Aaj ka crorepati, kal ka MLA
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

They may be hugely wealthy but they still want more cash – or rather cash in on the clout they enjoy to enter the portals of the Vidhan Sabha.

Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, the Congress candidate from Nakodar, leads the pack of the super rich who have entered the electoral fray. He has declared assets worthy over Rs 17 crore. He is closely followed by Mr Sarbjit Singh Makkar, the SAD-BJP candidate from Adampur, who owns property worth Rs 14 crore.

Surprisingly, Mr Makkar’s assets are more than the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s assets. Mr Badal’s assets are below Rs 9 crore and he does not even own a car in his name although he has been the Chief Minister thrice.

Mr Makkar’s main rival, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Lally of the Congress, too lives up to his tag of ‘royalty’ and has declared assets and property worth Rs 6 crore. He possesses Rs 1.5 lakh in cash while his wife has Rs 1 lakh in good old currency notes.

In contrast, the Congress Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has declared that he possesses just Rs 15,000 in cash.

Mr Avtar Henry of the Congress, who is known for his high life, has declared material assets worth close to Rs 4 crore. He has two cars, 27 trucks and jewellery worth Rs 40 lakh. His rival, Mr K.D. Bhandari of the BJP, does not have a car.

Mr Manorajan Kalia also has assets worth more than Rs 1 crore, while his rival Mr Tejinder Singh Bittu (Congress) has assets worth Rs 1 crore.

Mr Bittu has always been in the news for his style of working as Chairman, Jalandhar Improvement Trust.

Recently, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, General Secretary, SAD, alleged that Mr Bittu had illegally leased out a five-acre plot in the city to the Dashmesh Education Trust being chaired by CM’s media adviser, Mr B.I.S. Chahal.

Mr Badal alleged that Mr Bittu also allotted sites for five petrol pumps to his favourites, one of whom was the relative of Mr A.P. Pandey, DGP (Prisons), and the other being his own relatives.

Even the Congress MLA from Jalandhar (Central), Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, said the money power played an important role in replacing him.

Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, the SAD candidate from Nakodar, declares his property is worth Rs 9 crore. His son, Mr Gurpreet Wadal, who has filed papers as covering candidate, has declared material assets worth Rs 8 crore.

Chaudhry Jagjit Singh, who has been in the thick of controversies following allegations of misuse of office, claims property worth close to Rs 2.25 crore, Rs 8 lakh in fixed deposits and jewellery worth more than Rs 4.5 lakh. The ‘poor’ rich man owns one car — a tumbled down model of Contessa that has been out of production for a decade.

Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, the Congress candidate from Jalandhar (South), owns assets worth Rs 3 crore and owes Rs 1.25 lakh as loan from Punjab Land Mortgage Bank, Kapurthala.

Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, who donned political mantle and is contesting from Jalandhar (South), also does not own any car but owns jewellery worth Rs 3.25 lakh. She owns property worth Rs 3.5 crore.

Her rival, Mr Jagbir Singh Brar (SAD), who is the new entrant to the politics, also owns assets less than Ms Gurkanwal Kaur. His assets are worth Rs 1 crore.



Kala rides a “gadda”
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Contrary to the bigwig politicians, Mr Parminder Singh Kala, the Lok Janshakti Party candidate from the Jalandhar (Central) constituency, reached the office of the Returning Officer to file papers on a gadda (bullock-cart).

Explaining his preference for the bullock-cart, he said: “The hike in the prices of petrol and diesel is making it difficult for the small fries like me to display money power by riding luxury cars.

The gadda is a good mode of transportation and, moreover, it does not occupy much parking space and is environment friendly.

The government should provide gaddas and tongas to its officials and ministers to conserve the fossil fuel. This would reduce accidents.

“All major political parties are playing with sentiments of the voters on communal and caste basis, but we are mobilising the voters to save the planet from pollution and stand against rising corruption, unemployment and prices.

Onions and cereals are no more a commodity for the common man. The banks should offer loans to purchase grocery and petrol. Using a car is a bigger problem than buying it. I will work for sustainable development,” he asserted.



Canvassing a blessing for chai and rehriwalas
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Public is suffering a lot due to traffic hazards, noise pollution and nuisance created by the hundreds of supporters of different candidates when they come to file their nomination papers with their respective returning officers nowadays.

On the contrary, the crowd gathered by the candidates is emerging as blessing for the chai, rehri and paan walas located on district administration (DAC) as their sale has shot up to more than triple these days.

Mr. Anil Kumar Mishra, running a tea kiosk on DAC road, said he used to sell 40 to 50 cups of tea daily whereas now his sale shot up to 250 to 300 cups as several supporters of different candidates usually took tea when their candidates went inside DAC to file their papers.

Actually, the offices of five of total ten ROs of the district are situated in the DAC.

While the work of filing nomination papers was started with the issuance of the notification on January 18 only, most of the candidates began filing their papers from Tuesday as several candidates considered it lucky to file their papers on Basant Panchmi day.

While the work of filing nomination papers will end tomorrow yet joyous Mishra, who hails from Kanpur in UP, said the work of filing the nomination papers should continue throughout the year as it would benefit the poor sellers of the DAC road. Same is the case with Sanjay, who runs his Classic Pan Shop, opposite the DAC complex. He said his daily sale of cigarettes and paan had been of just Rs 1,000 a day which now shot upto over Rs 3,000 a day.

The sale of a couple of dhabe and rehri walas selling chhole and kulche-bhature has also risen suddenly to three and in some cases even four times. 



Cycling for votes
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Mr Tarsem Peter, a labour leader and CPI (ML) candidate, stands out amongst other politicians. Instead of cavalcades of luxury cars, he treaded a distance of 42 km on cycle along with his supporters to file his nominations from the Nurmahl constituency.

Not that Peter and his supporters could not afford cars or vehicles like other candidates, but this freak sojourn by Peter was aimed at enlightening political bigwigs about the common man’s problems like unchecked price hike, unemployment, displacement, discrimination and poor state of the Public Distribution System.

“Besides politicians, I also want to make the public aware about their predicament and to expose factors like globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation that have been playing havoc with their already tormented lives. All the way from my native place, Mehatpur, I organised nukkad meetings where I apprised people about my feeling and opinions. Moreover, I want to show it to big politicians that they can save a lots of public money by adopting cycle as a mode of campaign. Do they not want to remain in touch with people at ground level?” questioned Mr Peter.

Mr Peter, who is also the president of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, left his home at Mehatpur along with his supporters, who were also on cycles to reach Nurmahl at around 12.30 pm to file his papers on the last day of filing of nominations on Thursday. 



MC earmarks sites for poll rallies

The Municipal Corporation of Jalandhar has pulled up its socks by earmarking 22 sites for holding any political rallies for the Assembly elections.

The MC Commissioner, Mr S.S. Johl, in an order passed on Thursday said the political parties could not use any other public site for the purpose.

For Jalandhar (Central), the designated sites are: Open space in Burlton Park, Sant Nagar Park, Chandan Nagar Park, Bohar Wala Park on the Preet Nagar road and Nehru Garden. For Jalandhar (North), the rallies can be held MC Children Park, backside Sodal Mandir, Tubewell Park in Guru Amar Dass Colony, 2 marla space in the same colony, Sodal, near Nivia Sports, and Industrial area, near Police Chowki 1.

For Jalandhar (South), the areas are Model House in front of temple, Budhamal Ground in Bhargo Camp, Dusehra Park in Basti Shiekh, Kaypee Stadium, near Mithapur, and 120 feet road. Jalandhar (Cantonment) candidates will be allowed to hold rallies opposite Chhoti Bardari Market on the Garha road, Master Tar Singh Nagar Park and Defence Colony Park on backside of Gurdwara. — TNS



Chaos, thy name is Jalandhar
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

The city, once proud of its civic sense, progressive outlook and debonair residents, is fast degenerating into an urban nightmare. Be it traffic congestion, encroachments on public property, air or water pollution or drug addiction, the city’s cup of woes is brimming over.

The most striking feature of the city is its complete traffic mismanagement with vehicles of all hues and sizes having almost a free run on the roads. To make matters worse, traffic cops watch in sheer helplessness as if their senses have been numbed by the never-ending din.

There are few parking lots and no one seems to be missing them either. Parking is done on anywhere-you-find-a-space basis and scant regard is paid to the convenience of pedestrians and other lesser mortals.

The otherwise broad roads look like a thin patch, thanks to the messy parking.

In fact, the city’s vehicular traffic is rising menacingly, thus adding to air pollution. As per district administration’s records, the number of registered vehicles were 2,19,444 in 2003. Given the craze for luxury vehicles in this dollar-rich region, the number is bloating by thousands. The city is bursting at its seams to accommodate this prosperity.

“The traffic police cannot do much for the simple fact that infrastructure is very poor. We have beefed up the traffic police by 40 per cent and tried to dilute the mess, but beyond a point, it is simply not possible. Till the city gets flyovers, its arteries will remain clogged,” says the SSP, Jalandhar, Mr Naunihal Singh.

How battered the city environment is can be gauged from the fact that its population as per 2001 census was about 20 lakh and number of factories was nearly 2000. Both the statistics have only gone north, thus asking for a quick redress of the situation.

The Municipal Corporation and other authorities concerned are virtually sleeping over a multitude of violations, whether it is encroachment on public property by traders, unsafe by-the-roadside food outlets, rehri-walahs selling spurious goods or smoking at public places to name a few.

Youth here are catching up with their Punjabi brethren in getting hooked to drugs.

The district villages are a safe haven for those brewing illicit liquor and fast emerging as transit points for drug peddlers. The police has upped its vigil but the ever-innovative Jalandhari youth is one step ahead.

“The reason behind drug addiction is simple: Plenty of NRI money, no social awareness and poor rehabilitation programmes,” says the SSP.

To sum up, behind the dollar-and-pound glitter, the city only has litter as its perpetual embellishment. 



Just a thought
Bluff and bluster
R. Jaikrishan

When we say Punjab is prosperous, our thoughts go to the top five families and the 30 more who have been struggling to gain the top slot through matrimonial alliances with the top five. These families control the state’s organs, agriculture, trade and industry.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, belongs to the top five families. This IIT alumnus is an industrialist with a vision which didn’t find many takers in the SAD of Badals.

He finds it ridiculous to open model schools in villages. Instead , he says,the state should focus on technical education, increase the minimum wage and arrest the flight of industry from the state.

Being an old Akali he has united three Akali groups—1920, Longowal and Majha -and made this new Akali incarnation part of the Third Front which has both the mainstream Left parties and V.P.Singh’s Jan Morcha. His endeavour to project an alternative to the SAD(Badal) and BJP alliance and the Congress is gaining support.

Voters, especially the youth, are, however, apprehensive whether or not the Front will make any political impact or even stay together after the poll.

Ironically, while Ravi Inder Singh wants to put Punjab on the road to industrialization so that the trained workers get good wages, an ITI-trained welder Kashmira Singh has failed to get a job even at a low wage. He has pulled a rickshaw in Kapurthala, lifted loads in cold storages and worked as a farm hand to eke out a living.

The plight of people like him who are denied even the opportunity of earning a livelihood moved him closer to the Left wing politics.

He has already succeeded getting a case registered against the Numberdar of Dhirpur in Kartarpur sub-tehsil under the SC\ST Prevention of Atrocities Act,1980.

He has also led the people of his village ,Ghugshore, and nearby villages of Patarkalan and Dhirpur in Kartarpur sub-tehsil to get the titles of the residential plots allotted under the Indira Aawas Yojana in 1972 -74 registered; and stirred a housewives’ agitation for repealing domestic power bills.

He has also become the CPI(ML)(New Democracy) candidate from Kartarpur.

He cycled down with his supporters to file his nomination papers on Tuesday, but found his name missing from the voter’s list.

He then spent considerable time and energy to get his name restored in the voter’s list.

Kashmira ,27, is a father of two and the district general secretary of the Pendu Mazdoor Union . It is his first date against money and muscle power in the Vidhan Sabha elections.

Inspired by the Sikh gurus, he prefers to die fighting for people’s rights rather than be a drug addict.

While Kashmira Singh feels that the assertion of rights would prepare people for an equitable system, Deputy Commissioner Nawan Shahr, Krishan Kumar, is also busy enforcing the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct to ensure affair poll.

He has filed case against political parties for defacing public property, using public places without permission for political meetings and impounded vehicles used by candidates.

All these steps have disciplined the candidates to such an extent that sitting MLA Prakash Singh came to file his nomination papers without the usual bandwagon. Even Kariha ,his Akali challenger ,came to file his papers profusely garlanded along with his five supporters.

Bit by bit, one person to the next, the uncouth might of the powerful is being challenged all around us.

It is not a powerful boisterous movement yet but in its own quiet way a definite step forward in the right direction.



Young World
Republic Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

The Republic Day was celebrated at Seth Hukum Chand SD Public Senior Secondary School. Students participated in a cultural show which included group songs, group dance and speeches. Concluding speech was delivered by the Principal, Ms Manju Arora.

Inter-college fest

The Postgraduate Department of Commerce and Business Administration of Lyallpur Khalsa College is organising annual inter-college academic and cultural festival on February 27 and 28. Contests for quiz, group discussion, extempore, chorography and western group song will be organised on the first day. The second day will see contests for ad-mad show, group dance and mimicry.

Yoga championship

The Punjab State Open Championship was organised at the Red Cross Bhavan by the Divine Yoga Centre Society. Nearly 32 schools and colleges from Punjab participated in the event. DAV Public School won various prizes, including the first position in 12-15 age group (girls), second position in 12-18 age group (boys), second position in age group 8-12 age group (girls), second in 8-12 age group (boys).

The students of the same school participating in the semi-final round of NASA project have left for Gurgaon. Eight teams from all over Asia are participating in the contest of which five teams will be taking part in the final round to be held at NASA.

The team members include Milan Singh, Saumya Vij, Puneet, Sargam, Harneet, Navdeep, Pawan Kumar, Shrey Jain, Bhawandeep Singh, Bhuvnesh Sharma, Devshmi Chauhan and Sagar Bhardwaj.

Quiz contest

An inter-house quiz competition was organised at Sanskriti KMV School. Students from the four houses, Amber, Avni, Pawan and Pawak, participated in the contest. Questions were asked on current affairs, audio-visual, science, sports and arts. Avni House won the contest.



‘Fine may be imposed for denying information’
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

If any public servant refuses to take application seeking any information without any valid reason or provides wrong information intentionally under right to information (RTI) Act, a fine of Rs 250 per day with the maximum limit of Rs 25,000 may be imposed on him.

This was stated by the Chairman of Punjab and Haryana Bar Council, Mr Navtej Singh Toor, while addressing the gathering in a seminar organised by the Anti-Corruption Cell of Helpline on the ‘Role of RTI Act in eradicating corruption’ in the city the other day.

Mr Navtej Singh further said while there was a nominal fee for getting information under the RTI Act, there was also a provision to provide free-of-cost information to the persons belonging to below poverty line (BPL) families.

As many as 18 departments had been excluded from the purview of the RTI Act, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, a former MC, Mr Kamaljeet Singh Bhatia, said the RTI Act might provide help in eradicating corruption by getting required information for getting done day to day work without any hindrance.

The national and state presidents of the cell, Mr Gurjeet Singh and Mr Pankaj Sarpal, respectively, highlighted the importance of the RTI Act.



Award for BSF DIG
Tribune News Service

Mr Mohinder Lal Wasan, DIG, BSF (Frontier Headquarters), Punjab, will be conferred upon President Police Award by the President for his distinguished services on the occasion of Republic Day. Mr Wassan has joined the force as Assistant Commandant. He has commanded troops at borders of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |