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16 poll observers appointed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The Election Commission of India has appointed 16 observers, including four expenditure observers, to supervise the election in the 12 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Ludhiana district, informed Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, District Election officer-cum- Deputy Commissioner .

He said all the observers had been provided with a landline telephone at the place of their stay in the district during the elections. Any person, who wanted to contact the observer concerned in connection with any kind of violation of the Model Code of Conduct could contact on the given phone or meet in person at the place of their stay, he added.

Giving details of the observers, he said they can be contacted at the following numbers and address: 53- Jagroan constituency: Mr Pardeep Kumar IAS, phone number 2450050 PSEB, Rest House Ludhiana, room number 5; 54- Raikot Mr Satya Brata Sahu, IAS, phone number 2553023 Verka Milk Plant, room number 2; 55- Dakha Mr Raj Kumar, IAS, phone number 2775208 Circuit House, room number 6; 58- Ludhiana West Mr Mohammad Iftikharuddin, IAS, phone number 2775210 Circuit House, room number 3; 60- Ludhiana Rural Mr Laima Chozah, IAS, phone number 2423001 Circuit House, room number 7; 63- Samrala Mr Dipak Ghosh, IAS, 95-1628-26700 Neelon Rest House Samrala in room number 202; 64- Khanna Mr Shambhu Nath Shukla, IAS, phone number 95-1628-220312 PWD Rest House Khanna in room number 1; 61- Payal Mr Jeetendra Kumar Sinha, IAS, phone number 95-1628-224121 PWD Rest House Khanna in room Number 2; 56- Qila Raipur Mr Baidyanath Prasad, IAS, phone number 2450060 PSEB Rest House Ludhiana in room number 6; 57- Ludhiana North Mr Badri Parsad Nilaratna IAS (yet to arrive); 59- Ludhiana East Mr Anil Kumar Sachan, IAS, phone number 2553021 Verka Milk Plant Ludhiana in room number 1 and for 62- Koom Kalan Mr Kailash Kumar Khandewal IAS phone number 2450130 PSEB Rest House Ludhiana in room number 3.

Referring to the observers relating to expenditures, Mr Gupta informed that for 57,58,59 constituencies Mr Shrawan Lal Meena IC and CES phone number 2775211 Circuit House Ludhiana room number 4; for 60,62,63 Constituencies, Mr K. Shyamsunder IC and CES phone number 2775209 Circuit House Ludhiana in room 5; for 53,54,55 constituencies Mr R.C. Meena IRS phone number 2775012 Circuit House Ludhiana room number 8 and for 56,61,64 constituencies Mr Pullela Nageswara Rao IC and CES phone 2423003 Circuit House Ludhiana in room number 9.

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Pandey rubbishes charges of inaccessibility
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
Refuting allegations of inaccessibility, Mr Rakesh Pandey, sitting MLA and Congress candidate from Ludhiana North, yesterday claimed that he had been among the people of his constituency and they loved him.

Mr Pandey issued the statement as his opponent and BJP candidate Harish Bedi stated the day before that he was fighting a political battle against an elusive leader, who had never been seen in the area.

Alleging that his opponents had been indulging in mudslinging to hog headlines, Mr Pandey said he did not need to respond to their allegations, but the mandate would be the only answer for him.

He claimed that it was his familiarity and development in the area for which he had been a winning candidate for the last four consecutive terms.

“Whosoever contested against me was defeated. This is how my people support me”, he said.

The sitting MLA also said the people levelling allegations of lack of development in the area could make a round and find out the truth at the ground level.

He said there were no roads, water supply lines or sewerage in his area during the last many years, but due to his efforts, all roads had been metalled and every household had access to potable water.

“If people say I have done nothing, I will take responsibility. I do not care for remarks of opponents”, he said.

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Rejected candidates prefer relaxing to campaigning
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
Till the tickets were not allotted by the Congress, the so called ‘would be’ candidates would proclaim themselves to be the ‘only winning candidates’. With the tickets allotted mostly to sitting candidates only, all these ‘winning candidates’ of the Congress seem to have vanished away into oblivion.

Even as the state prepares for Assembly elections, they are not actively involved in it. They seemed to have walked out of the race in the first round only.

These leaders include the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, an aspirant for Ludhiana (Rural), the District Congress Committee president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, who wanted to contest from Ludhiana West, Dr Manjit Kaur, the daughter of former President, Giani Zail Singh, Deputy Mayor Sushil Gupta, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee secretary, Mr Parminder Mehta (both aspirants of Ludhiana East) and many others.

Although some of them are marking a formal presence during the filing of nomination papers by the candidates, they have practically become inactive. One of these upset and dejected aspirants remarked, "What do you or anybody else expect of us ? We have been knocked out in the first round only, thus throwing us out of the game".

While a few like the local Councillor, Mr Madan Lal Bagga, have decided to go ahead independently, rebelling against the party. Many others have reconciled to their fate and submitted to the party decision. The party can only take action against those who are fighting or working against the official candidates. But it can hardly do anything about those who prefer to stay at home and not work for the party and the candidates.

The party has already pressed into service some senior leaders to motivate and persuade these "upset candidates" to work for the party. The secretary All-India Congress Committee, Mr Manish Tewari, recently concluded a whirlwind tour of the city and surrounding areas to persuade these leaders to join the campaign. While some of them agreed to his advice, although reluctantly, some others are still maintaining a distance.

Mr Tewari said, most of these leaders were expected to join the campaign in a few days. He said, their position also needed to be viewed objectively. He pointed out that they worked hard and lobbied for about three weeks moving here and there. But all could not get the ticket. Some of them could be upset. "But that is quite human and gradually they are coming out for campaigning", he said, after meeting and motivating several of them.

One of the aspirants admitted frankly, "Let us rest and relax for a while and those who got the tickets work and win".

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Shot in arm for Garcha
Show of solidarity by activists of 80 villages
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 25
SAD activists from about 80 villages of the Kila Raipur Assembly segment left for Ludhiana to show solidarity with the party candidate at the filing of nomination papers today.

Senior leaders accompanying the supporters claimed that their candidate would win by a wide margin.

Addressing the gathering at Jodhan near here leaders, including Mr Raghbir Singh Saharanmajra, member, SGPC, Dr Jarnail Singh Narangwal, Mr Sukhwant Singh Tillu director and Mr Jagjit Singh Ghungrana, former Chairman, Punjab Agro Corporation, claimed that people had realised that the Congress leaders were trying to allure them by making false promises and they would not fall prey to false propaganda.

"Having recognised the role played by Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha in development of the area, the voters have made up their mind to bring him back to power and keep the pace of development going on," said the speakers.

Paying gratitude for showing solidarity with him, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha assured that he would do his best to serve the people of the area.

Mr Mann Singh Garcha, SVP, Major Singh Lehra, Mr Rajinder Singh Nangal and Harbans Singh Goplapur spoke on the occasion.

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Dharamsot launches campaign
Bhushan Sood

Amloh, January 25
Congress candidate Sadhu Singh Dharamsot from Amloh covered 19 villages today during his election campaign and addressed a meeting at Bhadal Thua village.

Three activists of the SAD — Kulvir Singh, Randhir Singh and Harpreet Singh — have declared to join the Congress along with their supporters.

At another brief function at Amloh, state chief of Dr Ambedkar mission Gurdev Singh Marara joined the Congress and declared his decision to support Mr Dharamsot.

District Congress chief Lakhvider Singh Rai nominated him as district general secretary of the party. Mr Lal Singh Tohra, state secretary, SC department, welcomed the decision.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Dharamsot said that the voters were aware of the tactics of the SAD to extend funds to put up BSP candidates to divide SC Congress votes.

He said the SAD had done nothing for the interests of the poor classes. No land will be allowed to be acquired against the wishes of the people, he said.

PPCC Chief Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo in the head election office of Mr Sadhu Singh said that the Congress after coming to power will form a committee to assess the economic condition of the people and frame policies for the uplift of poor sections of society irrespective of their castes.

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Dissidents vow to support Congress man
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 25
Mr Gurdeep Singh Bhaini, Congress candidate in the ensuing Assembly elections for the Jagraon constituency, has got a shot in the arm when different groups who had earlier revolted in the matter of allocation of the Congress ticket have come forward to support Mr Bhaini.

Mr Satinder Pal Singh Grewal, president, Block Congress, Jagraon, who belonged to the group of former minister Mr Darshan Singh Brar, Mr Raman Kumar, a close aid of Mr Manish Tiwari, secretary, All-India Congress Committee and Mr Rajiv Jhanji, chairman, Market Committee, Sidhwan Bet, declared to support Mr Bhaini.They stated that after the allocation of the Congress ticket to Mr Bhaini, there was no rivalry left and declared to launch a campaign in his support.

Whereas, Mr Bhaini has begun his campaign in the villages and has criticised the SAD.

On the other hand, Mr Bhag Singh Malha, SAD candidate, has assured the elimination of corruption from government offices, if they were voted to power.

With the filing of 4 more nomination papers, the number of candidates contesting has risen to 16, which include, Gurdeep Singh Bhaini, Congress, Major Singh Bhaini as his covering candidate, Bhag Singh Malha SAD-BJP, Kamaljit Singh as the covering candidate, Gurdeep Singh Moti CPI, Bharpur Singh as the covering candidate, Inderjit Singh, CPI-ML, Vikram Pal, BSP(Mayawati) and Gurmail Singh, BSP(Ambedekar).

Ravinder Pal Singh,@ Raju, Jatinder Pal Singh, Narinder Singh, Harbans Singh, Dalip Singh, Rishi Dev are standing as independent candidates. Major Bhaini has also filed his nomination paper as an independent candidate.

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Secular thinkers offer platform for debate
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
Hailing the spirit exhibited by the two rival candidates from Ludhiana (West), Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, SAD-BJP nominee and Mr Harnam Dass Johar, the Congress candidate to have a debate in public, a non-government organisation has offered to host it on a common platform.

The Secular Thinkers Forum, led by a Bondli-based college lecturer, Mr Jagmohan Singh, has welcomed the step stating that the public in general and intelligentsia in particular has termed such debates as of paramount importance and a new milestone in the democratic process.

The offer comes in the wake of Mr Dhanda's invitation to Mr Johar to debate on development and his future plans about the constituency. The latter had accepted the challenge and said that he was ready for such a thing. Interestingly, both the candidates are lawyers by profession.

‘‘It would be a new step towards democracy if our leaders come together on the same platform so that people can listen to them, their policies and then decide about their franchise, ’’ said Mr Jagmohan.

He added that they could organise the debate from a neutral platform at Punjabi Bhavan here on a mutually agreed upon date and time with live telecast of the proceedings. Elaborating on the plans, Prof Jagmohan Singh revealed that the forum will play a neutral role. In organising the event with public cooperation in which each candidate will be given 40 minutes time slot to speak freely with another 40 minutes to respond to the questions of rival candidates and public.

‘‘We will approach not only Mr Dhanda and Mr Johar but other leaders also. They all can come in the same debate. ’’ he added.

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Probe against 3 for poll code violation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
Taking note of news reports regarding the violation of the model code of conduct by various candidates, district election officer Ashok Kumar Gupta has ordered a probe into three cases.

The Deputy Commissioner has ordered a probe into alleged violations by Congress candidate Malkiat Singh Dakha, SAD candidate Harish Rai Dhanda and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Gurmail Singh Pehlwan.

These candidates had caused traffic jams in front of the election office by bringing a large number of vehicles before filing their nomination papers and crowded election offices.

The BSP candidate from Ludhiana Rural brought hundreds of vehicles and two elephants when he went to file his nomination papers at the PUDA office on the Ferozepore Road yesterday.

Mr Dhanda had not only brought a large number of supporters to the election office, but had also taken a round of his constituency in a cavalcade while his supporters beat drums and danced.

The Congress candidate had also violated the model code of conduct by causing overcrowding at the returning officer’s office.

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Sharma backs Johar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The District Congress Committee Chief, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, who did not attend the ‘‘unity show’’ by Congress legislators a few days ago, announced his support for Mr Harnam Dass Johar, sitting MLA and Congress nominee from the Ludhiana West constituency yesterday.

His extending support to Mr Johar holds significance as Mr Sharma was also in the race for the ticket and was not seen in the unity show.

In his message to people, the DCC chief asked them to vote for Mr Johar.

He said the rank and file in the Congress at the district level would help him in campaigning.

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Johar seeks lawyers’ vote
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
Mr Harnam Dass Johar, a nominee of Congress from Ludhiana West Assembly segment today sought the votes of lawyers by visiting District Courts.

Senior leaders of Congress Legal Cell, Mr P D Sharma, the Chairman of local legal cell, Mr Dharmjit Singh Khera, Convenor-Mr Ashok Bhakri, Mr Kamaljit Sharma-Secretary, Mr B K Rampal said that they would ensure the victory of Mr Johar, as he had always helped the legal fraternity.

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2 ultrasound scan centres sealed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The Civil Surgeon, Dr Yash Pal Singla, who is also the appropriate district authority under the PNDT Act, along with Dr Reena Sandhu, District Family Welfare Officer, carried out intensive checking of ultrasound scan centres in the city and surrounding areas to ensure the strict compliance of provisions laid down under the relevant laws.

Giving this information here today, Dr Singla informed that ultrasound scan machine at Arora Neuro Centre in Civil Lines was permanently sealed as the scan centre was being run without seeking registration under the PNDT Act. The department had also sought legal opinion for registration of a criminal case against the defaulting institution.

Elsewhere in the city, Kooka Scan Centre in Udham Singh Nagar was sealed for one month after certain discrepancies in use of machine and maintenance of record under the PNDT Act, were found by the inspecting team.

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Railway pensioners irked at poor medical care
Threaten stir
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 25
Irked over lack of proper medical professionals, diagnostic facilities and life saving medicines at the Railway Hospital here, the Northern Railway Pensioners Welfare Association, representing thousands of retired railway employees, is flexing its muscles to launch an agitation which will include protest demonstrations and dharnas.

In memorandum submitted to the Director, Health, Railway Board, and senior officials of the Northern Railway, the association has pointed out that thousands of ailing railway pensioners, who are covered under the Retired Employees Liberalised Health Scheme (RELHS) are suffering due to lack of super-specialist doctors, modern diagnostic equipment and other needed facilities in the Railway Hospital here.

To add to the woes of the retired employees, more often than not, the medicines prescribed by private doctors for chronic and complicated health problems, are not available in the hospital and they have to make use of inferior alternative drugs.

Mr Sher Singh, chairman of the association, narrated the plight of the pensioners and maintained that even though they were eligible for free treatment, the members of RELHS, had to seek consultation from specialists at different private hospitals here at their own expense.

Moreover, the prevailing practice by the senior officials of the Railway Hospital of not referring patients to the local leading hospitals, has led to a situation where the patients have to pay for common tests like echocardiography, TMT, ultrasound and other laboratory examinations from their own pocket with no reimbursement being made for these expenses.

The association further alleged that at times, the ailing pensioners were referred to the Central Railway Hospital at New Delhi for advanced diagnostic tests and treatment which was a gross injustice to them since majority of such patients were not in a position to undertake arduous journey due to their poor health.

These pensioners would no longer take things lying down, Mr Sher Singh said if the railway authorities failed to take immediate steps for the upgradation of the Railway Hospital here, the association would be forced to launch an agitation, which would further extend to divisional and Central headquarters of the Railways at Ferozepur and New Delhi.

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‘Prioritise for leading stress-free life’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
Personality development guru P.S. Rathode says that prioritising issues is a must to lead a stress free and happy life. “Most times, people continue to suffer as they do not realise what is important for them,” he said while talking to the Ludhiana Tribune here yesterday.

Mr P.S. Rathore, a nationally acclaimed trainer of the Rathore Management Corporation, is in Ludhiana to hold his first-ever session with the city’s residents.

A master trainer in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), he specialises in fun based and experiential learning. Talking about his methodology, he said, “Through seminars and personality enhancement courses, I endeavour to help people shed their fears and limitations, accomplish their goals, create fulfilling relationships and transform lives.

Regarding NLP, he said it is an art and a science which helps us to understand how our brains processes the information which we receive from the outer world.

He said, ”The fear of being hurt and facing pain after failure stops people from taking that crucial step.”

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At the Crossroads
Beyond religion and politics

Ludhiana, January 25
In human life, religion and politics have played significant roles throughout the ages. Both of these have separate spheres but at times they tend to overlap each other. Religion can help temper the severity of politics but politics in the realm of religion can be devastating. Still the attitude of poets in regard to religion and politics tells a different story. It is rather baffling to understand as to why the great poets have not been able to reconcile themselves to the religious dogmas and political movements of their times. At times, they make fun of holier-than-thou persons and astute politicians.

Geoffrey Chaucer did not spare the monk, the prioress and the priest in his Preface to the Canterbury Tales. He had the perception of the fun in life, as such his humour was delightful and satire good-humoured. Likewise, John Dryden made fun of the over-ambitious politicians in his poems. He had been swayed by the political passions of the time and he resorted to poetical medium with splendid results. Alexander Pope, on his part, was unsparing in his comments on the politicians who needed some potion of wisdom — “Coffee makes the politician wise”.

Persian poets Hafiz Shirazi and Omar Khayyam had to face the scowl of the priestly class due to their declared love for the daughter of the grapevine. Hafiz was denied burial in the graveyard of the city and his body was interred at the outskirts. His love for the good things of life earned him the hatred of the extremists in religion and politics —

Faash migoum va'z gufta-e-khud dil shadam
Banda-e-ishkam va'z har do jahan azadam

(I express myself without any constraint and am happy on this count. I am the slave of love, so I am free from the rigours of both the worlds.)

Nearer home, Mir Taqi Mir was all the more outspoken in matters of religious import. He was annoyed when the people questioned him about the faith he adhered to. Contrary to their expectations, he told them that he had denounced Islam and resorted to a temple with tilak on his forehead —

Kashka khaincha dair mein baithha
kab ka tark Islam kiya

Mirza Ghalib could make frivolous comments on his religion even in trying circumstances. In 1857, he did not take interest in the political upheaval in Delhi, although he had been the mentor of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. Still he was summoned by a British army officer for interrogation as he had, in the recent past, links with the Red Fort. He was asked —

"Are you a Musalman?"

"Adha (half)."

"How so?"

"I take wine but shun pork."

Dr Mohammad Iqbal had been deeply immersed in the Muslim theology but could, at the same time, make fun of his religious leanings. In a couplet, he says that whenever he bends his head down to the earth for performing namaz, a voice reminds him of its futility, as he is in love with a statuesque figure —

Jo main sar bsajda huwa kabhi
to zameen se aane lagi sada
Tera dil to hai sanam-aashna
tujhe kya milega namaz mein

Faiz Ahmed Faiz had been a victim of political manoeuvres and religious intolerance all through his life. In the period of long exile from his country, he could not help saying —

Nissar main teri galion ke ai watan ke jahan
Chali hai rasm ke koi na sar uthha ke chale

(I am all praise for my homeland where one is forbidden to walk in the street with the head held high.)

But then in his poetic style, he makes an ironic comment on preachers of morality who always advise others to desist from worldly pleasures. Whenever he gets such a sermon, he spends that night at the gate of his beloved's street —

Huee hai hazrat-e-naseh se guftgu jis shab
Woh shab zaroor sare-kuay-yaar guzri hai.

— N.S. Tasneem

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