P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SC order on Sidhu will boost SAD-BJP fortunes
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Today’s decision of the Supreme Court of India, allowing former Indian cricketer and former Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu to contest the ensuing Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections, will have a major impact on the electoral fortunes of the SAD-BJP alliance.

Having emerged as the star campaigner for the alliance, which is fighting a bitter battle against the ruling Congress, Sidhu is expected to campaign extensively for the combine in almost all parts of the states, particularly those falling under the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency and his home district of Patiala.

With his charisma intact, in fact having been bolstered, in the aftermath of the conviction and subsequent sentencing by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Sidhu will certainly usher in a renewed vigour into the high voltage campaign launched by the alliance.

Sources in the BJP say that the former Indian opener has also been given the task of giving impetus to the so-far lackluster campaign of the BJP in the state.

Also, having been cleared by the BJP high command for the forthcoming bye-election to the Lok Sabha seat that he resigned after his conviction, Sidhu’s own campaign will be bolstered by the observations of the Supreme Court Bench that took up his plea.

The Bench took note of the fact since Sidhu was a sitting MP, he would not have incurred disqualification for a period of three months as provided in the Representation of the People Act. Moreover, if he had filed an appeal within three months, he would not have been disqualified till the decision of the appeal.

“Therefore, the appellant could have easily avoided the incurring of the disqualification by filing an appeal within three months from the date of his conviction by the High Court,” the Bench observed.

When Sidhu goes to the electorate now, he will lay claim to the high moral ground. Not only this, his own electoral chances already stand bolstered by the fact that the Congress is still to find a suitable candidate to oppose him.

However, the SAD-BJP leadership, and Sidhu himself would do themselves a huge favour by not forgetting that the Supreme Court has only decided the interim plea. The conviction has only been stayed and not set aside. Finally, as Sidhu knows too well, the last word on his legal woes is still to be said ( read written).


Sidhu confidant gets ticket
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Mr Anil Joshi, a confidant of Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, has been nominated by the BJP for Amritsar North while Mr Tikshan Sood, sitting MLA and former minister, has been named candidate for the Hoshiarpur constituency.

By declaring the nominations of Mr Joshi and Mr Sood, the BJP, an ally of the SAD, has announced candidates for all its share of 23 seats in the state. Veteran BJP leader Balramji Dass Tandon was also in the race for the Amritsar North ticket.


BJP celebrates with sweets
Varinder Walia

Amritsar, January 23
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and workers today distributed sweets and ladoos as soon as the Supreme Court granted stay, allowing Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu to contest the elections.

The BJP workers danced on the beat of the dhol at various places of the holy city.

History of sorts has been created when both the main contestants for the Lok Sabha byelection, Mr Navjot Sidhu, and Mr Surinder Singla, both belong to Patiala, would contest Lok Sabha byelection from Amritsar.


Capt Kanwaljit promises tax-free regime
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Capt worth at least  Rs 2.21 crore

  • Cash: Rs 2.21 lakh
  • Bank deposits: Rs 2.74 lakh
  • FDRs: Rs 7.40 lakh
  • Three cars: Rs 2.60 lakh
  • Gold: Rs 5.31 lakh
  • Landed property: Rs 2 crore

Dera Bassi, January 23
Putting his populist foot forward, the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today promised a zero tax regime besides promising a host of sops to all sections of society if the SAD-BJP alliance was voted to power in the February 13 Assembly elections.

Addressing a rally before filing his nomination papers from the Banur Assembly segment here today, Capt Kanwaljit tried to woo every section of society while giving a clarion call to the electorate to install "people's rule" by dislodging the "Raja". February 13 is the moment to restore your lost self-respect, the Akali stalwart exhorted the voters.

Promising old-age pension to the all males above 65 years and all female above 60 years, he announced that the amount of the pension would be hiked to Rs 400 per month. Similarly, all mahila mandals would be revived with a grant of Rs 50,000 each to empower women.

The SAD-BJP alliance was committed to providing wheat flour and dal at Rs 4 and Rs 20, respectively, to the poor, Capt Kanwaljit said alleging that the rising prices had made the lives of the common man difficult.

Various incentives to a cross-section of society, including Dalits, traders and farmers, would be restored by the alliance, he said.

The president of the Mohali district unit of the BJP, Mr Khuswant Rai Giga, claimed that only the alliance government could put the Punjab economy back on track.

Later, Capt Kanwaljit Singh filed four sets of nomination papers before the SDM, Mr Narinder Sangha. His wife, Mrs Sarbjit Kaur, filed the papers as the covering candidate. In his affidavit, Capt Kanwaljit Singh claimed his total assets were at least Rs 2.21 crore.


Dullo files papers; says wife his poll manager
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Khanna January 23
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today filed the nomination papers from the Khanna (reserved) constituency as a Congress candidate. He was accompanied by his wife, Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo, the sitting MLA from here. She filed the papers as the covering candidate.

Mr Dullo reached the office of the local Sub Divisional Magistrate in a long convoy with hundreds of his supporters following him. Some party leaders from across the state had also come to accompany him for filing of the nomination papers.

He said, he was not contesting with a view to becoming the Chief Minister, but as a loyal Congress worker.

About his wife, Ms Harbans Kaur, who had earlier expressed reservations about his contesting from here, Mr Dullo said, she would be in charge of his campaign" because I will not be able to devote much time as I have to move all over the state along with the Chief Minister", he said.

His wife nodded in consent, saying they were working as a team.

Mr Dullo declared his assets worth several crores. These include agricultural land worth Rs 2.5 crore consisting of 16 acres at Balachaur, five acres in Chuppi of Ropar district, about two acre in Khanna Khurd, about one-and-a-half acres in Allour, about five acres in Bhullepur, six acres in Rattan Kheri and six more in another village.

Besides, he owns a petrol station at , an industrial unit, Satluj Industries at Khanna. He has shares in Shreyans Oil and Fats to the tune of Rs 15 lakh, bank balance worth Rs 2.93 lakh, a commercial building worth Rs 23 lakh, a residential house worth Rs 35 lakh in Khanna, four plots worth Rs 20 lakh, Rs 11 lakh in cash, a Honda City car and 247 gm of gold.

Bhattal worth Rs 1.41 crore

Rajinder Kaur Bhattal Moonak (Sangrur), January 23
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (61), Congress candidate for the Lehragagga Assembly constituency and Deputy Chief Minister, while filing her nomination papers before the Returning Officer (RO) today also submitted the details of her assets, loans and a case against her.

As per the affidavit, submitted before the RO, Ms Bhattal has stated that she has Rs 22,500 in hand; bank deposits Rs 4,16,376; bonds, debentures and shares in companies worth Rs 82,60000, one policy with Bajaj Allianz , a yearly premium of 2,26,800; a Scorpio car Rs 7.50 lakh; jewellery valued at Rs 1.45 lakh, agriculture land at Changaliwala village and a residential building at Changaliwala village worth Rs 16 lakhs.


Kang invokes divine help
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
It’s barely seven in the morning but the flurry of activity at Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang’s residence in the ministers’ complex here is comparable to a household hosting a Punjabi wedding.

Tens of people are crowded outside in the porch and inside the house, preparing for the big day. Supporters talk in hushed tones among themselves. There is a lot to be done before Mr Kang begins his journey to Kharar to file his nomination papers as the Congress candidate from Morinda.

The day has been chosen with care - it’s Basant Panchami and Mr Kang is among the first to be ready. Dressed in a crisp white “kurta churidar”, a jacket and supporting a rust “pagri”, Mr Kang looks relaxed.

His wife Ravinder, his twin sister Manjeet, son Yadvindra and his wife Nidhi and younger son Amarinder, the Kang family, known for its simplicity and humility, is geared up for the day. But, first on the schedule is a visit to Mansa Devi Temple and the Nadha Sahib gurdwara.

The journey time to the temple is utilised in making phone calls and finalising the day’s schedule. The proposers are finalised. “Tell them to reach on time. Make sure everyone who reaches home is given breakfast and tea. Get along at least 30 large flags and some smaller ones and stickers for the cars,” instructs Mr Kang on the way, taking care of every little detail himself. The sign of a successful leader, 57-year-old Kang leaves nothing to chance, even if this is his nth election.

Mr Kang made his political debut almost three decades ago as a student leader of Panjab University. “Take the car through the university campus,” he tells the driver. “A visit to the campus is like a blessing.”

A minister in the Captain Amarinder Singh government, Mr Kang claims he has religiously done what all is expected of an MLA. “Those who vote for you want your presence, not just false promises. What counts is where you were when they needed you,” he says.

At Mansa Devi Temple, he quietly prays and ties a scarlet chunni around the shrine tree making a silent wish. At the Nadha Sahib gurdwara the towering personalities of Mr Kang and his two sons make the family stand out. Before leaving back for the city, Mr Kang stops to feed the monkeys and offer floral offerings in the flowing waters of the Ghaggar river.

By the time the family reaches home, the cars are ready, with a special open Gypsy for Mr Kang. Supporters are told to collect at the Kharar Guest House and later move on near the SDM’s office with strict instructions to stay outside the 100-meter radius of the office.

Thousands of people have lined up to show solidarity with Mr Kang as he files his nomination papers. The quiet smiling man is transformed into a leader of the masses. Heavily garlanded, he waves to the crowds.

“From today begins our intensive stage of campaigning and I know that the glory of victory, too, will be ours,” he says.


PPCC secy Harry joins SAD
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ghanaur/Gharam (Patiala), January 23
Encouraged with the defection of former PPCC secretary Harry Mann to the SAD today, its general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal claimed that atrocities committed on people had triggered a wave of defection in the Congress rank and file.

Mr Sukhbir Badal addressed well-attended rallies at Ghanuar, Gharam and Patiala town in support of SAD candidates. Claiming that he was going to give more severe jolts to the Congress in the coming days, he said people had come to know that a vote for the SAD-BJP would be a vote against the anti-people rule of the Amarinder government.

He was canvassing for Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur in Ghanuar, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra in Gharam and Mr Surjit Singh Kohli in Patiala town. Mr Kohli filed his nomination papers today.

Singling out the Chief Minister, Mr Badal added that under the Amarinder regime, Punjab’s economy had been reduced to a mess and the people would have to start afresh to rebuild the state.

“We seek vote for the prosperity of the masses. The SAD-BJP combine has made elaborate plans to boost the power, agriculture and transport sectors to generate employment”, he said.

Mr Badal claimed that around 40 Congress candidates had been facing rebels in their respective Assembly segments. 


BKU: One body, two voices
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Capt Amarinder Singh let down the farming community B.S. Rajewal

Atta at Rs 4 per kg would prove harmful to Punjab farmers. It is an election stunt. B.S. Mann

Chandigarh, January 23
While the Bharti Kisan Union led by Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal has extended support to the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the faction headed by Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann has announced it will back Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his party in the Assembly elections.

While Mr Rajewal says Capt Amarinder Singh let down the farmer community, Mr Mann thinks otherwise. He talks of measures undertaken to improve the lot of farmers.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone, Mr Rajewal said there were several reasons for opposing the Chief Minister and his party." The Chief Minister had promised Rs 30 per quintal as bonus on damaged paddy on the eve of the last Assembly elections. However, of the promised Rs 30, only one installment of Rs 10 was given to farmers.”

The Chief Minister had also promised to waive Rs 250 crore spent by farmers on buying fertilisers for one season of crops from agricultural cooperative societies. He had promised to give free power and canal water to farmers. However, after taking over as Chief Minister, he stopped free power to farmers till the last phase of his tenure.“ The government charged about Rs 1460 crore from farmers in four years as power bills. It was biggest jolt to farmers.”

Even those farmers got bills for canal water who had not used the canal water for irrigation at all, he added.

During the past five years, the education system collapsed, hitting the wards of farmers and poor sections in rural areas. " It is loss to one generation."

Health services were non-existent, he said.

" While the industry and mega projects have been given concessions worth several hundred crores, the government dithered on waiving loans to farmers.”

" We met Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He has accepted our demands for inclusion in the manifesto."

On the other hand, Mr Mann said Capt Amarinder Singh had ensured power supply for eight hours to the farm sector, given jobs on merit, reduced interest rates on loans to farmers, allowed one-time settlement of dues against farmers and upgraded rural infrastructure.

He said during the Badal regime, farmers had faced humiliation and loot at the time of selling of foodgrains. Mr Badal's proposal to give atta at Rs 4 per kg would prove harmful to Punjab farmers. " It is an election stunt and anti-development step."

Capt Amarinder had done to improve ties with Pakistan and it this would eventually serve to give a boost to the state's economy.


Pathankot to vote for district status
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 23
For a long time, people here have been demanding district status for the town. Demand continues to persist, so do promises by leaders. There have been several agitations, including an immolation attempt, in this regard.

The people feel they have a genuine grievance with the government, particularly after the Congress government, led by Capt Amarinder Singh, carved out three new districts of Tarn Taran, Mohali and Barnala.

Mr Mohan Lal, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for this seat and former minister, has been trying to make best of the issue.

Mr Mohan Lal said Mr Ashok Sharma, sitting MLA, had promised that within 39 days after being elected he would get district status for the town. “But five years have passed and Pathankot remains the same”, he pointed out.

However, Mr Mohan Lal himself remained a minister for five years during the Akali-BJP regime between 1997 and 2002. When asked, why he did not try for the district status to the town himself, he said: “It was not the issue then”.

The people of Pathankot say several districts like Mansa, Moga, Muktsar and Fatehgarh Sahib, too, were carved out much after they had raised the demand. 


Poll revives Goindwal’s dreams
Saurabh Malik and Gurbaxpuri

Goindwal Sahib (Tarn Taran), January 23
Twenty-six years have lapsed since a master plan was finalised for developing Goindwal Sahib as the country’s first industrial nucleus complex.
Yet, for realising the dream, successive governments at the Centre and the state have turned no stones, except for the foundation stone laid down by India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Interestingly, the stone of the newsprint manufacturing unit, to be set up at an estimated cost of Rs 240 crore, is missing. Along with it have disappeared the dreams of over 100 entrepreneurs, promised land by the government when militancy was at its peak in the state.

No wonder, the development issue is fast turning into an election concern with industrialists in the region categorically asking political bigwigs and vote-seekers to work for the revival of the Rs 1000-crore project. They are also demanding a special package for the rehabilitation of sick units.

Among them is capitalist Surjit Singh. Owning one of the few surviving units in the town, he says the nightmarish dream started with a pamphlet that announced the government’s plans of developing Goindwal Sahib as the state’s fourth biggest city in terms of industrialisation and population after Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana .

The leaflet also promised the setting up of heavy industrial units, including one for manufacturing HMT watches, in the industrial complex proposed to be expanded over 6,000 acres. The entire project, in accordance with the government’s 1978 industrial policy, was scheduled to be completed by 2001.

In fact, the foundation stone of the complex was laid by then Minister of State for Industries Charnjit Chanana on November 14, 1980, to mark the birth anniversary of the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Looking at the wonderland through the leaflet, Mr Surjit Singh left his steady job to set up a motor-winding wire unit in 1998. Initially, things looked promising, but soon he and other industrialists realised that things were just not happening. To begin with, nothing was done to develop the infrastructure. Even today, travelling on the road between Goindwal and Jalandhar is a nightmare.

Largely due to government apathy, the units began to close down operations. Now, of the 155 units, over 90 per cent have either pulled down the shutters or are in the process of winding up the operations, rendering workers jobless.

Prestigious units preferring to wrap up the business include Bawa Shoes Limited, Goindwal Cooperative Spinning Mills and Goindwal Steels. Even the tourist complex, set up amid great fanfare, is largely deserted with few industrialists from outside visiting the town.

“To make matters worse, the prices of commercial land haven’t gone up in sync with the rates prevailing in other cities,” says young entrepreneur Harpal Singh. “So we cannot even relocate ourselves”. As the elections are round the corner, he and others are now asking the candidates to oil the state machinery to set the project in motion, once again. 


I will not support Balbir Sidhu, says Gharuan
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 23
“I will not support Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, Congress candidate from the Kharar constituency, for the Punjab Assembly elections as he is allegedly involved in the distribution of liquor and other intoxicants among the people, especially the younger generation, during election rallies,” stated Mr Harnek Singh Gharuan, former Congress minister, at a press conference here today. He was accompanied by Mr Bharat Bhushan Maini, former senior vice-president of the Mohali Municipal Council, among others.

Mr Gharuan said he had been in a fix over the issue for the past about one week but finally decided not to support Mr Sidhu as his conscience did not allow him to do so. He said he would not force his decision on his supporters but let them decide on their own.

He said he was not against Mr Sidhu for running a liquor business as he was giving a huge revenue to the government. However, he opposed the way liquor and other intoxicants were allegedly distributed during election rallies of Mr Sidhu without bothering that the younger generation was being made to follow a destructive path. He appealed to women to become alert and make sure that their children did not give in to liquor and other intoxicants while attending political rallies.

He said how could Mr Sidhu ask Congress leaders who were opposed to him to maintain party discipline when he himself contested the last Assembly elections as an Independent when he was denied the party ticket. He said Mr Sidhu allegedly did not allow Mr Maini, who had been serving the Congress for the past about 20 years, to become the president of the civic body after the elections were held last year. Instead, he ensured that his own supporter got the prestigious post. When Mr Avtar Singh Dairi of the Congress contested the Zila Parishad elections, Mr Sidhu fielded his own supporter against Mr Dairi. As such he could not talk about party discipline.

Mr Gharuan wondered how Mr Sidhu managed to get the ticket of the sitting MLA cancelled for personal gains. He said Mr Bir Devinder Singh was a good politician and had also been given the award of being the best parliamentarian. He added that Mr Sidhu had also managed to get his (Mr Gharuan’s) ticket cancelled when he was the sitting MLA. He further said Mr Sidhu was a member of the PPCC, he was also the president of the Mohali district unit of the Congress and now he had been given the party ticket to contest the Assembly elections from the Kharar constituency. “This was not fair,” he added.


Cavalcades choke road traffic
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 23
Political heavyweights from this district, including Pratap Singh Bajwa (Kahnuwan), his brother Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa (Sri Hargobindpur), Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa (Qadian) and Nirmal Singh Kahlon (Fatehgarh Churian), filed their nomination papers today.

Flouting the election guidelines, they came to Gurdaspur heading huge cavalcades of vehicles. However, the cavalcades were stopped on the city outskirts and the candidates reached the office of the Returning Officer just in three vehicles each.

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa was heading a cavalcade of hundreds of vehicles and tractor-trailers carrying his supporters. It was stopped at Chander Palace outside the city leading to a traffic jam in the area.

Mr Fateh Jung Bajwa, Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon also brought with them hundreds of vehicles carrying their supporters. The cavalcades led to traffic jams on roads at different places in the district.

The candidate said they were not forcing anyone to come along with them. Moreover, we became candidates only after filing the nomination papers. Before that the Model Code of Conduct did not legally apply to them. However, they were speechless when confronted with the fact they went back to their respective constituencies along with the cavalcades.

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa had brought his wife and son along. He has declared his net assets to be worth about Rs 7 crore. His brother has the assets worth Rs 13 crore while Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa is worth Rs 1.5 crore.

Some of the candidates had also consulted their astrologers before filing the nomination papers. Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa reached the office of Returning Officer at about 12.45. However, he waited till 1 pm to enter the office to file the papers, allegedly as per the advice of his astrologer.


Dancing to parties’ tune
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 23
As the Assembly elections draw near, small-time singers and dancers are in a great demand, especially from political parties eager to entertain the public with peppy numbers.

As big names like Sabjit Cheema, Harbhajan Mann and Malkit Singh generally avoid performing in rural areas, these small-time singers are preferred to draw village folks.

"This time dancers are also in demand. Dressed in gorgeous costumes, they attract the public with their performances, mostly based on folksongs and parodies on film songs," says Mr Jatinder Pal Singh of Raja No. 1, a Ludhiana-based musical group.

Sensing the demand, these singers and dancers have hiked their charges. While on a normal day one can hire these artistes for Rs 1,000, during election time one has to shell out at least Rs 1,500 per day on a person.

"It's only the Congress that has gone overboard in its drive to book stage artistes. The Akalis are usually hiring dhadis (ballad singers). The dhadis are supposed to spread the message of religion and make people aware of the sacrifices made by freedom fighters and saints. However, during elections, they turn towards political parties," says Mr Nirmal Singh of a musical group in Jalandhar.

Sources said parties were also banking on celebrity look-alikes during rallies.

“Parties are looking for duplicates of popular actors like Govinda, Johnny Lever, Rajesh Khanna and Shah Rukh Khan, besides those of cricketers like Virender Sehwag to woo the crowds.”

Pammi Bhai, a Patiala-based singer, said top singers preferred to avoid political rallies, particularly during the elections. Moreover, their rate was too high, ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

The sources said some politicians preferred pop songs on praise. Some singers like Gill Hardeep and Raj Brar had launched cassettes on elections. 


Cong nominee files papers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 23
Exhibiting his show of strength by a huge procession of party workers and supporters, sitting Congress MLA Ramesh Dutt Sharma today filed his nomination papers from the Anandpur Sahib Assembly constituency here before the Returning Officer, Ropar, Mr Parminder Singh Gill, this evening.

Although Sharma had one vehicle but his supporters, while passing in front of the Deputy Commissioner Office and entering the court complex, raised slogans. In addition to it, the room of the Returning officer was jampacked with his supporters when Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma filed the nominations papers.

As per model code of conduct only limited persons can accompany the candidate in the Returning Officer room. The Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, Mr Alok Shekhar, has also sought a report in this regard from the Returning Officer.

Mr Sharma is contesting elections fourth time from this constituency. In his affidavit, Mr Sharma declared his assets that included Rs 20,000 cash, his wife having cash of Rs 50, 000, fixed deposits of Rs 3.7 lakh, FDs with his wife worth Rs 45,000. He owned Qualis car, jewellery worth 45,000 and jewellery with his wife Rs 1.35 lakh, non-agricultural land worth Rs 3.80 lakh and house valued at Rs 6.25 lakh. While mentioning about his qualification, he said he had studied up to class X.

Earlier, Mr Sharma addressed a rally at Ram Lila ground. Other joined the rally included Municipal Council president Ashok Bahi, zila parishad chairman Kuldeep Kaur, Congress candidate from Hoshiarpur Charanjit Singh Channi.


Cong candidate files nomination
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 23
Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, Congress candidate from the Rajpura Assembly constituency, today filed his nomination papers at the office of the SDM, Mr APS Virk, who is also the Returning Officer.

Earlier, addressing a rally before filing nominations, the Patiala MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, claimed that only the Congress could provide a stable government and continue the pace of development built during the past about five years.

The Akalis, she alleged,were going to the polls without any issue and people had not forgotten the "misrule" of the SAD-BJP regime. Mr Kamboj alleged that Akalis had always disrupted the development process in the state. He urged the people to vote for development and not be misled by the false propaganda of the opposition.

Prominent among those present were Mr Rajinder Raja, president of the local Municipal Council, Mr Gurbakash Singh, chairman of the Block Samiti, and Mr Karam Singh, chairman of the Market Committee.


317 more file nominations

Chandigarh, January 23
As many as 317 candidates today filed their nominations for the Assembly elections. They include stalwarts of the ruling Congress and the Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).

Among those who filed their papers were Pradesh Congress Committee president Shamsher Singh Dullo (Khanna), Congress ministers Partap Singh Bajwa (Kahnuwan), Tripat Rajinder Singh (Qadian), Fateh Jang Bajwa (Sri Hargobindpur), Gurkanwal Kaur (Jalandhar Cantonment), Avtar Henry (Jalandhar North) and Harnam Dass Johar (Ludhiana West).

For the SAD, former ministers Nirmal Singh Kahlon (Fatehgarh Churian), Sucha Singh Langah (Dhariwal), Upinderjit Kaur (Adampur) and Bibi Jagir Kaur (Bholath) were among those who filed their papers. — TNS


Mann files papers as Independent
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 23
Tarlochan Singh Mann today filed his nomination papers from the Kharar constituency as an Independent candidate. Before coming to Mohali to file his papers he held a rally at Kharar.

He came to the town accompanied by a large number of supporters, including his wife Kulwant Kaur, who filed the nomination papers as a covering candidate. Joginder Kaur Sahota, a resident of Kharar, also filed her nomination papers as a candidate representing SAD (Mann).


Clueless, Elephant in trouble
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 23
Factionalism within the BSP, ouster of its senior leaders, death of party founder and stalwart Kanshi Ram and its resultant downfall is likely to prove advantageous to the Congress in the Doaba region.

All prominent leaders, including Mr Harbhajan Lakha, Mr Shingara Ram Shaungara, Mr Devi Dass Nahar and Mr Pawan Tinu, have left the BSP to form their own groups. Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri is the only prominent leader staying with the BSP.

It is learnt that the party do not have candidates to field from many seats, unlike in previous elections when there used to be a scramble among BSP workers to get ticket.

The situation has reversed for the party despite the fact that its president Mayawati and general secretary Narinder Kashyap have paid several visits to the region in the past few months.

Mr Tinu, former district general secretary and strong candidate from the Jalandhar South constituency, was expelled soon after the party chief's visit here on November 30. He has fielded four of his candidates though he is yet to announce his own candidature.

Two other prominent leaders of the party are now with the SAD (B). Mr Avinash Chander, SC leader who had fought for the party from Kartarpur last time, is now contesting as a SAD (B) candidate. Mr Mohan Lal, who fought on the BSP ticket last time from Banga, is now an Akali nominee.

The BSP had a very strong hold in the region, especially around 1992 when it won four seats here. In other elections, too, party candidates were at the second or third position on many seats here. Even till last year, the BSP had been a major threat for the Congress as it used to grab many of its votes, benefiting the Akalis. However, this time the situation seems to be otherwise, said former Congress MP, Mr Umrao Singh.

Barring a few seats, including Jalandhar Central, Lohian, Kapurthala and Sultanpur, most other constituencies have a huge Dalit vote bank.


‘Candidates must refrain from defacing public property’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 23
Defacement of public property by the candidates will not be allowed during the Punjab Assembly elections in the district.
Orders to this effect were given by the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer, Mr Tejveer Singh. He said no buildings owned by the government, municipal councils and village panchayats could be used to put up banners, posters, flags or hoardings. These could be put up only on private buildings and that too only after obtaining a written permission for the same from owners.

It has also been mandatory under Section 127-A of the Representation of the People Act that all matter got printed by the candidates in connection with the elections should have the name of the printer and publisher.

It has also been directed by the Deputy Commissioner that permission to use every vehicle during the elections would have to be taken from the Returning Officer concerned which would have to be pasted on the front wind screen. Vehicles being plied without the required permission would be impounded by the police.

The candidates would also have to take permission for the use of loudspeakers from the authorities concerned and the same would be allowed only from 6 am to 10 pm. They would have to furnish poll expenses from the day they filed their nomination papers. Government employees have also been asked not to take part in political activities.


Defections galore on CM’s turf
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
Despite the fact that Patiala is the home turf of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his wife and MP Preneet Kaur, the maximum number of defections by political bigwigs has been from this very part of the state.

Though a few defections, including those by sitting MLA Nirmal Singh Shatrana and Mr Kulwinder Singh Lovely, who was president of the Youth Akali Dal, have taken place in the SAD, the Congress has failed to make the required dent in the SAD hold in the area.


Six quit as chairperson

CHANDIGARH: Six Congress candidates for the Assembly elections resigned as chairperson of various Punjab Government organisations on Tuesday to avoid any technical hindrance regarding scrutiny of their nomination papers. — TNS

Dhingra to contest as Independent

AMRITSAR: Mr Joginder Pal Dhingra, district Congress chief, has announced to contest as an Independent from the Amritsar North constituency against party nominee Jugal Kishore Sharma, who is seeking re-election. — TNS

Badal pacifies rebel

TARN TARAN: Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, on Tuesday pacified Mrs Gian Kaur, an Akali worker who had threatened to file her nomination as an Independent from the Valtoha constituency. — TNS


Experts dwell on aspects of Ramayana
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
Prof S. Sahay, former Pro Vice-Chancellor, Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, today said concerted efforts were needed to understand the innumerable variations and perennial power of Ramayana by those nations of Asia that shared the epic.

In his keynote address delivered on the two-day international seminar organised by the Department of Maharishi Valmiki Chair, Punjabi University, in association with the Central Valmiki Sabha (International), UK, on “Re-telling the Ramayana in Sanskrit and other languages”, he said work on Ramayana was being carried out in various languages and dialects in different parts of the world.

He said Ramayana had been re-written, recited, sculpted and performed in foreign lands in different ways for centuries together. He added that the event had brought the epic-sharing nations of Asia on a single platform. Professor Sahay presented systematic and in-depth study of the re-telling process of Ramayana.

Earlier, Prof B.S. Kumar, former Vice-Chancellor, KSD Sanskrit University, Darbhanga, delivered the inaugural address.

Describing Ramayana an the epic of people, he said it was considered the “Bible of Asia”.

In his presidential remarks, Faquir Chand Sahota, president, Central Valmiki Sabha (International) UK, thanked the community for its continuous support to the Central Valmik Sabha.

He said Ramayana belonged to every body as it had enlightened the entire world.

Dr Ved Kumari Ghai, former Professor of Sanskrit, Jammu, was the guest of honour.

A publication, “Maharishi Valmiki ka Shastar Gyan”, edited by Dr Ravinder Kaur, Head, Maharishi Valmiki Chair, was released and 12 out of the 19 writers of the book were honoured in the seminar.

Around 80 members of the Central Valmiki Sabha from various parts of the world participated in the event.

The scholars presented their research papers in technical session in the afternoon.

Dr Sucha Singh Gill, Dean Academic Affairs, presented a vote of thanks.


Man admits to wife’s murder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
The police today arrested three persons - Saudagar Singh, Yadavindar Singh and Tarsem Singh - from a Maruti car (CH-01P-5867) near NIS Chowk and seized a .32 revolver with six live cartridges.

On interrogation, Saudagar Singh admitted to having killed his wife Pooja, alias Pallavi, with the revolver on January 13, when she was going with her parents toward subji mandi in Ragho Majra.

A case had been registered under Section 302, IPC, and various Sections of the Arms Act at the Kotwali Police the day Pooja had been murdered.

The accused said he had purchased the revolver from Manoj Kumar, alias Moni.

The accused were produced in a local court by the police.


Cops rescue kidnapped boy; one held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 23
The police has solved the kidnapping of a son of a merchant from Mandi Gobindgarh within hours with the arrest of a former militant and recovered the boy from his custody. His four accomplices managed to flee. The police has seized a pistol from him and registered a case.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Randhawa, DIG Patiala range, said last night at about 10.30 pm, Darshan Lal, who was running a karyana shop at Mandi Gobindgarh lodged a complaint with the police that five persons had come in an Indica car to his shop and kidnapped his son Munish Kumar. He also told the police that after some time, he got a call from them and they demanded Rs.40 lakh to release his son and threatened to eliminate him, if he had failed to pay.

The DIG said a team, headed by a DSP, raided the houses of Prem Pal Singh, former militant and resident of Cheema Colony, Bassi Pathana, and succeeded in recovering the kidnapped boy from his custody.

The SSP said Prem Pal Singh was involved in the attack on Mr. A.P.Pandey in 1985, the then SSP of Ludhiana. He was convicted in that case and was sentenced for 10 years. He said the police had seized a pistol from him. He said his accomplices had been identified and would be arrested soon.


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