L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

PM’s rally draws poor response
Severe dressing down to DCC Chief
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
There were many red faces in the Congress after the alleged poor organisational skills of the District Congress Committee resulted in an average turnout at the rally of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here this noon.

Hoping to woo voters by cashing in on the clean image and huge popularity of the Prime Minister among the urban voters, the local unit reportedly did not marshall its resources properly to manage a decent show. The result was that only sections of the venue were full of people while others were mostly empty.

Such was the displeasure of the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, and AICC Secretary Manish Tewari that they reportedly gave a severe dressing down to DCC Chief Jagmohan Sharma in the presence of other office-bearers at a hotel in the city.

Mr Tewari is said to have blown his top and used harsh words to express his annoyance at the main organiser. He is said to have asked Mr Sharma why did he not inform him and the contesting candidates if he knew that he would be unable to manage a decent crowd a few days prior to the event.

He is said to have said that he would not have called the Prime Minister here if he knew that the party unit would not rise to the occasion. He was more riled by the fact that the party was fully capable of a huge show in the city.

The 12 party candidates, with the exception of Mr Tej Prakash Singh Payal who could not attend the event due to some urgent work, too were taken aback the average turnout and said that they were not asked by the DCC to bring their supporters and were informed that the city unit would manage the show on their own. As such most of them came with a few supporters only.

Senior leaders also said that given the capacity of the venue it would have been child's play to ask the 70 municipal ward incharges and elected party councillors to bring their supporters for the rally.

Admitting to an organisational blunder, the leaders said a huge presence at the rally would have sent a very positive signal at the voters, at least in the four largely urban constituencies of the district. Inter party rivalry, too, is said to be the reason for the poor show with the opponents of the DCC chief playing truant, they pointed out.



Punters, bookies making the best of elections
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
Candidates might be unsure of their fate in the forthcoming polls but punters and bookies are minting money on the likely outcome of the polls.

As per conservative estimates, money to the tune of Rs 200 crore is expected to change hands for those in this business.

"Business has already peaked with elections to take place shortly. Its a very busy time for us," a bookie told Ludhiana Tribune. For the uninitiated, the odds are against the Opposition for today, they point out.

The city, according to sources, has well off industrialists and professionals involved in betting. While a wealthy satta player puts at stake anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh in a day, it is the bookie who ultimately makes good money.

The industrial town has no shortage of those in this business with many of them having direct links to bookies in Delhi or Mumbai." The rates in most cases are decided from Delhi or Mumbai. Most of our business is done by word of mouth, on phones et al and is based on mutual trust," another bookie revealed.

The rates change everyday." More the certainty of a party or candidate to win, lesser the rate and vice-versa."

Sources reveal that while bookies take inputs from newspersons to determine trends, political candidates too keep regularly in touch with those in business as regular feedback from the satta market, which is believed to indicate credible position of parties.

Betting business in the city, which was at its peak around three years ago, got a setback after people lost heavily. Besides, the police also took a strict view of the same.

The business is still flourishing though the number of those involved in this trade has declined. Regular offices and infrastructure are being used by professionals and business men to conduct this trade, which fetches big moolah.

So far as cash delivery is concerned, it would take place after the final outcome." Till then it is only verbal transactions that take place." However, since bookies have regular clients, incidences of people backing out are few. "No one wants to ruin his credibility in this business. People rarely back out."



Women exempted from poll duties
Shirking staff gets warning
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
The District Election Officer has exempted all women from election duties. Over 600 women employees from various departments had been assigned duties.

"Taking a lenient view of the situation, we were considering exempting women staff from poll duties. We have managed to ensure sufficient staff strength for duties following which the decision was taken," said the District Election Officer, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta.

Apart from roping in block-level officers, additional staff have been assigned duties. Following the attendance reports after rehearsals yesterday, the Election Office found that sufficient staff was available.

Regarding bank employees, who have been complaining of excessive staff put on duties, resulting in hampering of public work, Mr Gupta said duties had been assigned only after due consultations with senior functionaries of respective banks.

Staff required to perform necessary services like cashiers etc were exempt and due consideration was given to genuine cases." We are open to making adjustments where it is necessary,” he added.

However, no lenient view shall be taken of those found absent during rehearsals that took place on January 31 and February 5. Asking such employees to join rehearsals that would again take place on February 9, the Deputy Commissioner said they should consider polling duties seriously in order to avoid any disciplinary action against them.

He also asked heads of various departments to make local arrangement at their levels to continue the necessary services concerning their departments.

Further, in a bid to prevent the misuse of electronic photo-identity cards (EPICs), the District Election Officer advised residents not to hand over their cards to any person.

"People should not hand over their cards to anyone. In case any person makes an enquiry regarding their EPICs and wants to see the same, he should be asked to produce his identity card. The card may be shown to an authorised government functionary but in no case should be handed over to anyone."

He said residents should report any cases of misuse to returning officers concerned so that an action could be taken in the direction.

"Neither the Election Commissioner nor the District Election Office has issued any kind of instructions to take EPICs from any voter. Hence people are advised toe exercise caution.'

Referring to the reports about the irregularities in EPICs, he said people should get the same corrected through block level officers or returning officers. Photography teams would be available in their respective offices till February 12 for corrections, the DC added.



Mudslinging disturbing peace: mandal chief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 6
Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani, President, Punjab Beopar Mandal, today appealed to the political parties and particularly to the Congress and to the Shiromini Akali Dal not to disturb peace of the state and to work in unison for the welfare of the state.

In a statement, Mr Jaitwani said that he was pained at the mudslinging being indulged in by the political parties which was polluting the peaceful atmosphere.

Mr Jaitwani maintained that the trade and industry had always sought peaceful atmosphere for the development and these could not progress without peaceful conditions. The state had already suffered much during the period of turmoil and the state could not afford another era of disturbance.

Mr Jaitwani posed a question to the major political parties that why they could not work unitedly for the welfare of the border state which had witnessed all-round decline in the production in the industry and agriculture. Also the living standards of the people had been affected badly.

He emphasised that in the interest of the Punjabis , the two major political parties need to work in harmony and they should not make personal attacks on the leaders.

Mr Jaitwani also said that it was a fact that the two political parties had failed to safeguard the interests of the trade and industry despite tall promises at the time of elections. They forget about the trade and industry after coming to power. He reminded the leadership of the principal parties that the neighbouring states of Haryana, Himachal and Delhi had made tremendous progress as compared to Punjab. The political parties should not ignore this fact while seeking votes and making promises. They should give up their petty political gains and work for the overall development of the state.



Trench threatens houses
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
With the Municipal Corporation authorities digging a road for laying sewerage pipes in Shastri Nagar in Model Gram a fortnight ago, some residents are fearing that their houses might collapse as the unattended trench was caving in gradually from both the sides.

The residents said that the workers had dug trenches a fortnight ago and had left it without laying pipes. Water started collecting in the trenches after it started leaking from water supply pipes after these were damaged during digging.

Mr Ramesh Kumar Joshi, a senior citizen, said that due to water logging, the earth on both sides was caving in. The trench was just two-three feet away from walls of the houses. If caving in continued, it could cause damage to the houses.

He added that during the peak hours of water supply, the roads were also filled with water. ‘‘We have to literally pass through a pool of water during mornings and evenings. But nobody is coming to our rescue.” he added.

He said if the authorities had started the work they should have completed it.



Non-performance Achilles’ heel for Congress candidates
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
Congress candidates in Ludhiana city may have to pay dearly for the non-performing bureaucrats posted at various key posts during the Congress regime.

Inaccessible officers, dilly-dallying attitude in dealing with complaints and failure in completing most of the projects started during the SAD-BJP regime combined with failure in providing roads and basic amenities have emerged as major issues confronting the candidates in their campaigns.

"Apply, apply, no reply was the response of the officials to the problems of the residents, says Mr S.S Channa, a retired IFS officer.

The bureaucrats were a power bloc in themselves and were least interested in providing basic amenities to the residents, he claimed. The residents are now putting these posers to the Congress candidates.

Ask Rakesh Kumar, who suffered permanent paralysis of the left side after falling in an open manhole and he would narrate the pain of neglect and insensitive attitude of some Municipal Corporation officials, “My life changed completely but they did not even have a word of sympathy for me.” He was eventually paid compensation by the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, after media highlighted his case.

Residents of the colonies on the outskirts of the city are living in conditions worse than those in backward rural areas. A number of colonies have not been provided with proper roads and sewerage. Residents of Baba Deep Singh Nagar in Dugri have been asking for proper roads for the past several years but to no avail. Similarly residents of many other colonies like Gyaspura, industrialists of Focal Point and many other areas have been demanding basic amenities but without any result.

Mr Channa, who had taken up the matter of clean environment at different platforms, including the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and even the High Court, said “till date I have not seen any success on the ground level. We are just asking for our basic right to live in clean environment. But even that has become a rare commodity now,” he says.

Roads in Urban Estate also are a picture of official apathy. This so called well-planned area of the city has roads dotted with potholes.

Monu, a student living in Chander Nagar, told Ludhiana Tribune how she embarrassed a candidate by asking if his back was aching after travelling on the bouncy roads and whether the shockers of his vehicle were intact.



Ailing’ rural health services frustrate docs
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 6
The much hyped privatisation of rural health services under which dispensaries were handed over to zila parishads and doctors along with supporting staff were recruited on contract basis all over the state in July 2006, has apparently failed to produce the desired results if the disenchantment and frustration among service provider doctors and other components of health care delivery system is any indication.

The doctors working in the rural dispensaries attribute the total failure of the so called 'panchaytikaran' of rural health institutions to rampant corruption in the zila parishads, failure of these bodies to release the promised funds on time, the one-time grant for the improvement of infrastructure and purchase of equipment at health centres remaining elusive and erratic mechanism for the supply of medicines.

A young doctor, working in a subsidiary health centre in Pakhowal block in this district told Ludhiana Tribune that the Zila Parishad had not released the monthly grant of Rs 30,000 for the month of December 2006 which covered the salaries of doctors, supporting staff and operating expenses. "After repeated pleas, the Zila Parishad has released funds to around 30 per cent dispensaries while others are still waiting."

Another female doctor, deployed in a village on the outskirts of the city, told on the condition of anonymity that she had committed the biggest mistake of her life by accepting this job offer. "Providing promised monthly funds on time to dispensaries seems to be of least importance for zila parishads. Rather than taking care of the sick persons at the health centres, we have to chase the officials and panchayat functionaries for funds to meet day-to-day expenses and pay salaries to para-medics and other staff."

The service provider doctors lamented that at the time of recruitment, they were promised that a one time grant of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh would be given to each subsidiary health centre for infrastructure development and purchase of equipment. But till now, the promise has remained unfulfilled and these institutions are in shambles.

Service provider doctors were of the opinion that the system for the supply of medicines to the dispensaries and health centres through respective village panchayats was faulty and left much to be desired. The local needs or seasonal requirements were not given any consideration, as a result essential medicines were in short supply and relatively less useful medicines were available in abundance and there was not enough space available to store these.


Punjab VOTES ’07

PM’s visit hits work at courts
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, February 6
The visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may or may not help the Congress candidates but it surely hit the common man hard.

It badly hit the working of courts, particularly the criminal cases. The undertrials whose cases were fixed for today could not be produced before the courts. As a result, hundreds of cases were adjourned without any effective hearing.

'Bakshikhana' which generally remains full of undertrials and surrounded by their relatives was having a deserted look. It was completely empty.

Judges’ security was also decreased, especially those who were having two gunmen. One was withdrawn for deputing him on the Prime Minister’s duty. Apart from this, those assisting the public prosecutors and courts in handling criminal cases were also put on special duty.

The criminal cases, in which the police officials were summoned as witnesses were also adjourned without any effective hearing. In some cases, the written requests were received from police officials and in other, the government made requests.

Since police officials were deputed on the security arrangements of the Prime Minster and other dignitaries, the bail applications were adjourned to next dates. Almost all bail applications pending in the courts of the additional sessions judges were not even heard, as the police files, which were to perused by the judges with the assistance of public prosecutor for deciding the bail applications, were not available.

The adjournment in bail applications was a bad experience for the persons, whose anticipatory bail applications were pending for today and who had even not got any interim relief earlier. Now they will have to wait for another date, so that their bail applications may be heard.

However, the adjournments proved good for those, who had been given interim relief earlier. 



Lack of issues or deja vu?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
The voter, they say, has the last laugh and this time around Punjabis are weighing their options very carefully, keeping their cards close to their chest.

Call it lack of issues or a feeling of deja vu among the electorate, the people themselves attribute the general indifference to the disillusionment and the lack of a certain zing that is missing in the ongoing electioneering. And this has the candidates worried with many senior politicians complaining that the inscrutable face of the voter says it all.

And they should know. This was evident during a quick tour by this correspondent of the villages in the district. Guarded responses and non- committal glances of voters greets one in numerous hamlets across the countryside.

The usually communicative womenfolk too are reluctant to express their opinion, the sole 
exception being the youngsters who have already made their choices and are 
frank in naming the party and candidate of their choice.

Another factor this time is the inability to gauge the political affiliations in a village by just looking at the party flags fluttering on rooftops. Unlike previous elections, they are missing and so are the party banners, buntings and posters. One also comes across less vehicles blaring poll related propaganda.

The hustle, bustle and din related with an assembly election is certainly missing. Some cite the strict directions in this context from the Election Commission but the party cadres tasked with distributing election material in Samrala and Payal constituency revealed that that the people are reluctant to let them affix flags on their rooftops or paste posters on their walls.

“Even the buntings or banners put by us on the entrance gates of the villages are sooner or later pulled down. It seems that no one wishes to disclose their political leanings even though poll day is just 10 days away”, they lament.

Another interesting aspect was that the walls of many houses were plastered with the posters of several candidates. In several villages, the rooftops were spotted with the party flags of several contenders. Also the banners and flags of the Congress were prepared on a larger scale.

The election offices of the candidates too were, by and large, manned by a handful of workers as compared to the previous trend of having a large gathering at all times signifying their acceptability among the people. Poll managers said they too were worried on the reluctance of the people to even come and sit for some time.

This surely must have set the alarm bells ringing in many camps.



He promises to work for the disabled
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
This candidate is probably the only one who is taking up the issue of ‘differently abled’ children and youth.

In a city where getting a normal child admitted to a good school is a hell of a task, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, SAD nominee from Ludhiana West, has promised quality education for the differently abled especially autistic children.

Fighting on the SAD ticket for the first time, Mr Dhanda says he feels pained at the attitude of some schools who do not want to admit these children, who are a responsibility of not only the parents but the society and nation on the whole.

‘‘If returned to power, I would take up the issue so that parents of these children can heave a sigh of relief. I would work towards job avenues for the disabled also, ’’ says Mr Dhanda, a well known lawyer, who had contested last assembly elections as an Independent.

Being a good orator, Mr Dhanda leaves no platform to touch the hearts of people by his powerful speech mostly touching women issues, environment, social evils like liquor and gambling besides encroachments and proper living space for people living in slums.

Thinking compassionately about the gender bias, Mr Dhanda says that if the people elect him he would ensure that women got respect and all other dues. ‘‘I will make the crime against women cell more sensitive towards dealing with women besides strengthening the hands of NGOs who are genuinely working in this direction, ’’ he adds.

Another important issue that does not miss his focus is pollution in the city. ‘‘Being the most polluted city in state, Ludhiana needs immediate attention. If something is not done, people would continue to inhale poisonous gases besides drinking toxic water.

Health of the people is a responsibility of the state and a legislator can do a lot by raising such issues in the assembly,’’ he says with a sense of conviction adding that during his career as a lawyer he left no stone unturned to take his cases to a logical conclusion. ‘‘I see all these issues as my cases needing urgent and immediate attention.’’

The living conditions of a certain class of society also finds a mention on his priority list. ‘‘I have seen many people working in a factory on ground floor and living in a room on the first floor. Packed like sardines, they sleep as if they have to somehow survive, no live. I would definitely like to make a difference to their lives, ’’ he adds. 



Jagmohan to take care of pollution
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, February 6
Prof Jagmohan Singh candidate of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) from Ludhiana West segment has promised to take care of the environmental C of Ludhiana town and provide a clean and efficient civic administration.

In a handout, Prof Jagmohan Singh maintained that the sitting Congress legislators and the counsellors of the other opposition parties had not bothered about the civic needs of residents of this industrial town during the past five years or so.

The political parties were hand in glove with the local municipal administration with the result that the town had been deprived of basic civic amenities like clean environment, clean potable drinking water and proper sanitation. At present, the city is known as city of slums and of garbage dumps.

Prof Jagmohan Singh alleged that the prestigious projects were delayed deliberately and were completed on the eve of the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. He cited the example of the elevated road which has failed to provide any relief in the smooth movement of the vehicular traffic.

He promised that he would help the administration in removing the encroachments and improving traffic arrangements. He alleged that the condition of roads in the town was pitiable and the same have been encroached upon with the connivance of the politicians and the officials of the municipal corporation.

Prof Jagmohan Singh also expressed his concern over the rise in the crime in this industrial town. He would strive to make Ludhiana crime free and check the unauthorised inflow of migrants.

He lamented that sociological, ecological and political balance of the town has been disturbed. He desired that Ludhiana should become a model city with all the basic facilities to the common man.

The Akali Dal (ASR) nominee was concerned that corruption was rampant in the municipal corporation and the senior officers have been filled their kitties.



Bollywood fails to charm this charming model
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
"I never thought of joining Bollywood. Films are not meant for me, perhaps this is the reason why I have refused a glamorous role opposite Akshay Kumar in Sajid Khan's movie recently". Ms Amanpreet Wahi, Gladrags Model 2004, expressed her views here today at Kirtilals Gold and Diamond Jewellers. She was invited to present the keys of Swift car to the proud winner of Kirtilal's promotional scheme 'Dazzle and Drive Campaign'.

An English Honours graduate from Jesus and Mary, Delhi, Amanpreet said winning the Gladrags modelling contest was a life changing experience for her. She also bagged Miss Photogenic title in the same contest. "There was no looking back after that win. My hands were full of good modelling offers. I got modelling assignments in India and abroad as well", said Amanpreet.

She has also acted in television serial 'Krishna Arjun' on Star. Besides, she has also acted in one Hindi film 'Lets Enjoy'. Amanpreet said she had accepted the movie as she was given the role of a model in it. "This was the first and the last movie that I did. I have been getting very good offers in Bollywood films but I was always inclined towards modelling. I feel I have a career of three-four years more after which I would like to settle in life peacefully with a happy family", said the dusky model.

She also unveiled the exclusive Giftline Collection on this occasion.

Later, she presented the keys of a Swift car to the winner of the scheme Dr S.S Bedi, a leading paediatrician in the city. Dr Bedi said he was more than happy when he got a call from Kirtilals at his clinic a few days back. "Actually I had bought a pair of earrings for my daughter from here. I have never been so lucky before. Now I start believing that such promotional schemes are real", said Dr Bedi who had come to receive the keys along with his wife.



1 held with 30 kg poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 6
Sukhminder Singh, alias Binder, of Parjian, was arrested by the Sidhwan Bet police in the Saffipur area. The police recovered 30 kg of poppy husk from his possession. A case under Sections 15, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered.

House burgled

Some unknown persons allegedly burgled the house of Paramjit Kaur in Goindwal and robbed 25 gm gold, Rs, 16,000 cash and 200 dollars. the Raikot police has registered a case under Sections 380, 357 of the IPC.

Wallet snatched

An unknown motorcyclist snatched the wallet that contained Rs 12,000 cash, one gold chain and a set of ear rings from Sukhjinder Kaur of Moga, while she was going to Hira Bagh, Jagraon, to see a relative. The incident took place on January 31 and the local police has registered a case now under Section 382 of the IPC.

Jeep impounded

Sukhdev Singh of Agwar Ladahi Jagraon was arrested by the local police for defying the instruction of the Election Commission. The police has registered a case under Section 188 of the IPC and Section 5 of the Noise Act. Sukhdev Singh was driving a Jeep No. HR-57-1028 and was using a loudspeaker for campaigning for Gurdip Singh Moti, in the Kothe Fathedin area.

The police impounded the vehicle alongwith the loudspeakers and other materials.



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