P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Voters seek Beas polling on Feb 24
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
A delegation of sarpanches, panches and others from the Beas constituency today met Mr Sundaram Krishna, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, and requested him to advance the polling date for the Beas constituency to February 24.

Later, addressing mediapersons, the delegation, including Mr Rajinder Kalia, President, Municipal Council, Rayya, Mr Sadhu Singh, Sarpanch, Muchhala village, and Mr P.S. Sandhu, Sarpanch, said the decision of the Election Commission to postpone the voting for the Beas constituency to March 11 was unfortunate and anti-democracy.

“Why should voters of Beas have to wait till March 11 to cast their vote even though the rest of the state votes tomorrow? If there is any security problem, the EC can easily hold voting on February 24 along with the Valtoha constituency. A majority of security personnel would have become free after tomorrow’s polling.

“By postponing the voting to March 11, the EC has expressed its inability to hold free elections in Beas,” one of the members of the delegation said.

Mr Kalia pointed out that results of all seats, except Beas, would be announced on February 27. “After that, it would be clear which party would form the next government. So how can the EC assume that voters won’t be influenced if polling takes place on March 11,” he asked.


Kohli is no lightweight
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
The Maharaja of Patiala, who won a landslide in the previous elections, faces a stiff battle this time from the SAD candidate, Mr Surjit Singh Kohli.

In the previous Assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was then heading the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, virtually faced no contest as both SAD and the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal fielded lightweights in Mr Sarup Singh Sehgal and Mr Jaswinderpaul Singh Chaddha, respectively. Having an electorate of about 1.3 lakh, the Patiala segment has an urban character where the 'Patiala dynasty' enjoys considerable clout.

What has made it a tough contest between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Kohli is the fact that the latter had an edge as far as campaigning was concerned. Mr Kohli campaigned aggressively to nullify the impact of development carried out by the Chief Minister in his hometown.

Mr Kohli won this seat in 1997, beating three-time Congress MLA Brahm Mohindra, who is trying his luck this time from the nearby Samana seat.

In 2002, sensing a wave in favour of the Congress, Mr Kohli, who resigned from Mr Badal's ministry and sided with the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, stayed away from electoral politics, paving the way for the SAD to give the ticket to Mr Sehgal.

Mr Kohli's aggressive campaigning notwithstanding, what will go in favour of Capt Amarinder Singh is the fact that crores have been spent on various developmental projects in the constituency.

Mr Kohli's election managers forced all ‘Maharaja's’ men and family members, including his son, daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law, to canvass for him.


Banking on Amarinder govt’s failures
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, February 12
It is set to be a straight fight between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) stalwart, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, and the Congress candidate, Mr Rakesh Sharma, in the Banur assembly segment even as 1.78 lakh voters will decide the fate of the eight candidates in the crucial elections on February 13.

The crucial segment in Chandigarh's periphery has 31 polling stations as "hyper sensitive" and 32 "sensitive" out of the 173 polling stations. Of the 1,78,603 voters, there are 93,849 males voters and 84,754 female voters, according to official sources.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh is banking on the development works undertaken during his tenure as the Finance Minister during 1997-2002 beside failure of the Amarinder Singh Government. Mr Sharma had made the development as the main poll plank.

The constituency usually records high polling percentage with 1,06,023 (74.4 %) of the total electorate of 1,46,222 exercising their franchise. In the 2002 elections, Capt Kanwaljit Singh had scraped past the Congress candidate, Ms Sheelam Sohi, by a mere 714 votes in the last elections.

Today, besides alliance and Congress candidates, prominent candidates, including Dr Jasvir Singh (BSP) and Mr Avtar Singh Saini (SAD-A), held door-to-door campaign throughout the day to make a final bid to woo the voters.

Speaking to reporters at Lalru, Capt Kanwaljit Singh alleged that the Congress candidate was resorting to distribution of money and liquor to woo voters. However, Congress sources refuted the allegations.

Meanwhile, the police seized 76 bottles of liquor and arrested four persons for violating the administration orders on the possession of liquor on the dry days. Sources said as many as 69 bottles of liquor were recovered from the shop of Kuku, a shopkeeper of Lalru. The accused, however, managed to flee. Anand Kumar, Rohit, Jasbir Singh and Harmesh Kumar have been arrested.


Parties overlooked key issues: NGO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Faridkot-based non-governmental organisation Kheti Virasaat Mission today said issues concerning the future of Punjab had been overlooked by all parties.

The word “development” had become a major issue. This so-called development had already caused an ecological and environment health crises.

The parties were promising “new gifts” at the cost of ecological and long-term sustainability of agriculture and economy. The debt burden on farmers of Punjab was Rs 22,000 crore. Interestingly, nearly 44 per cent of this debt was spent on purchasing farm inputs alone. The model of agriculture followed by Punjab was forcing farmers to borrow more.

It was time to the issue of environmental crisis, depleting water resources, prevalence of high pesticide residues and subsequently the ecological and agricultural sustainability of Punjab were taken seriously.

Punjab was fast exhausting its ground water aquifers. Yet politicians were promising more tubewells, said the NGO.

With new malls, SEZs and mega construction projects, the ground water would further exploited without check.

The Kheti Virasaat Mission also said there was no water policy for farmers and the common man.


Wary of security, SAD looks up to EC for fairness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Though the SAD is not fully satisfied with the security arrangements for tomorrow's Assembly elections in Punjab, yet it is pinning its hopes on the Election Commission to conduct a free and fair poll, the SAD general secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said here today.

"However, we have no complaints against the state DGP, Mr R.S. Gill," Capt Kanwaljit Singh said on the eve of the crucial elections.

Questioning the credibility of pre-poll surveys, the SAD leader claimed that the people's mandate would be for a change.

Claiming that the elections were being fought on issues concerning the common man," Capt Kanwaljit Singh alleged that inflation had touched a record high during the Congress rule due to the "lopsided" policies of the Central and state governments.

Meanwhile, the SAD today urged the EC to issue directions to newspapers not to publish any doctored photographs created by software technology to tarnish the image of Mr Jasjit Singh, SAD-BJP candidate from Kharar, at the behest of the Congress candidate, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, on the election day tomorrow.


Photos doctored, Kanwaljit tells EC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today wrote to the Election Commission alleging electoral ‘malpractices’ by the Congress candidate, Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu.

Addressing a press conference here today, SAD general secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, claimed that the Congress candidate had doctored photographs by using software technology to tarnish the image of Mr Jasjit Singh, SAD-BJP candidate. Mr Jasjit Singh is the son of Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

As an immediate measure to stop such kind of mud-slinging and character assassination, the commission should ask the newspapers not carry any such advertisement, which was electoral offence, he added.

The leader alleged that the Congress candidate was resorting to such tactics fearing his impending defeat.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh threatened to take legal recourse against Mr Sidhu.


Tight security in place
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
After almost three weeks of hectic campaigning in what is being touted as one of the toughest, fiercest and ugliest elections, more than 1.66 crore voters will exercise their franchise tomorrow.

With over 65,000 security personnel, including 118 companies of Central paramilitary forces and over 50,000 Punjab Police personnel, to be deployed at over 16,500 polling booths, the state will literally vote under the shadow of the gun.

Security forces also conducted flag marches at many places, particularly in sensitive areas.

“We are not taking any chances. In light of concerns that violence may take place in some areas, adequate security arrangements are being made to ensure a violence-free polling,” a senior election officer told The Tribune.

Special steps, including random checking, was also taken at many areas, particularly those bordering Haryana, to locate outsiders, if any. Sources said a large number of outsiders were identified during raids in Bathinda district.

Despite continuing rain, the election authorities were hopeful of 65 per cent polling.

Meanwhile, election material, including EVMs, was issued to the polling staff today. “Polling would start at 8 am and continue till 5 pm. All arrangements are in place. Also special arrangements are being made so that rain doesn’t affect the voting process,” said Mr Sundaram Krishna, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab.

According to sources, the Punjab Police has earmarked 4,323 poling booths as sensitive while 1,323 have been brought under the category of hyper-sensitive.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission is learnt to have told senior functionaries in the districts to check distillation and distribution of illicit brew and liquor tomorrow. 


Patrolling parties ready, nakas set up
Our Correspondent

Security personnel posted at a polling booth in Phase VI, Mohali
Security personnel posted at a polling booth in Phase VI, Mohali, on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Mohali, February 12
The SAS Nagar district police has totally geared itself up for the Punjab Assembly elections even as more than 2,000 police personnel have been deployed for conducting a free and fair poll in the three constituencies of the district.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SSP, said that all arrangements in connection with the elections were complete and were executed as per earlier plans .

Police personnel from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) from Maharashtra and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) have been deployed at super sensitive and hyper sensitive polling booths. Extra force has been deployed in the Mullanpur area which according to observers had been declared as sensitive.

The district police was utilising the services of 825 police personnel from the SRPF, CISF and the Punjab Armed Police. About 1200 police personnel from the district were also put on poll duty.

The borders of the district with Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh have been sealed by the police to check the entry of undesirable elements. As many as 31 patrolling parties have been constituted and their vehicles have been equipped with wireless sets. Twentytwo nakas had been laid today which will function till tomorrow evening.

Patrolling parties have also been equipped with video cameras so that so that the activities of any miscreants could be captured for further action.

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Candidates hire vehicles to ferry voters
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 12
Not caring two hoots for the orders of the Election Commission a day before the elections, candidates of all major parties from all 10 seats in Jalandhar today hired vehicles for ferrying voters from their homes to polling booths for casting votes in their favour.

The candidates are providing the service owing to inclement weather for the past three days. The vehicles, most of them big cars, could be seen lined up close to vacant plots, parking areas and roadsides near their offices this evening.

Supporters from respective parties, on the other hand, have been asked to go from door to door informing residents about the transportation facility being provided to them by the candidates.

Over two dozen cars, hired by Mr Manoranjan Kalia, BJP candidate from the Jalandhar Central seat, for the purpose were seen parked right in front of the bedecked party office here. Some of these wrongly parked cars had created a traffic chaos along the entire road, causing inconvenience to residents.

Likewise, over 10 cars hired by Mr Kalia's Congress rival, Mr Tajinder Bittu, were seen parked in a vacant plot of his supporter who runs a car service station.

Car owners have been asked to make sure that the drivers possess valid driving licences and RCs.

Supporters of Ms Gurkanwal, a Congress candidate, were also seen going from door to door in Jalandhar Cantonment carrying a copy of the voters’ list and asking them if they required any transportation. They said the vehicles would start from the candidate's main office at Milk Bar Chowk.

Meanwhile, the elections have provided a booming business to taxi owners here.

A taxi owner near the bus stand said bookings had been made in advance so that there was no problem later. He said 10 of his cars had gone to Adampur, while 10 others had gone to the BJP office on Cool Road.

The only thing, he said, he apprehended was that these should not get impounded or else the losses would exceed the profit.


Poll managers rush for umbrellas
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Umbrellas and waterproof tents have suddenly become scarce in Punjab. Candidates from almost all political parties have purchased all available stocks in the retail market.

The inclement weather can adversely impact the voter turnout, especially in the urban areas. “When the non-committed voters stay away, it can reduce the victory margins. The inclement weather has had an impact on urban voting behaviour, hurting parties that have a wider mass base in cities and towns”, says Dr Pramod Kumar, Director of the Institute for Development and Communication.

The 2002 elections saw a 45 per cent turnout in the urban areas. The turnout may drop and it will badly hurt our party, especially, in the closely contested seats of Hoshiarpur and Dasuya, says a BJP poll manager.

Another BJP poll manager said: “We have sent party workers with a car to Sadar Bazar at Delhi to buy more umbrellas”.

“Several poll workers have bought tarpaulin from me in the past two days”, says Mr Vijay Kumar, a shopkeeper based in Old Panchkula.

The BJP-Akali Dal poll manager at Dasuya, Mr Baldev Singh Sahi, said: “Instead of giving vote slips to voters at the venue, we are trying to deliver them at their homes tonight. 


Special arrangements for Bholath
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 12
The district police has made special arrangements to maintain law and order in the Bholath constituency, declared one of the most sensitive constituencies in Punjab. A former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur is locked in a keen contest with Congress candidate Sukhpal Singh Khaira on this seat.

SP (Detective) Bachan Singh Randhawa and DSP Harpreet Singh and DSP Dharam Singh Uppal had been deployed to keep watch on the constituency. A large number of security personnel including those of para military forces, had been deployed at, “hyper-sensitive” booths.

Meanwhile the DRO, Mr Raminder Singh said, 540 polling parties had been sent to as many polling booths of the four constituencies of the district.

Each party included an NGO, a Head Constable, a constable and an SPO. 


DSP refrained, SHO transferred
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 12
A few hours before polling the district police chief of Majitha, Mr Lok Nath Angra, today directed DSP Balbir Singh to refrain from election duty, even as SHO (Majitha) Jarnail Singh was sent to Police Lines for ‘dereliction’ of duty.

While Mr P.S. Khehra, S.P. (Headquarter), was directed to look after the election work in place of the DSP, Inspector Rajbir Singh, was posted as SHO in place of the erring official.

In a complaint to the Election Commission, Congress candidate Lali Majithia had alleged that the SAD candidate was using escort vehicles of his brother-in-law Sukhbir Singh Badal.


Candidate held, freed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 12
Congress nominee Ramesh Dutt Sharma from Anandpur Sahib was today arrested and released on bail here. A case against Mr Sharma was registered under Section 188, IPC, on the report of the Returning Officer for holding a meeting after the deadline.

The SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, said a case against Mr Sharma was registered under bailable offences.

However, Mr Sharma denied the allegations that he had violated the code of conduct.

The police also registered a case against BJP candidate from Nangal Madan Mohan Mittal. The SSP said Mr Mittal and BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley had addressed a gathering on a public address system at a complex recently.


Valecha rebuts charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Reacting to allegations by senior BJP leader, Mr V.K. Malhotra, the president of the Punjab unit of the Uma Bharati-led Bharatiya Jana Shakti Party, Mr Pawan Valecha, today said “the BJP may be seeking funds from the Congress at the central level. This is why Mr Malhotra knows where to get these from”.

Yesterday, Mr Malhotra, addressing a press conference here, had alleged that the Congress was financing Ms Uma Bharati’s party. Mr Valecha said: “Let the BJP come up with evidence before levelling such charges”.


No cakewalk for Kang
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Morinda, February 12
For sitting MLA and Cabinet Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, it seems to be far from a cakewalk.

In the villages, it is neck and neck with Mr Kang cashing in on his achievements and his main contender Ujagar Singh Badali of the SAD riding a sympathy wave. Voters of the urban belts of Kurali and Morinda, however, have several grudges against Mr Kang.

Fiftyeight-year-old Badali has stood for three elections in the past decade and lost each time. This has made him a household name in the area and the rural populace seems willing to give him a ‘chance’to come to power. This is true for a majority of the elderly rural voters. The young voter is more aware and appreciative of the development works undertaken by Mr Kang in the constituency.

Even the harshest of Mr Kang’s critics in the area concede that he has done a lot in the five years that he was in power. Other than the construction of roads, dharamshalas and distribution of grants, Mr Kang made effort to find alternative occupation for farmers like dairy and turkey farming.

On the other hand, Mr Badali, who is neither very educated nor articulate, has not been too successful in projecting his vision for future projects.

It would have been an all-Kang show had he stuck to development alone. Allegations of dubious land deals, illegal quarrying and corrupt practices in cattle auction fairs provided enough ammunition to Mr Badali’s supporters to target Mr Kang.

Many of those who had helped Mr Kang win elections in 2002, when he defeated Mr Badali by a whopping margin of 22,717 votes, are now in the Badali camp, primarily because of the allegations against him. BSP candidate Rajinder Singh Nanheri is likely to cut into the votes of the SAD and the Congress. 


fatehgarh churian
Urban voters hold the key
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Churian (Gurdaspur), February 12
The border constituency of Fatehgarh Churian is witnessing the toughest contest out of all the seats in the district. The Congress nominee, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, is locked in a neck-and-neck contest with the SAD candidate, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon.

Urban voters in Dera Baba Nanak, Fatehgarh Churian and Dhianpur towns of the constituency hold the key as both candidates are almost on an equal footing in rural areas.

Both candidates have toured the constituency extensively, meeting people and garnering votes for themselves. Both developed a communication network of mobile phones with supporters regularly tracking one another’s activities and reporting to the candidates.

The families of both candidates were keenly involved. The daughter of Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa managed the media for him, while the son of Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon took over the reins of the campaign of his father.

Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, former PPCC president and father of Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, also pitched in for his son. He sought votes on development works carried out in the constituency.

Talking to The Tribune, he said as a first-time MLA from the constituency, he had worked honestly for the development of the area. The constituency has a considerable population of poor Dalit Christians.

On the other hand, Mr Kahlon banked on the anti-establishment factor. He alleged that false cases were registered against SAD workers. Many SAD workers had been beaten up and no police action taken against the accused Congress men. The constituency is considered to be sensitive.


Election staff worried over voter turnout
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Weather holds the key to Punjab’s fiercest electoral battle, voting for which is scheduled for tomorrow. As many as 1.64 crore electors will exercise their franchise to elect 115 members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha from amongst 1,038 candidates. Elections in the Valtoha and Beas constituencies will be held later.

Besides, voters in the Amritsar parliamentary constituency will also elect their new representative.

“Weather is worrying us also,” says the Chief Election Commissioner, Mr Gopalaswamy, “as it will affect turnout and keep the percentage of polling low.” A low turnout almost always favours the ruling party.

The election staff, too, has their problems. Many buildings in which polling booths and stations are located are “old and in a dilapidated condition. And incessant rain makes these further unsafe.


Polling booth sans door
Amrita Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, February 12
There is a possibility that 350 voters of Vaddikaroran village will not be able to reach polling booth No. 134 at the primary school of Masol village to cast their votes.

Even if it were to stop raining, the 5-km long stretch through a rivulet may discourage them from travelling to the village, which is situated 7 km from Masol.

There are 590 voters from both villages.

Polling both No. 134, was recently repaired, sans electricity supply, windows and doors. In the absence of doors in the rooms, the safety of the polling material is questionable.

According to the Section 25 of the People’s Representation Act, no voter has to travel more than 2 km for casting his vote. However, Vaddikaroran village is situated 7 km from the polling booth.

Residents of Masol village say while the villagers of Vaddikaroran will have problems crossing the rivulet, elderly people of Masol village will find it difficult to climb the steep stairs to the primary school.

“It seems that our vote has no value for the candidates,” states a village elder.

The village falls under the Morinda constituency.


It remained a rich man’s game
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The political fortunes of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and several present and former ministers like Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Adesh Partap Singh and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura will be decided as Punjab goes to the polls tomorrow.

Malpractices such as use of money power, muscle power, drugs and liquor went unchecked during electioneering. The main political parties devised several measures to dodge the Election Commission and poll observers.

Candidates with meagre financial resources had little or no relevance. "Elections are now a game of crorepatis, even the lakhpatis have become irrelevant,” said a teacher in Punjabi university, Patiala. For the past four weeks, the main political parties spent crores on advertisements to “dump” information on the voters.

Politicians during the campaign were surprised at the shift in loyalties to some extent. While some percentage of Jat Sikh votes leaned towards the Congress, a certain percentage of Hindu and Dalit votes tilted towards the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine. Parties such as the BSP, the left front and the third front, which did not draw enough attention of the media, will surely play a role in determining the outcome. 


Mofar tough for Bhunder
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Sardulgarh (Mansa), February 12
A picture of abject neglect despite having seven-time MLA Balwinder Singh Bhunder from here, this constituency goes to the polls with yet another promise of development to voters by Mr Bhunder of the SAD. His archrival is Congress candidate Ajit Inder Singh Mofar.

With score tied 1-1 between the two leaders (Mr Mofar won in 1997 and Mr Bhunder in 2002), the poll-battle hardened warriors are headed for a fierce clash.

The contest took an ugly turn when an alleged firing incident resulted in the registration of a case against Mr Vikramjit Singh Mofar, son of Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar.

The Akali stalwart, whose exploits have made the seat an Akali citadel, will not finding the going easy this time. With Mr Mofar helped by the Sacha Sauda edict, Mr Bhunder has been at sea to explain why not much development took place in his constituency, despite his winning the elections seven times.

The Akalis went door to door explaining that lack of development was because the Congress government was in power and, thus, partial to Mr Bhunder's constituency.

Mr Mofar is banking on his contribution to opening regional centres of Punjabi University at Jhuneer, Karandi and Sardulgarh, besides a water scheme for residents.


Sidhus evenly poised in Talwandi Sabo
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, February 12
The electorate here has a tough job at its hand of choosing one Sidhu of the two, as the sitting MLA and Chief Minister's confidant, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, is locked in a straight contest against the SAD candidate, Mr Amarjeet Singh Sidhu, a former IAS and greenhorn.

Mr Jeet Mohinder fought on the SAD ticket in 1997 and tasted defeat at the hands of Congress leader Harminder Singh Jassi. Denied the ticket, he contested as a rebel SAD candidate in the last elections and avenged his defeat, beating Mr Jassi by a wafer-thin margin of 237 votes in a triangular fight.

Though the SAD has fielded a new face against Mr Jeet Mohinder, this time too it is likely to be a cakewalk for him.

The SAD's move to field the former IAS officer seems to have gone well with the people, as they look at him as an honest man with a clean image. As Mr Nachhatar Singh of Yatri village says: "His kindheartedness will make people vote for him." They are also displaying their faith in his word and see him as a man who will fulfil his promises. Initially considered a weak candidate, he has consolidated his position not only among the traditional SAD voters, but also in other sections. On the other hand, the electorate is happy with Mr Jeet Mohinder, as he remained in touch with them in the past five years and pumped in huge amount of funds for development works. Interestingly, some people also take into account the age factor. Mr Babu Singh of Lelewala village says: "We will vote for Mr Jeet Mohinder as he is young and energetic." 


Votes on sale, says CPI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
“Democracy is in peril in Punjab. There is free sale and purchase of votes in the Malwa belt. The Election Commission is conniving with political parties to make a mockery of the electoral process,” alleges Dr Joginder Dayal of the Communist Party of India.

“ We have been trying to get in touch with senior functionaries of the Punjab Government and the Election Commission of India, but in vain,” says an agitated Dr Dayal.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone, Dr Dyal alleges that votes are on sale, especially in Bathinda, Muktsar and Mansa.


SGPC secy proves tough for SAD
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 12
Mr Raghbir Singh Rajasansi, secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), will be the first person to contest the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections while serving with the SGPC.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, the then SGPC secretary, had contested the elections from Amritsar South in 1997, but he had resigned from his post before that.

Mr Raghbir Singh, a SAD rebel, vociferously campaigned against the SAD supremo for ‘promoting’ family interests and misusing "Guru ki goluk". 


Poll officials found absent, replaced
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 12
A polling officer for a booth in Phase XI here was replaced today after he was found absent from duty and allegedly under the influence of liquor.

Sources said the Election Observer, Ms Anita Karwal, found Mr Naresh Chand, who had been appointed polling officer for booth number 122 in Phase XI, absent when she visited the booth. He had allegedly gone to Sector 40 in Chandigarh.

When the poll observer called him, he came to the booth under the influence of liquor. He was sent for a medical examination to the local Civil Hospital.

In another case, the presiding officer, Mr Shamsher Singh, for booth number 127 in Phase XI was also allegedly found absent from duty by the Election Observer. He came when he was called by the observer. He was replaced.

The Executive Officer of the Municipal Council, Mr J.S.Thind, is the poll superviser of the area.


More police force for Nangal, Chamkaur Sahib
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 12
In view of the elections to be held tomorrow out of the three, two assembly segments Nangal and Chamkaur Sahib are turned out sensitive due to the aggressive nature of canvassing witnessed in the past few days.

Some of the areas declared sensitive include 23 polling stations in Nangal, 27 in Chamkaur Sahib and 19 in Anandpur Sahib constituencies. While additional police force in these sensitive and hypersensitive areas is deployed.

In three segments 3.91 lakh electorate will cast vote tomorrow while 2200 employees of various departments have been deployed.

Total of 1,650 police persons, including three companies of the CISF and two Maharashtra security forces were deployed in the these segments.

The segment, Chamkaur Sahib, is considered sensitive as it had witnessed intense militants activities in the past while Nangal has become the hot segment following a stalwart of the Congress Mr K.P.S Rana, and BJP Madan Mohan Mittal have been using their all resources to win the elections.

The police has already rounded up 57 persons fearing that they could disrupt the elections from different constituencies of Ropar district. Besides it, the bailable warrants had been executed against 704 persons wanted in the different cases. Supporters of any party would not allow to enter from Himachal in the district, said SSP Kapil Dev.


SAD blamed for using ‘unfair’ means
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 12
Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, Congress candidate contesting the Punjab elections from the Kharar constituency, today alleged that members of the Shiromani Akali Dal were resorting to unfair means to win the elections. He demanded that more security arrangements should be made so that elections were held in a free and fair manner.

While addressing a press conference here this evening, Mr Sidhu said that senior SAD leaders had gone to some villages where they allegedly distributed money to win over voters. Some people in Kumbra village were also allegedly threatened. He said that the authorities concerned should check the identity of persons in the constituency as he feared that many of them had come from outside who might create law and order problems.

He alleged that supporters of the SAD had broken window panes of a number of cars in Kharar in order to create pressure on some people. He alleged that liquor was also being distributed by the supporters in violation of the norms.


91 bottles of liquor seized, eight booked
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 12
The police has seized 91 bottles of liquor and booked eight persons here on charges of disobeying orders duly promulgated by the District Magistrate, imposing a ban on the sale and illegal possession of liquor for three days in connection with the Punjab Assembly elections being held tomorrow.

Ninetyone bottles of liquor were seized after a ban was enforced from 5 pm on February 11 which would remain in force till 5 pm tomorrow. The ban will again be imposed for 24 hours on February 27. The ban was imposed by the District magistrate, Mr Tejveer Singh, to keep the law and order situation under control.

The police seized 23 bottles of liquor at a naka from Sojaniya, a resident of Phase I. Similarly , eight bottles of liquor were recovered at a naka from Mandeep Singh, Kanwarjit Singh, both residents of Sector 11, Chandigarh , Mandeep Singh, who hailed from Ferorzepur district , and Rajwinder Singh, a resident of Phase II, Mohali.

As many as 48 bottles were seized from Des Raj of Himachal Pradesh during a police patrol. The police seized 10 bottles of liquor from Jasvir Singh of Santemajra village while two bottles were seized from Jaswinder Singh who belonged to Jalandhar district.

A case under Section 188 of the IPC has been registered in this regard.


2192 bottles of liquor seized
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 12
Keeping in view the polling tomorrow for the state Assembly elections, a special drive has been launched to nab liquor smugglers and bootleggers. The district police has seized 2192 bottles of country made foreign liquor of various brands worth lakhs of rupees last night.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Hoshiarpur, stated here today that Garhshankar police, on a tip-off, intercepted a tractor-trailer without number plates at Kakowal Mazari village and seized 166 boxes (1992 bottles) of liquor. This liquor was meant for sale in Chandigarh. The driver of tractor-trailer managed to flee under the cover of darkness.

The police also intercepted a mini-truck at Banga chowk, Garhshankar and seized 15 boxes (180 bottles) of liquor from its occupants Brij Mohan of Saila Khurd and Sodhi Singh of Mehmowal Khurd.

The SSP added that the Mahilpur police also seized 12 bottles of liquor from Amarjit Singh of Bham and Amarjit Singh of Janganiwal who were riding on a mini-truck.

The Talwara police also arrested Kali Ram of Amroh and seized eight bottles of liquor from him.

All accused were booked under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act, he said.


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