P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Give aided college staff salary: EC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Teachers of over 100 private and aided colleges in Punjab will get their salary.

Taking note of the report published yesterday in The Tribune columns “CEO halts grants; teachers shoot letter to EC”, the Election authorities summoned senior officers of the Punjab Education Department and directed them to release their salary.

Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) had alleged that the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, had violated the Model Code of Conduct in “stopping” the release of salary grant to the colleges.

They had also shot off a complaint to this effect to the Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi, demanding action against the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Sundaram Krishna.

Senior election officials said salary grant for teaching and non-teaching staff of the private and aided colleges was being released for the third quarter. They also claimed that no order for withholding the grant had been issued earlier also and the responsibility for the confusion, if any, was due to the misunderstanding of Commission's order to the Education Department.

“The Election Department had only asked the Education Department to release the grant regarding merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance after the elections”, the official said.

He added that now the Education Department had been categorically told that there was no question of withholding the grant for salary and hence the same should be released immediately.


Dutybound, Bibiji goes about her task
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News service

Badal (Muktsar), February 8
Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal (Bibiji) has seen it all. Contended, she now wants to spend her time reading about religion and doing path. “I am contended and happy,” she says, seated comfortably in her residence in Badal. Wife of thrice Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, she is confident that the Akalis will win this time.

With the polling date nearing, she has now shifted focus to canvass only in Mr Badal’s parent constituency. “I am only performing my duty as a wife. Mr Badal has now asked me to concentrate here,” she says.

Bibiji, as she is referred to by all, has come a long way. Married at 20 to Mr Badal, who had then become an MLA for the first time, she says she had to keep a veil as a mark of respect to family elders. Things changed only after the Emergency. “I contested only when Sardarji was contesting the parliamentary seat. Things had changed then.”

Armed with a mike, she now canvasses in small gullies of the constituency. Accompanied by her sisters-in-law, she promises the villagers that progress will come soon with a change of government. “Vote for your Chief Minister. Vote for Mr Badal,” she tells a cluster of women at Chapianwali village.

Keen on 33 per cent quota for women in the legislature, she says: “More women will be able to come forward only if the Bill is passed. No man will willingly give his seat otherwise.”

With son Sukhbir at the helm of affairs, she is contended. “I have had the best of everything in life and had the opportunity to be of help to so many people. Now, I want to recite God’s name and do path,” she says.

She clarifies that she runs the show only at home. “I take care of the family and ensure that Sardarji has no tension regarding running the house. I also take care of farming,” she adds.


Candidates must pay for VVIP visits: Panel
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 8
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's visits to Punjab may prove dear for Congress candidates. The Election Commission of India has issued directions to include the money spent on the Congress leaders visit in the expenditure of Congress candidates concerned, Kapurthala DC-cum-DRO Raminder Singh told The Tribune here today.

Actually Congress failed to submit to the EC the list of its 40 leaders who were expected to hold rallies in Punjab in the stipulated time of seven days of the issue of the notification, said the DRO, adding the list was provided to the EC two days late.

According to Section 77 of the Representative of Peoples' Act 1951, each recognised party is required to submit to the EC within a week of the issue of the notification the list of maximum those 40 leaders who will campaign for its candidates in a particular election and whose expenditure will be borne by the party.

Congress could not provide the list not only for Punjab but also for Manipur and Uttarakhand Assembly elections, stated BJP national vice-president Mukhtiar Abbas Naqvi in a letter submitted to EC in New Delhi on Wednesday.

While the Prime Minister addressed four rallies in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala, Mrs Gandhi addressed rallies in Jandiala Guru of Amritsar district and Phagwara of Kapurthala district.

Mr Raminder Singh said the income tax officer, Phagwara, had been asked to calculate the expenditure of Mrs Gandhi’s visit for the Phagwara rally.

While EC Observer (Expenditure) for Phagwara Amrish Bedi refused to say anything about this to the media, the SDM-cum-RO Mr Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal said the expenditure would be included in the expenditure of 12 Congress candidates, including those of Phagwara and surrounding constituencies.

Mr Dhaliwal said the PPCC had sent him a list of 12 candidates, including those of Phagwara and surrounding constituencies, requesting to include in proportion the money spent for Mrs Gandhi’s rally in Phagwara in the expenditure of all these candidates.


She knows every voter counts
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Leharagaga, February 8
A seasoned politician, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal says the common man is not getting his due. “I am not satisfied as projects are not being implemented at the grassroots level. The delay needs to be checked. Progress has to be made at a faster rate,” she says.

Though for a short term, she has the distinction of being the only woman Chief Minister of Punjab. It thus comes as a surprise when one learns that she never wanted to join politics. Belonging to a family of freedom fighters, she contested her first elections on the insistence of her father, the late Sardar Hira Singh Bhattal.

“I contested for the first time in 1972 and didn’t know how to address a gathering; it was only after an opponent ridiculed that I couldn’t speak that I realised I had to prove myself. After that there was no looking back,” she says before addressing a gathering of villagers at Lehal Kalan village.

An Akali-dominated village, she proudly tells us that efforts of 10 years have paid of as villagers have now promised their vote to her. “It’s taken years to change their mindset. It’s a never- ending job.”

That every vote counts becomes clear when she makes efforts to make an appearance to bless the newlyweds at a charitable function organised by a local body and a stopover at a gurdwara at Moonak village which has only a gathering of a handful of people. Maybe this is what accounts for her win four times. She won in 1980 from Dhanaula and in 1992, 1997 and 2002 from Leharagaga.

“Dhanaula was my parents’ constituency and no one from the Congress had won before 1980. Even when the Congress lost in 1985, I lost by the minimum margin of 900 votes from here. I later got married and ever since have been contesting from my in-laws’ town,” she says.

Sixtyone-year-old Ms Bhattal hopes that her son Rahul will carry forward the family legacy. “My daughter is helping me canvass, but she is not keen on politics; she does not like the way politics works. Rahul, too, is helping me canvass and it is he who has interest,” she says.

Though confident of a win, she harbours no ambitions. “It is for the high command to decide things; I am here to work for the people, and will continue to do so.”

Preferring to refrain from making personal allegations against her opponent, she highlights the work done by her and her party “People can see the work done. Educational institutes have been brought in and tenders for various projects have been cleared,” she says.


Warrants against Dimpa, brother
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The decision to defer polling in the Beas Assembly segment has come as a rude shock to the top administrative brass of the Punjab Government as it claims that “law and order situation in the state in general and Beas in particular has been under complete control”.

The Election Commission is free to come to any conclusion or make its observations. “But as far as ground realities are concerned, there have been two shooting incidents - one at Beas and the second at Sardulgarh. In the Sardulgarh case, one person has been charged and arrested.

In the Beas case, while four persons have been arrested, arrest warrants of the remaining named in the first information report (FIR) have been obtained.

“They include Congress candidate Jasbir Singh Gill, alias Dimpa. He has been told to join investigations. In case he does not cooperate, he has to be arrested,” said a senior functionary of the government, holding that “the Beas incident was firing on a group of people.”

The spokesman further held that the only other case related to elections was “snatching of photo-identity cards”. That case, too, had been solved and suspects identified and interrogated.

When contacted, the Director-General of Police, Mr Rajdeep Singh Gill, refused to comment on the Election Commission notification on postponing polling in Beas.

“We were supplied a video cassette of the shooting incident. Besides verifying the authenticity of the cassette, identification of suspects and preliminary investigations have been completed. Four of the suspects have already been arrested. And for others who have been staying away from the investigations, we have already obtained arrests of warrant,” said Mr Gill.

“All cases related to poll violence or violation of the People’s Representation Act were being looked into on a priority basis. All three cases had been handled in a professional manner and necessary action taken.” he said.


Dhillon, Keetu slug it out in Barnala
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Barnala, February 8
For two candidates vying for a predominantly rural constituency, the campaign styles couldn’t have been more different.

Barnala, the sitting legislature, Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu of the SAD, is facing a stiff challenge from Congress nominee Kewal Dhillon, a first-time contestant.

While Mr Dhillon moves around in big cars, accompanied by a horde of supporters, including two personal assistants for ensuring that every move is orchestrated as planned, the other travels in the good-old Ambassador.

While Mr Dhillon is a big businessman, well known for the grand parties he throws, Mr Keetu is a rustic, who is more comfortable among his village friends. Mr Dhillon is an under-graduate, Mr Keetu is illiterate.

Even though there are seven other contestants in the fray, the main contest is between to Mr Keetu and Mr Dhillon.

Every morning Mr Dhillon, his wife Mrs Manjit and two sons have a formal brainstorming session at which local Congress leaders and members of Mr Dhillon’s inner circle give their inputs. Then, they get divided into groups, each comprising at least member of the family.

Mr Keetu or ‘pradhanji’ as he is popularly known says he will win by a margin of “at least 25000 votes”. At his say everything is not that well-organised. But then he does not have to worry. Having won the last election by a handsome margin of over 16,000 votes over his nearest opponent, Mr Keetu claims to know each voter by name.

“He (Mr Dhillon) is an outsider as he has never lived in the area. You don’t win elections by staying put in a constituency for a few months. The voters are smart,” he tells you.

Mr Dhillon is unfazed by his opponent’s criticism. “Voters know me. They know I can deliver. In the last over five years, I have worked hard to nourish this constituency. Moreover, it is not me, but him (Mr Keetu) who is an outsider as he hails from Moga. I will certainly win by a huge margin,” he claims.


Cong tottering in Mahilpur
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Mahilpur, February 8
The BSP cannot be underestimated in the Mahilpur (Reserved) Assembly segment where its state supremo Avtar Singh Karimpuri can boast of an established mass base.

It is clearly one Assembly segment where the Congress is trailing behind both the BSP state chief and the SAD-BJP sitting MLA, Mr Sohan Singh Thandal. The BSP may not be seen to be in the lead, but it is certainly in the reckoning.

Mr Karimpuri, who won this seat in 1992, was the runner-up in the two previous elections, establishing a clear lead over the Congress candidates.

This election appears to be heading in the same direction. In his speeches, Mr Karimpuri is attacking the Congress for what he calls lack of development. “The Congress boasts of easy procurement of wheat, but why don’t you question it on the price it gave to farmers - Rs 750 for Punjab farmers and Rs 1,600 for the Australians. Is this not discrimination?” he asks those who come to his rallies.

The Congress candidate, Dr Dilbag Rai, has failed to evoke much response. Incidentally, when his opponents make a reference to the Congress candidate, it is only regarding his alleged involvement in a rape and murder case at a computer centre in 2003.

It is common to hear that Dr Rai secured the ticket for monetary considerations. All this has negated the positive impact of development carried out by the Congress government here during the past five years.

The SAD-BJP alliance is not free of dissensions, with a rebel, Mr Anmol Vaid, son of former MLA Jagdish Kaur, contesting as an Independent.

However, what has really given the SAD-BJP a shot in the arm is the Akali Dal manifesto that promises special privileges for the non-resident Indians (NRIs) who are present in large numbers in the constituency.

Addressing a village gathering, Mr Thandal says, “The SAD promises to set up a ministry for the NRIs that will give due respect to them, protect their property and encourage investments in public and private enterprises.”

The promise to give Rs 15,000 on the wedding of every girl belonging to the SC/BC category, allotting five-marla land for the construction of a house to the backward, 400 units of free electricity, besides other incentives, has evoked a strong response from the people in this constituency.


Games pull in more
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha may be just four days away, but the games people play continues to pull more crowds than the games politicians are playing to wrest power in the state.

A survey conducted by The Tribune in different parts of Punjab makes an interesting revelation. In the past four weeks, Punjab has played host to more than a score of World Cup or international cup kabaddi tournaments, besides an equal number of important rural sports festivals.

It is during this period that some top political bigwigs, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, addressed a series of rallies.

And intriguingly, the public response to sporting events has been much pronounced than those at political rallies.

Kawabata tournaments at different places in Moga, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr and Ropar, besides other places have been attracting anything between five to 10,000 enthusiastic spectators.

Similarly rural sports festivals in Ludhiana, Moga, Faridkot and Fatehgarh Sahib Districts are also frequented by thousands of sports lovers.

Compare these to the political rallies. Ever since the announcement of elections, attendance at any political rally has barely crossed the 10,000 mark. Interestingly, the sporting events attracted larger crowds.

If the election rally of the Prime Minister attracted a few thousands, the just concluded Rural Olympics at Kila Raipur had a record turnout touching 50,000 on the last day. Even the turnout at Samrala Rural Sports Festival last week was almost double than the Ludhiana rally of the Prime Minister.

An impressive crowd gathered to watch a rural sports festival at Kartarpur while a political rally held in the town the same day had only a few hundred participants.

While these sporting events are invariably held independent of government support and with voluntary contributions, the political rallies are conducted at the expense of the state ex-chequer.


Badali on sympathy wave
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Morinda, February 8
Strange, but true. The biggest factor working in favour of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate from Morinda, Mr Ujagar Singh Badali, is that he has lost three elections in a row.

A sympathy wave for this 58-year-old man, who “lost his everything in fighting and losing elections” is now becoming a cause of worry for Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Congress candidate.

As one trails Mr Badali’s campaign cavalcade through the villages, it’s obvious Mr Badali is not new to either campaigning or elections. “I have been campaigning for one candidate or the other since 1960 and stood for elections also many times,” he says.

It’s no wonder then that his cavalcade carries its own weighing scales for the convenience of the villagers to weigh him wherever they have collected coins or sweets for him.

Visiting at least 20 villages in a day, Mr Badali also knows how to handle the affection that villagers shower in the form of ladoos and endless glasses of tea. “I just sip the tea so that the hosts feel I have not rejected their offer. And despite this I end up having over 20 glasses of tea and milk every day,” he laughs.

Mr Kamal Kishore, chairman of the Ilaka Sudhaar Committee (Ghaar), is the man who has infused life in Mr Badali’s campaign. “Vote for someone who is from this area. Mr Badali is from here. Till now all those who have been chosen from here have been outsiders,” he declares before a waiting group at Nangaliyaan village.

Originally from Badali village and now resident of Sultanpur village, Mr Badali had remained the Ropar district head of the SAD for a long time. In 2002, he lost to Mr Kang who won with a margin of over 22,000 votes. He also lost the SGPC elections last year.

However, there is nothing that can deter him. “Everything is different this time. I know I will win. We supported Mr Ravinder for many years but he never visited the area. We parted ways from him in the last elections. Then Mr Kang managed to get votes of the Tohra group also. But the equation this time has changed,” he says.

Announcing the atta, dal, old-age and widow pension promised in the SAD manifesto from village to village, he also factors in what his contenders are speaking against him. “I may not be educated but I have the wisdom of years with me. What matters is character not education,” he tells the gathering in Khairpur village.

But, what remains most effective is his appeal: “Please give me at least one chance to serve you. This is my last chance.”


BSP can ensure equality: Maya
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati has said people have a misconception that the BSP only supports the people from lower castes, adding that her party can bring equality in the country.

Ms Mayawati was addressing a rally here today. She appealed to the masses to come forward unitedly, irrespective of their castes, to bring harmony and development to the country.

She said the Congress had remained least bothered about the problems of the lower castes. It did not announce even one-day holiday following the death of founder of the BSP Kanshi Ram.

She laid stress on the filling of vacant posts in different government organisations as per the reservation policy.


Badal vows to abolish octroi

Ferozepore, February 8
With less than a week to go for the Punjab polls, SAD president Parkash Singh Badal today promised to abolish octroi in Ferozepore and Jalandhar cantonments if voted back to power.

Addressing a gathering at Azad Chowk here in favour of SAD-BJP candidate Janmeja Singh Sekhon, he promised that the SAD-BJP combine would establish a government college at the district headquarters of Ferozepore.

He also announced all public holidays discontinued by the Congress regime, including those on Parashuram Jayanti, Aggarwal Jayanti, Holi and Shivratri, would be restored.

Doling out promises to Christians, SCs and Dalits, Mr Badal said the SAD-BJP combine would provide free electricity, education and housing plots to all Dalit families.

He said a special corpus fund would be created to provide healthcare and medical facilities to the Dalits and assured employment to a member of each Dalit family. — PTI


All in name of the Ghaggar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 8
For years, politicians have been winning elections by promising to tame the Ghaggar, a river that has been bringing misfortune to vast areas in Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa districts. However, the Ghaggar has remained untamed so far. Again, its streamlining has become an issue in the Assembly elections.

Most cases of suicide by farmers have been reported from the Ghaggar belt for the past one decade. Sangrur district has been topping in the production of wheat and paddy for years. The Ghaggar known as a river of sorrow, has been adversely affected the economy of the area. During the monsoon, it overflows almost every alternate year and devastates parts of Dakala, Shatrana, Patran and Moonak region.

“Politicians have made their fortune in the name of taming the Ghaggar. “Our area is the most backward because of the evil of the Ghaggar”, says Balbir Singh of Papra village, near Moonak. “ No political leader has done anything worthwhile for our region”.

“Almost all farmers are under debt in our area. At least one crop is damaged almost every second year by the Ghaggar. ”, says Bira, a farmer of Bushihara village.


Claims, counter-claims by SAD, Cong
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, February 8
With just three days remaining for the election campaign to end for the Punjab elections on February 13, both the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance have intensified their campaigns.

Both the candidates--Capt Kanwaljit Singh (SAD-BJP) and Mr Rakesh Sharma (Congress)--are making final attempts to woo the voters in the run-up to the elections. While Capt Kanwaljit Singh launched an intensive door-to-door campaign in 26 villages to consolidate his position, Mr Sharma organised a rally in Amlala village to make inroads into the SAD-BJP vote bank besides undertaking a tour of different villages.

Claims and counter-claims were the order of the day with the alliance claiming that certain Congress men, including Vijay Bansal, Vivek Bansal, Karam Singh and Rinku Baweja joining the alliance in the presence of Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Meanwhile, the alliance today claimed that a section of the Truck Operators Union had extended support to its candidate. The union chairman, Mr Manjit Singh and former presidents, Mr Pammy Mahindru and Mr Gurcharan Singh Pappu, extended whole-hearted support to the sitting MLA.

Among the villages visited by Capt Kanwaljit Singh were Kudawala, Samgoli, Punsar, Jaula Kalan, Mianpur, Bijanpur, Satabgarh, Chhat,Dyalpura, Kishanpura,Rampur Kalan, Banur, Azizpur and Nagla. The alliance candidate was weighed against coins, ladoos and burfi at different villages.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh alleged that the Congress government had failed on all fronts with all sections of society at the receiving end of the politicians and the bureaucrats. The Congress was resorting to false propaganda on the cheap atta-dal issue, he said claiming that farmers' interests would be protected if the alliance came to power.

On the other hand, the Congress organised a rally in Amlala where Mr Sharma sought votes on the development plank. Only the Congress could provide a stable government and take the development projects, initiated by the Capt Amarinder Singh government, forward, Mr Sharma added.

Coming down heavily on the alliance for going to the elections without any issue, Mr Sharma claimed that no development work was undertaken by the SAD-BJP alliance during its 1997-2002 regime.


He is the face of CPI-ML in Mansa
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Joga (Mansa), February 8
Remember Bant Singh of Burj Jhabhar village in the Joga Assembly constituency of Mansa district? A Dalit singer, his pictures of amputated arms and a leg, had shaken the sensibilities of the nation. The limbs were cut off by doctors to save his life from injuries sustained after he was beaten up by an alleged group of landlords, against whom he was fighting for the rape of his minor daughter.

From the anguished, painful existence after suffering the injuries last year, Bant Singh is the star attraction in rallies of the CPI-ML (Liberation) candidates in all four Assembly constituencies - Joga, Sardulgarh, Budhlada and Mansa - in the district.

Hailed as apocalypse in the fight of Dalits against the landlords, Bant Singh is a major poll plank for the CPI-ML candidates. The district has a strong Communist leaning owing to which the candidates are trying to expose feudalism among other parties, narrating his terrible experience. He is being taking around in rallies of the candidates - Mr Rajwinder Singh Rana from Mansa, Mr Bhagwant Singh Samayo from Budhlada, Mr Gurjant Singh Akliya from Joga and Mr Satpal Singh Behnewal from Sadulgarh.

Bant Singh, a farm labour, was brutally attacked by seven armed men for avenging a legal battle fought by him against some persons belonging to influential landlord families.

The attack was a retaliation to the conviction of persons in the rape cape of his daughter.

"This is no pain. They left my real weapons intact. My tongue, my voice, my mind", says the never-say-die man. Bant Singh sings at rallies asking voters to vote against feudalism.


Sector 68 residents await voter I-cards
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 8
Residents of Sector 68 here are up in arms against the administration for failing to deliver voter identity cards even as the election to the Punjab Assembly is only five days away.

They plan to hold a protest tomorrow and have also demanded a vigilance inquiry so that action could be taken against employees who failed to deliver the voter identity cards to them.

Mr Manoj K. Aggarwal, general secretary of the Residents Welfare Association, Sector 68, brought the grievance to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, today. In the letter it has been stated that a number of residents of the area had not been issued identity cards by the staff put on poll duty.

Mr Aggarwal said in the first week of December last year, a camp was organised at Guru Nanak Public School for preparing identity cards. Residents of the area reached the camp and were photographed. They were assured that identity cards would be delivered to them before January 3.

Some cards were distributed in the last week of January by staff members who promised to deliver the remaining cards by February 7.

But when the booth-level officer was contacted today for issuance of the remaining identity cards, residents were told that their photographs had been lost and as such the cards could not be given. Voters were asked to approach the local office and once again follow the same procedure for the issuance of voter identity cards.


2,000 cops to be deployed on poll duty in Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 8
More than 2,000 police personnel will be deployed on election duty in SAS Nagar district during the Punjab elections being held on February 13.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, said that eight companies of paramilitary forces had reached here though a demand of 11 companies was made to the authorities concerned. Out of the companies that reached here, three were of the State Reserve Police Force from Maharashtra, two were of the Central Industrial Security Force, two of the Punjab Armed Police and one of the Punjab Commandos. He said that all efforts would be made to have a free and fair poll .

He said that 31 patrolling parties had been identified to cover the entire Kharar constituency, 97 per cent of the Banur constituency and 85 per cent of the Morinda constituency, which fell under the SAS Nagar district. As many 31 nakas would be laid for internal security. Fourteen vehicles , equipped with wireless sets, had been kept reserve for chasing persons if they tried to create law and order problems. Twentyseven points were identified where nakas would be laid to check smuggling of liquor.

The SSP said there were 284 polling stations in the district where 474 booths would be set up. Out of which 16 polling stations had been identified as super sensitive, 36 as hyper sensitive , 109 normal sensitive and 123 non-sensitive. Duties had been allocated by name to cover all the polling stations according to norms and also on the basis of inputs collected by the district police.

A control room had been set up by the police under the supervision of a DSP. Residents could contact the control room at telephone numbers 5044631 to 5044635 .

He said that the Deputy Commissioner had been requested to keep a fire brigade, a recovery van and a medical team at the disposal of the police so that these could be used whenever an emergency arose.

He said that three vote counting centres had been set up in the district for the three constituencies. These were at Shivalik Public School, Mohali, for the Kharar constituency, at Government Polytechnic , Khoonimajra, for the Morinda constituency and at Government College, Dera Bassi, for the Banur constituency. Four closed circuit cameras would be installed at the counting centres on February 11 and these would remain intact till the work of counting of votes was finished . A register would be maintained at the counting centres where the movements of persons near these centres would be recorded.

Mr Dhillon further said that the police had impounded 40 vehicles being plied for election related activities without getting the required permission, 16 cases had been registered in connection with defacement against candidates and their supporters , 15 cases were registered under the Excise Act and 788 licenced weapons had been deposited . He said that there were 1300 licenced weapons in the district and appealed that the remaining arms should be deposited with the police at the earliest.


Ban on sale of liquor
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 8
The District Magistrate of SAS Nagar, Mr Tejveer Singh, has imposed a ban on the sale of liquor for three days in connection with the Punjab Assembly elections.

According to a press note released here today, the ban would be enforced from 5 pm on February 11 and would remain in force till 5 pm on February 13.

The ban would again be imposed for 24 hours on February 27.

Mr Tejveer Singh said the ban would be imposed to keep the law and order situation under control during the elections.

Liquor vends as well as ahatas would remain closed on the above mentioned dates.

Sale of liquor would also not be allowed in hotels, restaurants and other establishments.


Tulsi gets crowds, loses mobile
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
Dislodge the ‘arrogant’ government of Capt Amarinder Singh by voting in favour the SAD-BJP combine, which can only bring peace and development in the state, said Smriti Irani, famous TV star, during a road show here today. She lost her mobile during the show.

The TV star said the people of Amritsar were with Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP candidate from the Amritsar Central constituency, who was not only honest and sincere but also a serious politician.

As soon as the news spread that “Tulsi” was going to participate in the road show, thousands of people thronged the venue and jostled with each other to have a glimpse of the popular star.


Ambala politicians campaign in Punjab
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Ambala, February 8
Politicians of Ambala are busy these days campaigning in Punjab.

Interestingly, they are campaigning in areas close to the Haryana-Punjab border as they want to capitalise on family ties. The relations forged between families due to marriages are an important factor during campaigning in this region.

Politicians of Ambala from different political parties, including the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Lok Dal have hit the campaign trail in Punjab. The Assembly segments of Punjab bordering Ambala district include Banur, Ghanaur, and Dakala.

Political activists of Ambala find it easy to seek support from persons known to them and who are settled in various villages in Punjab. The strong ties have grown over the years since girls from Ambala villages have been married off to youths in villages bordering the state while girls from Punjab are now married and settled in Ambala. These ties are useful linkage which are utilised by politicians during the campaign period.

Naggal MLA Nirmal Singh observed that family ties indeed play an important role during the campaign period. He left for Punjab this morning to campaign in Ghanaur, Banur and Dakala areas.

Before leaving for campaigning, Mr Nirmal Singh said the Congress would again come back to power in Punjab while the Akali-BJP combine would lose. He said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had worked hard for overall development of the state.

INLD leader and former MLA Jasbir Mallour stated that they campaigned in border areas as they had considerable clout in the region due to the family ties. He said marriages had led to strong relations between families in villages bordering Haryana and Punjab.

Mr Mallour said the Congress would lose the election and the next Chief Minister of Punjab would be Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said he had been busy campaigning in the border areas for the last couple of days.

Incidentally, senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Sushma Swaraj had boarded a helicopter from Ambala for flying to Punjab. A BJP leader observed that politicians of Ambala had considerable knowledge of the border areas of Punjab. "As a matter of fact, this area was part of undivided Punjab and the creation of Haryana does not mean that we have lost contact with our brethren who are residing in villages close to the Punjab-Haryana border," he said.


Surjewala campaigns for Randhawa
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Ghanaur, February 8
Alarmed at the presence of the rebel candidates, the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance candidates are relying on the Haryana bigwigs in the battle of votes, scheduled for February 13, in Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s home district.

In fact, Haryana heavyweights are fighting it out in the district, particularly the Ghanaur Assembly segment. Close on the heels of the former Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, and his bete noire, the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, pitching in for the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress, respectively, another Haryana minister today sought votes for the Congress candidate here.

The Haryana Transport Minister, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, wooed the electorate for the Congress candidate, Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa.

Addressing a series of rallies, Mr Surjewala scoffed at Mr Chautala campaigning for the SAD-BJP alliance. When Mr Chautala could not led his party to victory in Haryana, how could the INLD leader assure the alliance victory in Punjab, Mr Surjewala asked.

Urging the electorate to repeat the Haryana experience in Punjab, the Haryana minister claimed that only the Congress could ensure development works in the state and make it the most progressive state in India.

Coming down heavily on the rebel Congress candidate, Mr Madan Lal, and the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Mr Surjewala alleged that both leaders had done nothing for the area.

Mr Randhawa sought another chance to complete the pending development works in the Assembly segment.

The Congress government, under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, had done unprecedented development works all over the state, he said.

It may be recalled that Mr Chautala had already campaigned for Mr Mukhmailpur, while Mr Hooda had sought votes for Mr Brahm Mohindra, the Congress candidate from Sunam.


Rebel trouble for Cong’s Jain
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 8
The Congress campaign to woo the electorate here has been marred by disgruntled party leaders, who are now either secretly supporting rival candidates or have openly boycotted the campaign and instead levelled serious charges against the official candidate.

Investigations carried out by The Tribune revealed that two senior leaders of the Congress, who failed to get the party ticket, have held parleys with the SAD candidate, Jathedar Tota Singh, and assured their support to him.

These leaders have been working in the background and are even reported to be encouraging Akali supporters to put in more efforts to ensure the Jathedar's win.

A former MLA, Mr Vijay Saathi, had overtly announced that he would not support the official candidate, Mr Joginder Pal Jain.

Though Mr Saathi had filed his nomination papers as an Independent after being denied the ticket, he later withdrew from the fray on Mr Jagmeet Brar’s insistence.

He, however, issued a statement in which he alleged that Mr Jain had a dubious character and was famous for his proximity to SAD general secretary Sukhbir Badal.


Jaitley, Sidhu visit dera
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The BJP leader, Mr Arun Jaitley, accompanied by Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, today visited Dera Sacha Sauda at Sirsa in Haryana. Both leaders met the dera chief, Sant Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh.

Informed sources said the leaders urged the Sant to withdraw the call given to the followers of the dera to support the Congress in the Assembly elections in Punjab. However, sources said, the Sant told the BJP leaders that the decision to support the Congress had been taken by the political committee of the dera and he would not intervene.

Both BJP leaders stayed for an hour at the dera. They refused to disclose the details of their meeting with the Sant to waiting mediapersons. When contacted on the phone, Mr Jaitley said they had gone to the dera for “darshan and ashirawad” of the Sant. “ I with not say anything about our visit to the Dera”.

Dera followers have substantial vote bank in 25 Assembly segments of Sangrur, Mansa, Barnala, Bathinda, Muktsar and Faridkot districts and adjoining areas.


Cong expels Behl, son for six years
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 8
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today expelled Gurdaspur MLA Khushal Behl and his son Raman Behl, president of the Gurdaspur Municipal Council, from the primary membership of the party for a period of six years.

The Chief Minister announced their expulsion at a rally held here in support of party nominee P.S. Bhinder.

Mr Behl and his son had been staying away from the party campaign. They didn’t attend even the today’s rally.

Sources said the Congress MLA and his son were in touch with senior leaders of the BJP.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister addressed rallies at Sujanpur, Dinanagar, Gurdaspur and Sri Hargobindpur.


Mann: Police terrorising farmers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 8
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (A), alleged today that the police had been terrorising the residents of Fatehgarh Chhanna village (Barnala) against holding a protest tomorrow in connection with the "forcible" acquisition of their land. Under such a police terror free and fair elections in the segment were not possible, he alleged.

Mr Mann said the silence maintained by the main Opposition party, the SAD, on the issue brought its role under suspicion.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, state general secretary of the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), said the police detained Mr Gurmeet Singh Bhattiwal, Sangrur district president of the BKU (Dakonda). It had been raiding houses of farmer leaders to arrest them, he added.


EC shifts SSP of Faridkot
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The Election Commission tonight transferred the SSP of Moga, Mr Gautam Cheema, with immediate effect. The SSP, Faridkot, Mr Arun Pal Singh, will hold the additional charge till a fresh appointment is made.

Sources said Mr Cheema had been shifted on “administrative grounds”. There were differences of opinion between Mr Cheema and the Deputy Commissioner and other functionaries over the deployment of police force in the district. No complaint had been made against Mr Cheema by any political party, officials here clarified.

The government has been asked to give three names for the replacement.


Police station gheraoed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
Communist activists and the Nasha Virodhi Front seized two trucks and a car, carrying liquor allegedly meant for voters, at Karampura here today.

Mr Ramesh Yadav, convener of the Front, who led a siege to the police station at the Majitha road because of inaction against the culprits, said an Indica car (PB-02-A9-3762) and two trucks (PB-08P-4281 and PB-02C-9738) were carrying the liquor.


Code violations

Hoshiarpur, February 8
Eight cases of Model Code of Conduct violation have been registered in Tanda, Bullowal and Hariana, falling in the Tanda segment. Mr Chander Gain, Returning Officer, said here on Thursday that two cases against Mr Sangat Singh Giljian, Independent, one against Mr Kulwinder Singh, BSP, two against Mr Balbir Singh Miani, SAD (B), and one against Mr Avtar Singh, son of Mr Anant Ram, had been registered. — OC


Many Punjab areas go without power

Ropar, February 8
Many parts of Punjab today remained without electricity for about six hours after four units of 210 MW each of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, were tripped due to a technical fault this morning. Segments of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Mohali, Mandi Gobingarh and Ropar faced power shutdown from 8.15 am to 2 pm after an electrical fault developed in the 220-KV switchyard at the thermal plant.

When contacted, the Chief Engineer of the thermal plant, Mr R.K. Goel, said the four units had been shut down due to a fault in the morning but all these became operational later. — TNS


Man run over by train

Abohar, February 8
Jugraj Singh alias Jaggu (22), son of Inder Singh, a resident of the Panjpeer locality on the outskirts of the town, was run over by a train late last night, sources said.

The victim was working with a private insurance company.

Mr Gursewak Singh, SHO, Railway Police, said the accident took place when the Bikaner-Abohar passenger train Up 338 was going to the local railway station. — OC


Man booked for snatching voter card

Bathinda, February 8
The Talwandi Sabo police has booked a man allegedly for purchasing the voter ID card of a resident of Jagaram Tirath village. According to police sources, Mr Surinder Singh said Malkit Singh came to his house and asked him to show his voter identity card. Malkit threw Rs 1,000 at him and fled away with the card. — TNS


Cop killed in accident

Abohar, February 8
A policeman was killed and another injured when their motor cycle was hit by a truck in the Malout Chowk area here late last night.

According to information, Harnam Singh, a resident of Pipli village near Shahkot in the Jalandhar region and posted here with the CIA staff, was going on the motor cycle along with constable Prem Singh when the truck hit their vehicle. While Harnam Singh was killed on the spot, Prem Singh was admitted to hospital with serious injuries. — OC


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