punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


PUNJAB VOTES '07



Bigwigs in big battles
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 6
Big shots like Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and son of former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar Harkanwarjit Singh Brar (Sunny Brar) are facing the toughest challenge in their respective segments.

Though SAD candidate Surjit Singh Kohli is not a big shot, he has definitely made the contest hot for his heavyweight opponent Amarinder Singh in Patiala. Mr Kohli, whose campaigning style is free from all sorts of frills, as he moves mostly on his scooter, is drawing a substantial support from poor sections of society.

Last time, Capt Amarinder Singh had won by a huge margin of over 30,000 votes, but this time it will be hard for him to repeat that performance. His campaign managers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure victory of their boss. Almost, all members of his family, including his wife Preneet Kaur, daughter, daughter-in-law, are campaigning door to door. Besides, Mr Malwinder Singh, brother of Capt Amarinder Singh, is also making his contribution to the campaign.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal appears to be in spot in the Lehragagga Assembly segment where SAD candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra is giving her sleepless nights. Ms Bhattal, who had won last time with an impressive margin, is perhaps facing a most difficult political challenge from the SAD candidate.

She is confining to her constituency and sparing little time for other segments. Mr Chandumajra has roped in Ms Rosy Bhattal to work against Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Ms Rosy Bhattal is a close relation of the Deputy Chief Minister.

Things have been made difficult for Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the Lambi constituency by Congress Candidate Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, who is reaping the fruits of the goodwill earned by his father, late Teja Singh. The wide support extended to Mahesh Inder Singh by Capt Amarinder Singh is also proving beneficial for him.

Though differences between them cropped up much earlier, their families parted ways a few years ago when late Teja Singh had extended his support openly to Jagmeet Singh Brar against Parkash Singh Badal’s son Sukhbir Badal in the in the Lok Sabha elections. Sukhbir Badal lost the election to Mr Brar. Mr Parkash Singh Badal had tried to make up with late Teja Singh, but in vain.

Mr Harcharan Singh Brar’s son Sunny Brar, Congress candidate from Muktsar, is facing a cutthroat contest from Mr Harnirpal Singh Kuku, an Independent, and the SAD candidate, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar. Mr Kuku was denied the ticket the SAD.

Muktsar is considered a stronghold of the Brars. However, this time, the Brars will have to walk extra mile to compete with their tough opponents in Mr Kuku and Mr Mrar.

 

Masol makes light of poll
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Masol, February 6
A mere 10 km from Chandigarh on the Punjab and Haryana border exists a village where there is no water, no electricity. “We don’t want a change in government. We want to change our state,” is the refrain of every single household in Masol village, where time seems to have come to a standstill. No politician till date has bothered to get a road constructed to link this village to the outside world.

The 5 km stretch leading to the village passes through a hilly terrain and a rivulet.The stretch is full of rocks, boulders and potholes. Though it takes only 30 minutes to cover the stretch by car, not a single politician has visited the village. So much so that the villagers don’t even know who is contesting the Punjab elections.

It takes about two hours for the villagers to reach the nearest town. The villagers talk of several incidents when they lost their near and dear ones due to the lack of timely help.

The village has about 300 listed voters and falls under the Morinda constituency. Mr Ravi Inder Singh, ex-Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker has represented this constituency. Cabinet Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang represents candidate for the Morinda constituency.

Angry villagers informed the Tribune team that they were tired of the ‘indifferent’ attitude of the government. The villagers said they would caste their vote only after their village got electricity, water and a road. “We don’t want to be a part of Punjab, we want to go to Haryana. Punjab has never bothered for us,” said a visibly upset Basant Kaur.

With everybody in the village being uneducated, the villagers earn their livelihood making ropes and selling these in the nearest village-Nayagaon or in Kiratpur (Haryana). A few work as daily-wage earners in the city. Earning not more than Rs 50 a day, they survive on a day-to-day basis. The school has a primary school, but with no windows and no door. About 40 children are enrolled here. They never get to learn the alphabet as no teacher manages to reach here.

Many residents have abandoned the village to settle across the border in Haryana. “Haryana is nearer to us and also a road connects the border village,” informs Dayal Kaur.

Interestingly, while Chief Minister Capt Amrinder Singh refuses to share water with Haryana, these 50 families survive on water being provided to them by residents of Kiratpur village in Haryana. These villagers dig the rivulet to collect water or walk 5 km across to Haryana and fetch water from the tubewells there on camels.

 

Tota Singh finds opponent tough
Manish Sirhindi

Tribune News Service

Moga, February 6
Both the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress have intensified campaigning in this Assembly constituency.

Akali stalwart and sitting MLA Tota Singh is finding himself battling against a tough contender, Mr Joginder Pal Jain, Congress candidate who has the backing of Radhaswamis. Though there is no anti-incumbency factor against Mr Tota Singh, a strong faction of the Congress is making the going tough for him.

However, Mr Tota Singh is banking on the development works carried out by him during his tenure as Education Minister in the previous Akali regime. Mr Jain, president of the local Municipal Council, claims he has a personal rapport with the masses.

Speaking to The Tribune, Mr Tota Singh said the common man was feeling cheated by the Congress government. After coming to power, the Congress had withdrawn all benefits given to the masses by the Akali government. “Facilities of pension and free power to farmers were withdrawn and prices of all essential commodities sky-rocketed”, he said.

The SAD had chalked out plans to come out with a land acquisition policy to protect the farmers against forced land acquisitions. “The party is also working on steps that can be initiated to curtail the price rise.”

On the other hand, Mr Jain said the pro-farmer decisions taken by Capt Amarinder Singh had given the party an upper hand. Farmers knew well who could protect their interests. He claimed the Akalis had lost base and were in no position to win the elections.

 

Chautala’s call to oust Cong
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 6
Mr Om Prakash Chautala, former Chief Minister of Haryana, today called upon the people to give a crushing defeat to the Congress and vote for SAD-BJP combine which he said, would usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and happiness in the state.

Addressing a rally at Saneta village, Mr Chautala said that these elections were very important for the people of Punjab as a government which had proved to be anti-poor, anti-farmer and anti-people had to be thrown out. He said that the economy of India was dependent on farmers and on villages but the government led by Capt Amarinder Singh had ignored the backbone of the economy.

Land of the farmers had been acquired at much cheaper rates and later sold to rich industrialists. He said the common man was facing problems in his day-to-day life as prices of essential items had increased sharply because the government had failed to control these.

Mr Chautala, who was campaigning in favour of Mr Jasjit Singh, SAD-BJP candidate contesting the Punjab elections from the Kharar constituency, further said that Capt Amarinder Singh had misled the people of Punjab on mega projects. Not a “single industrial unit had been set up in the state and as such had failed to provide employment” to the youth. He said even women faced lathis from the government when they demanded their rights.

Mr Jasjit Singh assured the gathering that the area would be monitored on a regular basis after he won the elections. He was committed to carrying out allround development in the area.

Addressing the gathering, senior SAD leader Rajbir Singh Padiala said the area was totally ignored during the rule of the Congress Government.

Meanwhile, a number of Congress leaders and various organisations of the town have decided to support Mr Jasjit Singh in the elections. The announcement in this regard was made by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, SAD general secretary, while addressing a press conference here today.

 

Jakhar wants train to Pak
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Abohar (Ferozepore), February 6
Being the son of a famous father is not enough to survive in politics. It is sheer hard work, says Sunil Jakhar as he sips tea and puts forth his idea that can change the economic scenario of the area.

“The rail link between Abohar-Hindumalkot in India and Samasatta-Fort Abbas in Pakistan should be reopened as this will be the shortest possible route to the port city of Karachi." The railway line was functional till the late 1950s and it makes economic sense, he says while clarifying that the route through Abohar, and not the one through Hussaniwala, makes for greater economic viability for India.

It will not only provide a market in Pakistan, but also allow transit to the port of Karachi which is the shortest route to West Asia. Abohar can have a dry port to route manufactured goods from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Sunil Jakhar is the sitting Congress MLA from Abohar and a former Parliamentary Secretary. He spoke to The Tribune during his campaign. An MBA, Mr Sunil Jakhar is the youngest son of Congressman Balram Jakhar, a former Speaker of the Lok Sabha and one the tallest Jat leaders in the country.

Though Mr Sunil Jakhar has a family name to back him, he says: “I have capitalised on that name once, but people will not vote on that for a second time; it is the work of an MLA that counts.” At public meetings he refers to himself as “apaka Sunil”. The Jakhar surname is suffixed by his supporters while raising slogans. He switches from English to Hindi and Punjabi to Bagri (a dialect of Rajsathani) with ease, depending upon the audience.

At one moment he talks in fluent English about the drawbacks of being at the tail-end of the canal system and how the entire allocation of water is not available and within seconds he switches to the Bagri dialect and asks a middle-aged man about the progress of his kinnow crop.

He goes on to explain that an upcoming citrus juice plant at Abohar will change the life of farmers.

Asked what brought him into politics, he says: “To carry forward the work done by Chaudhary saheb (Balram Jakhar), and also by his elder brother Sajjan Jakhar in Abohar”. The latter has been a minister in Punjab.

 

Be wary of SAD-BJP opportunism: Uma
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 6
The president of the Bharatiya Janshakti Party, Ms Uma Bharti, today termed the SAD-BJP combine an alliance of opportunism.

Addressing a press conference at Pathankot, Ms Bharti said the Ram Temple was the main agenda of the BJP, but questioned whether the SAD would ever support the BJP on this issue. She said the alliance was motivated by the urge to use public office for making profit.

The BJP had lost its ideology. It had left all its main issues, including the uniform civil code and Article 370. Due to it the base of the BJP had started shrinking across the country. The Bharatiya Janshakti Party would now rejuvenate the issues and replace the BJP, she said.

She alleged that the BJP egged her on to take out the Tiranga Yatra for opposing the move to make Ms Sonia Gandhi the Prime Minister of the country. However, later the party left her alone as if the yatra was her personal move and the BJP had nothing to do with it.

Interestingly, Ms Bharti could not recognise party candidates, including Mr Sukrat Sharda from Pathankot. She did not mention the name of her party candidates in her speech.

Mr Uma Bharti later addressed rallies in favour of party candidates, including Ms Manju Gupta from Pathankot.

 

BSP extends support to Cong: Sidhu
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 6
Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, Congress candidate contesting the Punjab elections from the Kharar constituency, today claimed that the senior leaders from the Mohali district unit of the BSP had extended their full support to him.

Mr Sidhu said that the BSP leaders felt that the future of Dalits in the state was in danger and as such they wanted to repose their faith in the Congress party.

He claimed that the local unit of the Punjab Christian Society had also decided to support him in the elections. He said that Mr Anil Rai, chairman of the society had stated that the decision to support the Congress was taken at a meeting held with the members.

Mr Sidhu, who intensified his poll campaign said at a gathering in Phase VII that after winning the elections he would work hard to make Mohali a model city having international standards. He also added that development projects started by Capt Amarinder Singh would be completed in the next five years.

He said that his team of municipal councillors headed by Mr Rajinder Singh Rana, was working tirelessly and development projects worth Rs 18 crores had been initiated in the town. He said that he was committed towards providing best educational and health facilities in the region. He shall be working for the upgradation of government schools into model schools. The Civil Hospital shall also be upgraded and Mohali would be made a more desirable destination than Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, Mr Paramdeep Singh Baidwan, President, District Youth Congress, today made it clear that the district body was intact and all his supporters were campaigning for Mr Sidhu and there was no break-up in the unit.

 

Code uncode
CEO halts grants; teachers shoot letter to EC
Maneesh Chhibber

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) have alleged that the Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab has violated the code of conduct in “stopping” the release of salary grant to over a 100 private aided colleges in the state.

A complaint to this effect has also been shot off to the Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi, for immediate action against the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Sundaram Krishna. Dr Jagwant Singh, general secretary, PCCTU, said the electoral officer’s decision was shocking. “Even the salary grant that is released to colleges each year around this time is not being released on the pretext that the code of conduct is in place. This will mean colleges will have no money to give salaries to us for the coming month,” he said.

The PCCTU has decided to observe a two-period strike in colleges of Punjab on February 9 to protest against “autocratic decisions” in the name of model code of conduct.

The code of conduct states:“ The authorities shall not sanction grants/payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced.” Dr Jagwant pointed out that salary grants under a scheme in existence since 1978 could not be stopped under the poll code .

He said the release of Rs 4.14 crore was part reimbursement of the salary that the colleges had paid the teachers for the period March 2006 to August 2006.

“The salary was enhanced following implementation of the orders of the Punjab Government on 50 per cent merger in pay in May 2006. While the colleges paid the teachers this enhancement, the Electoral Officer has stopped the government for paying this enhancement in grant to the colleges,” he explained.

“If we are not given what is rightfully due to us, will it not influence voters against the party in power? The fact that the officer is going out of the way to undo what the ruling party did for teachers can be construed as violation of the code of conduct,” he added.

 

EC team arrives today
Maneesh Chhibber

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Close on the heels of the Election Commission (EC) summoning the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, and the Director-General of Police, Mr R.S. Gill, to New Delhi for a review of the overall situation in Punjab, it is now the turn of Deputy Election Commissioner R. Bhattacharya to arrive on a two-day visit to Chandigarh tomorrow.

Mr Bhattacharya's visit assumes importance due to recent poll-related developments, including allegations of sale of voter identity-cards in some parts of the state.

According to sources, Mr Bhattacharya, who will be accompanied by senior EC officials, will hold meetings with Divisional Commissioners and Range Inspectors-General of Police. Senior election observers deputed by the EC to various districts will also attend the meetings.

While election officials refused to give details of the agenda for the meetings, it is learnt that the EC is perturbed over a spate of negative reports emanating from parts of the state, especially those related to alleged sale of voter identity cards, as claimed by reports in a section of the Press.

Even though the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, Mr Sundram Krishna, had yesterday claimed that the reports carried by a private TV channel had been found to be incorrect, reports about alleged sale of voter cards have not abated.

The sources said Mr Bhattacharya would also review the security situation and seek inputs of the Divisional Commissioners and the Range IGs about further requirement of paramilitary forces for election duty.

 

DFOs: Govt ‘misleading’ EC
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Violating the Election Commission guidelines with impunity, the Punjab government continues to post a large number of forest officials in their home districts or at stations where they have already served for over three years.

While Punjab's Secretary (Forests) defends these postings on the plea that forest officers are exempted from election duty and are not offering any such duties, inquiries reveal that many District Forest Officers (DFOs) and forest staff are actually on election duty in the state. To that extent, the Punjab Government has been misleading the Election Commission, which has been told that since forest officers are not on election duty and as such not involved in the elections, they need not be transferred. The reality, however, is different.

Forest officials are on election duty in Sangrur, Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore districts. In many districts, DFOs are also involved in the poll. The DFO, Sangrur, is deployed to collect voting machines, the Deputy DFO, Gurdaspur is a liaison officer with an election observer. Similarly, the DFO, Garhshankar, is on election duty with the Returning Officer of the district, while the DFO, Ludhiana, is on election duty in an election flying squad in the area.

Further inquiries reveal that the office staff of Hoshiarpur Forest Division was also on election duty for four months. It was preparing and checking the electoral rolls. Same is the case in some other districts. The list of those on duty includes some forest staff called in to supplement shortage of staff for the purpose. Further, the role of liaison officers to Election Observers has in routine been performed by the DFOs who are related to the elections and are therefore bound by the EC guidelines.

But, the same is not happening in case of Punjab. More than 12 DFOs, Deputy DFOs and Conservators are serving in contravention of the EC directives.

 

Transfers: Govt misleading poll panel
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Violating the Election Commission guidelines with impunity, the Punjab government continues to post a large number of forest officials in their home districts or at stations where they have already served for over three years.

While Punjab's Secretary (Forests) defends these postings on the plea that forest officers are exempted from election duty and are not offering any such duties, inquiries reveal that many District Forest Officers (DFOs) and forest staff are actually on election duty in the state. To that extent, the Punjab Government has been misleading the Election Commission, which has been told that since forest officers are not on election duty and as such not involved in the elections, they need not be transferred. The reality, however, is different.

Forest officials are on election duty in Sangrur, Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore districts. In many districts, DFOs are also involved in the poll. The DFO, Sangrur, is deployed to collect voting machines, the Deputy DFO, Gurdaspur is a liaison officer with an election observer. Similarly, the DFO, Garhshankar, is on election duty with the Returning Officer of the district, while the DFO, Ludhiana, is on election duty in an election flying squad in the area.

Further inquiries reveal that the office staff of Hoshiarpur Forest Division was also on election duty for four months. It was preparing and checking the electoral rolls. Same is the case in some other districts. The list of those on duty includes some forest staff called in to supplement shortage of staff for the purpose. Further, the role of liaison officers to Election Observers has in routine been performed by the DFOs who are related to the elections and are therefore bound by the EC guidelines.

But, the same is not happening in case of Punjab. More than 12 DFOs, Deputy DFOs and Conservators are serving in contravention of the EC directives.

 

Give us a chance, Mayawati asks electorate
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, February 6
BSP’s fight is against the oppressive "Manuvadi" system and not against any particular section of society, BSP supremo Mayawati said here today.

Addressing a rally in support of Dr Jasvir Singh Gujjar, party candidate from Banur segment, Mayawati exhorted the electorate to try the BSP this time as they had already tried the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance.

Flaying the mainline political parties, including the Congress and the alliance, for framing their economic policies to suit the interests of the elite of society, the BSP leader claimed that their party would work for the uplift of all sections of society if voted to power in Punjab.

Vested interests had launched a false propaganda against the BSP regarding the promotion of casteism, the BSP leader said, claiming that the party had given ticket to persons belonging to all sections of society for the state elections.

Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion included coordinator for the Punjab affairs Narinder Kashyap, general secretary Mann Singh Manheda, Haryana MLA Arjun Singh Gujjar and party candidate Jasvir Singh Gujjar.

 

YOUTH SPEAK
Height of ignorance: Survey bares Generation X
For them, Bir Devinder in fray, Sidhu to be MLA!
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
They know the names of all 12 stars in “Salaam-e-Ishq”. They know the names of players in the Indian cricket team. However, the Generation X of Punjab is certainly not interested in politics. For some Capt Kanwaljit Singh is standing for election from Kharar and for some Navjot Singh Sidhu is going to be the next MLA from Amritsar!

A survey on how informed the state’s young voters are, conducted by Mrs Kanwalpreet Kaur, a political science teacher at DAV College here, has thrown up interesting results. While boys have some vague idea of what is going on, girl students are truly lost.

Over 80 per cent of the male respondents came out with names of candidates from their constituencies, but many of them got these wrong.

A 20-year-old student from Matour who has a vote in Kharar said Bir Devinder was in the fray along with Jasjit Singh Bunny and Balbir Singh Sidhu.

Amrik Singh Mohali was listed as a candidate from Kharar by another 20-year-old student from Kharar. Neither Bir Devinder nor Amrik Singh Mohali is in the fray. Some respondents from Kharar said Capt Kanwaljit Singh was contending against Balbir Singh Sidhu here.

Male students from Ludhiana seemed to be as better informed as those from Faridkot, Ferozepore and Abohar. Most of them got the names of the candidates right.

While over 50 per cent of the male voters said they would cast their vote independently, another 35 per cent of them said they would go by what their family and friends preferred. A 19-year-old student from Chamkaur Sahib said he would consult his girlfriend regarding whom to vote!

Not that he would have got an answer from her. More that 50 per cent of the girl student voters interviewed did not know even a single candidate’s name of their constituency. As many as 33 per cent knew only a single name. While 45 per cent of the girls did not know if they had a valid vote in their constituency, only 20 per cent knew the name of their constituency.

For both male and female students, the most important factor that counted for a candidate were the programmes and policies of their party. Charisma as a quality also got many yeses from these students, 20 per cent of who thought it was an essential quality in a leader. At least 8 per cent of these students said the religion of the candidate mattered and for a similar number lineage or family of the candidate mattered.

Mrs Kanwalpreet said the survey had been conducted across colleges in the state among students between the ages of 18 and 26.

“If the extent of political ignorance is so rampant among the educated youth, one wonders if giving them the right to vote has actually led to their participation in the democratic process,” she said.

 

Ex-servicemen to support SAD-BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Retired senior defence officers today pledged their support to the SAD-BJP alliance candidates from Banur, Kharar and Morinda constituencies.

Among the defence officers who have supported the alliance candidates are Air Marshal PK Jain, Lieut-Gen BS Randhawa, Maj-Gen CS Panag and Maj-Gen Jagtar Singh Kang, the president of the Ex-Servicemen’s Wing of SAD, Brig Kuldip Singh Kahlon (Retd), claimed here today.

Coming down heavily on the Congress regime for its failure on all fronts, Brigadier Kahlon alleged that the Congress government had not fulfilled its promise of "one rank one pension".

Col JS Mand (Retd), president of the Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh), highlighted the welfare steps taken by the SAD-BJP alliance government during its 1997-2002 regime.

Brigadier Kahlon asserted that the ex-servicemen organisations had launched an intensive door-to-door campaign in support of all three constituencies, particularly in the Kharar segment from where Mr Jasjeet Singh Bunny was contesting election.

 

Raj Babbar talks UP in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 6
Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar's Jan Morcha is not averse to joining hands with the Congress for ousting Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav's government in the forthcoming UP Assembly elections.

Mr Babbar was in the city to address rallies in favour of Progressive Jan Morcha Alliance candidates here today.

The alliance is a conglomerate of the Jan Morcha, the CPI, the CPI (ML), the LJP and the Indian Justice Party.

Mr Babbar said he would not hesitate in joining hands with any party except the BJP for ensuring the Samajwadi Party's defeat.

Criticising the cane-charging of farmers in Barnala over the issue of acquisition of agriculture land, he said various state governments were acting as real estate brokers for big industrial houses.

Mr Babbar said his party had started opposing acquisition of agricultural land in the name of setting up SEZs in Dadri in UP, following which similar agitations were started in West Bengal, Maharastra and Punjab. Jan Morcha's state president Gian Chand and general secretary Surat Singh Khalsa were present on the occasion.

 

Dayal: Vote for candidates, not parties
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 6
National executive member of the CPI Joginder Dayal has urged the voters to defeat the candidates of the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine and elect true representatives close to people.

Dr Dayal was addressing a rally in one of the largest constituencies of the border district, Amritsar (West), yesterday. Lashing out at the Congress for allegedly fielding candidates with criminal background and not even having the primary membership of the party, he said the Congress candidate for the constituency was “famous” for changing loyalties for his vested interests.

The CPI leader said the previous NDA government at the Centre, led by the BJP, was responsible for the rising prices of essential commodities.

 

I don't lie for votes: Kang
Tribune News Service

Morinda, February 6
Congress candidate from Morinda Assembly constituency Jagmohan Singh Kang stated today that unlike other politicians he didn’t believe in lies to seek votes. Mr Kang today undertook a tour of Salamatpur, Dhodamajra, Bharojian, Rasulpur, Sainimajra, Jhampur, Manana, Thaska, Bhelolpur, Raipur and Daun villages, where he addressed meetings.

He said in the past five years he had worked as a true worker of the constituency and now it was the turn of the voters to fulfil their duty. He said his works were like an open book and he didn’t believe in enticing voters with money, wine and intoxicants like the Akalis.

 

Karat: SAD, BJP promoting privatisation
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 6
The big houses and anti-people policies of the UPA government are responsible for the skyrocketing prices of the essential commodities. This was stated by Mr Parkash Karat, secretary of the CPM, while talking to mediapersons at Garhshankar, about 40 km from here, today.

Mr Karat said though the CPM had been giving support to the UPA government from outside, it had always opposed its anti-people and anti-farmer policies. The party would continue its support to the NDA and would pressurise it to withdraw its anti-people and anti-farmer policies.

He criticised the SAD (B) and the BJP for their communal approach to gain power.

 

Notice to Harbhajan Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 6
The Election Commission is still waiting for cricket star Harbhajan Singh’s response to a notice served on him last night for “canvassing” in favour of a Congress candidate. He had allegedly canvassed for the Congress candidate from Jalandhar (Central), Mr Tejinder Bittu, despite the fact he being an employee of Indian Airlines, a public sector undertaking.

Mr A. Venu Parsad, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer (DEO) had served notice on Harbhajan Singh on behalf of the Election Commission.

The notice has sought his immediate clarification on the issue. “We have not got any response from Harbhajan Singh so far,” said Mr Parsad.

 

Poll bytes
Support for Cong rebel

GIDDERBAHA: Rebel Congress candidate Sant Singh Brar on Tuesday got a shot in the arm with party leader Shivkanwar Singh Sandhu declaring to support him. Mr Sandhu justified his decision stating that Mr Brar had been working hard for development of the area for the past few years. — TNS

Sushma’s appeal

AMRITSAR: To restore prosperity in the state, the voters should dislodge the Congress government, said Ms Sushma Swaraj, BJP leader, while addressing a rally in support of Mrs Lakshmi Kanta Chawla at Beri Gate here on Tuesday. Corruption was rampant in the state and the common man was reeling under the rising prices, she added. — TNS

AGRICULTURE
 

Farmers to block rail, road traffic on Feb 9
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 6
Various farmer organisations under the banner of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee have decided to block rail and road traffic on February 9. Mr Satnam Singh Pannu, state committee member, in a press release said that thousands of farmers along with their family members would burn the effigy of the government led by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab.

He said that hundreds of farmers of Bahila, Rataul, Johal, Jhite Kalan, Khurd, Varpal, etc burned the effigy of the government today. They protested and raised slogans against the Congress government for failing to withdraw the notification of acquiring 1218 acres of seven villages for setting up an SEZ in the district.

EDUCATION
 

Physics symposium concludes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 6
A two-day symposium on ‘Radiation Sources, Detection and Application’ concluded at Science Auditorium of Punjabi University today. The symposium, in which a number of scientists and academicians from national laboratories, institutions, universities and industries participated, was organised by the Physics Department of Punjabi University in collaboration with the Patiala Chapter of the Indian Society for Radiation Physics.

The symposium was inaugurated by Dr H.S. Kushwaha, Director, Health, Safety and Environment Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai. He highlighted the role of radiation physics in our daily life and emphasised the recent use of radiation in medical science. He advised the students on the upcoming new courses in medical physics based on radiation. He made a mention of some new devices such as radiation-sensitive mobile alarms. The keynote address was delivered by Prof I.M. Govil of Panjab University, Chandigarh. He spoke about the regional cyclotron facility at Chandigarh. He presented results on PIXE analysis of some aerosol samples collected from the Ropar thermal plant, Mandi Gobindgarh and Jammu region. It was observed that there was a considerable pollution of heavy metals in Gobindgarh as compared to the Jammu region. The PIXE results showed that the water samples of the Patiala district were free from any major pollutants.

The function was presided over by Prof S.S. Gill, Dean, Academic Affairs and the officiating Vice Chancellor of the university.

He highlighted the vision of the President of India, to see the country in the list of developed countries by the year 2020 and emphasised that it could only be achieved by the advancements in the field of science and technology.

The proceedings of the session were conducted by the secretary of the symposium, Dr N. Singh. Dr P.S. Soni, Head, Medical Cyclotron Facility, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, concluded the symposium. Prof A.K. Sikri, Head, Department of Physics, and Prof K.L. Allahwadhi, convenor of the symposium, thanked the speakers and participants. More than 30 papers and seven invited talks were presented by different scientists and scholars in oral and poster sessions.

 


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