teur village.

Some of the persons who joined the Congress said they were impressed with the working style of Mr Kang and the all-round development in the constituency.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Kang welcomed the new entrants to the party fold and assured of all possible help, respect and honour in the party set-up.

He hoped that voters and supporters would help him defeat the religion-driven, divisive and non-secular forces in politics.

He claimed that the Congress believed in action and progressive development and not merely Utopian promises for the general public.


Panthic issues take backseat
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 21
Panthic issues like demanding votes in the name of the community and blaming the Congress for Operation Bluestar and the 1984 riots that were the main poll plank of the SAD in earlier elections do not figure in the election campaign of the party in this district. None of the candidates of the SAD is raking up these issues.

The SAD is focusing on the poor, and is promising wheat at Rs 4 a kg and pulses at Rs 20 a kg.

In various constituencies, local issues are dominating. In Kanuwan, the SAD candidate, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, is alleging atrocities on workers by the sitting Congress minister, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Mr Sucha Singh Langah, SAD candidate from Dhariwal, is highlighting victimisation of Akali workers across the state allegedly by the Congress government. He claims he will be made the Home Minister in case the SAD wins.

Congress candidates are also not taking up issues related to the dark phase of terrorism in the state. They are mostly relying on the development plank.


Saini opens election office
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 21
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate from the Banur Assembly segment, Mr Avtar Singh Saini, today intensified his election campaign with the opening of his election office here today.

The office was inaugurated by Mr Gurnam Singh Sidhu, president of the Chandigarh unit of the ‘common front’.

Addressing supporters, Mr Saini claimed that he was the only local candidate fighting elections from Banur.

Coming down heavily on the SAD-BJP candidate, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the SAD (Amritsar) candidate claimed that he had promised to leave the Banur seat for a local candidate during the last elections, but refused to oblige now.


Wake-up call for general category
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 21
Raising placards against caste-based reservation, activists of the General Categories Welfare Federation yesterday took out a Voter Chetna March to sensitise the electorate on their voting right.

Addressing the march, federation chief Harbans Singh Sidhu said: “If we don’t exercise our voting right we can’t expect pro-people policies from the government.” He said there were over 2 lakh voters in the Bathinda Assembly seat, most of whom were from the general category.

He said the winning candidate got 22.17 per cent votes in the last Assembly elections. He said less polling paved the way for election of candidates of big parties and if the polling percentage could increase up to 80 per cent, any new capable candidate could win the elections.

Secretary Jaspal Datewas urged the electorate to vote for an able candidate. He said until the general category played a decisive role in the elections, no political party would care about its welfare. He said parties had made reservation a tool to form their governments and it was high time to make them realise that the vote of general category holds equal importance.


The drug bait
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
With elections round the corner, the prices of drugs like opium and poppy husk have skyrocketed. Information gathered by TNS revealed that opium, which was fetching Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per kg about a month ago, was now available at Rs 60,000 per kg. Similarly, the price of poppy husk had touched Rs 1,000 per kg.

Mr Sarbjit Singh, coordinator of the educational wing of the International Sikh Confederation, alleged some politicians had started distributing pain killers to woo voters.


Oustees’ demand
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The pre-1966 Punjab Capital Project Oustees Rehabilitation Committee, Mohali, has demanded that all candidates from Morinda, Kharar, Banur, Rajpura and Ghanaur constituencies come out with a document on their rehabilitation.

The committee claims to have the support of at least 3 lakh voters.



ETT teachers to back SAD

CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal today claimed that the Punjab State Elementary Teachers (ETT) Association had decided to extend support to the candidates of the SAD. It said the ETT leaders called upon SAD general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal at his residence here on Sunday and assured him that all teachers in the state would work for the defeat of the Congress. — TNS

Chahal joins Congress

GURDASPUR: A senior SAD leader, Mr Amarjeet Singh Chahal, joined the Congress on Sunday. He is considered a confidant of former SAD minister Sucha Singh Langah and was an aspirant for the party ticket from Gurdaspur. Mr Chahal joined the Congress after a meeting with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. — TNS

Terrorist-hit not to back Cong

GURDASPUR: Victims of terrorism in Punjab held a meeting at Pathankot on Sunday and decided to oppose the Congress in the Assembly elections. — TNS


Lala Lajpat Rai’s statue at Dhudike

Moga, January 21
A 12-feet high bronze statue of great freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai has been installed at Dhudike in this district of Punjab, the birthplace of Lala ji.

Suman, a freedom fighter and widow of Krishan Kant, former Vice-President of India, will unveil the statue worth Rs 9 lakh on the eve of 142nd birth anniversary of Lala ji at a special function being organised by the Lala Lajpat Rai Birthplace Memorial Committee on January 28 at Dhudike.

Anil Shastri, AICC Secretary and son of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, will be the chief guest.

Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha and chairman of the committee, will preside over the function. Satya Pal, general secretary of the committee, at Dhudike, announced this. — PTI


GCM upholds verdict of officer not guilty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
A general court martial (GCM), assembled to reconsider its earlier verdict of acquitting a Lieut-Col facing corruption charges, has upheld its earlier findings.

The GCM, which was presided over by Brig B.K. Goswami, had reconvened at Nasirabad yesterday. During the trial held between July and September, it had held that Lieut-Col H.K. Gulati was not guilty of all seven charges levelled against him in a case pertaining to recruitment during his tenure at the Ammunition Depot, Bathinda.

Defence counsel Col S.K Aggarwal (retd) said prosecution witnesses had themselves absolved the officer of charges of accepting illegal gratification for favouring a particular candidate and accepting Rs 6,000 as bribe.

The other charges against the officer included destroying applications received after the last date for submission, accepting applications beyond the stipulated period and convening an improper board of officers for the selection process.

Colonel Aggarwal said the officer had not violated any norms or orders in accepting the applications or convening the board and these were done within the existing provisions and orders issued by the higher authorities.


A student who shared dais with experts
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, January 21
Savant Dhindsa (22), a resident of old Suraj Nagari, yesterday returned from the UK after presenting a research paper at the Third International Conference on Technology, Knowledge and Society in Cambridge.

This son of a schoolteacher is a student himself. He is happy that he got a chance to present a research paper at an international conference. Only two Indians were selected for participating in the conference.

A student of computer engineering and information technology at the Institute of Management and Information Technology (MIMIT), Malout, Savant did his matriculation from Assumption Convent School and plus-two from DAV College.

The topic of his paper was data security.

According to Savant, the technological progress in the field of computer science and the Internet has changed the way we live now. These things would continue to mould our way of life in the new century also, he said. However, this progress was not without risk. That was the reason why data security had assumed so much importance these days, he added.

“During my 30-minute presentation at the conference, I elaborated on embedding cipher form of message into the digital image. The paper intended to give an overview of image steganography, including its uses and various techniques,” he said.

The conference addressed a range of critically important themes in various fields that addressed the complex and subtle relationship between technology, knowledge and society. Main speakers at the conference included some of the leading thinkers in these areas, he said.

Savant also presented a paper at the National Science Conference in Jaipur last year.


Saumya wins calligraphy contest
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 21
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Public School, Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, organised a state-level English Calligraphy Competition yesterday. About 200 students from different schools of the state participated in the competition which was conducted. There were five groups consisting students from Class I to Class V.

The result of the competition is as follows.

Group A (Class I): 1st prize - Saumya Ahluwalia (Sacred Heart Convent School, Ludhiana); 2nd prize - Upneet Kaur (Guru Nanak International Public School, Ludhiana); 3rd prize - Divij Babuta (M.G.N.Public School, Jalandhar city).

Group B (Class II): 1st prize - Anusha Sharma (Sacred Heart Convent School, Ludhiana); 2nd prize - Japneet Bedi (M.R.S. Police Public School,PPA,Phillaur) and Chetna (Kundan Vidya Mandir, Sr.Sec.School, Ludhiana); 3rd prize - Kriti Mahajan(M.G.N.Public School, Jalandhar city). Group C (Class III ): 1st prize - Shubham (Police DAV Public School, Amritsar); 2nd prize - Chaarvi Johar (Sacred Heart Convent School, Ludhiana); 3rd prize - Vidushi Parashar (Sacred Heart Convent School, Ludhiana).

Group D (Class IV): 1st prize - Aneesha Pental (MRS Police Public School, PPA, Phillaur) and Harkiran Sahiwal (Sacred Heart Convent School, Ludhiana); 2nd prize - Kamalpreet Kaur (Guru Hargobind Public School, Sidhwan Khurd); 3rd prize - Rakshandan (Police DAV Public School, Amritsar).

Group E (Class V): 1st Prize - Surjit Kaur (Guru Nanak Public School, Ludhiana); 2nd prize - Harseerat Singh (Police DAV Public School, Amritsar); 3rd prize - Jaskirat Kaur (Kundan Vidya Mandir, Sr. Sec. School, Ludhiana).


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