P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Victory of clean polity, says Badal
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Malout, February 27
Jubilant over the victory of the SAD-BJP alliance in the Assembly poll, SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal termed the mandate given to the combine by people of Punjab as "victory of clean polity over rough tactics, a triumph of statesmanship over stuntman-ship".

Addressing a crowded press conference here in the afternoon, Badal said: "People have given a forceful mandate to throw out a government that will be remembered only for its repressive vendetta, inaccessibility to populace and leisure and pleasure among the rulers.

The result also marks the end of a long and dark period of bloody confrontation between people and the government and the beginning of the era of peace, development and prosperity.

"The former Chief Minister went on to add: "The dark and corrupt legacy of despotic dictatorship stands thoroughly rejected and defeated as Punjab embarks on a new journey of hope and optimism."

He said right from day one the SAD-BJP combine would dedicate itself to reviving the lost glory of the state. "We had set before the people of Punjab an agenda for peace, development and all-round prosperity. We reiterate our resolve to live up to the trust that the people have reposed in us." Outlining the priorities of the new government, Badal said fighting the menacing specter of unemployment and rising prices and putting agriculture, trade and industry back on the track would be among the first tasks to be addressed by the SAD-BJP regime.

He said the magnitude of unemployment alone poses a serious threat to the survival of Punjab as a peaceful and progressive state. He said curbing the spiraling inflation was another major challenge before the new government.

"We are committed to providing atta at Rs 4 per kg and dal at Rs 20 per kg, but we have to go beyond this and we will be working in tandem with the Centre to arrest the inflationary trends," he added.

Badal said trade and industry would have to be revived and the combine would fully implement its promise of giving them the right to "make and implement their own policy".

Welfare of Dalits would receive special attention in order to remove social and economic disparities from the state. He said the police would be made to function as a responsible and responsive force and the era of repression would be made a thing of the past. "It is the beginning of a people's government and we would expect every wing of the administration to understand this," he concluded.


Alliance sweeps Majha
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 27
The Panthic Morcha support to the rebel Akali candidates notwithstanding, the SAD-BJP combine has won 23 out of 26 seats in the Majha belt, comprising Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. Most of the rebel candidates have failed to save their security deposits.

Serving SGPC secretary Raghbir Singh, who had floated his own Akali Dal (Majha) and contested the Rajasansi seat, has been polled 3,582 votes only. Another Akali rebel, Jagteshwar Singh Majithia, grandson of late Parkash Singh Majithia, could get 6,848 votes.

Bikram Singh Majitha, brother-in-law of Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the SAD, has won from Majitha by more than 23,000 votes. He has emerged as the strongest Akali leader in the Majha belt, replacing Ranjit Singh Brahmpura who has won the election from Naushehra Pannuan.

Another rebel Akali candidate Harinder Singh Honey could get 5,178 votes from the Ajnala constituency.

It was the Congress rebels who played spoilsport, ensuring the victory of BJP candidates Laxmi Kanta Chawla , Amritsar (Central), and Anil Joshi from Amritsar North. Congress rebels Ashwani Pappu and Joginder Dhingra, who scored well, paved way for their victory.

The SAD has won all five seats from Tarn Taran. Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, SAD candidates from Naushehra Pannuana and Patti, respectively, have made hat-trick. Harmeet Singh Sandhu and Manjit Singh Manna have retained their seats by defeating Congress candidates Manjit Singh Ghasitpura and Tarsem Singh, former commissioner income tax from Tarn Taran and Khadoor Sahib respectively. The Valtoha seat has been won by Virsa Singh Valtoha, defeating his Congress rival Gurchet Singh Bhullar with a margin of 11,350 votes .

Congress candidate from the Amritsar West constituency Om Parkash Soni created history of sorts in the Majha belt by achieving a hat trick. He defeated Rajindermohan Singh Chhinna of the BJP by 13,130 votes. Soni had won the last two elections as Independent. The BJP had put up a joint Jat Sikh candidate to conquer Soni’s stronghold. Soni not only has retained his vote bank but has also expanded his vote base by securing 60,969 votes.

In the Sikh-dominated constituency of Amritsar South SAD candidate Raminder Singh Bularia defeated Sitting congress MLA Harjinder Singh Thekedar by 24,000 votes. The vote base of the Congress candidate shrunk considerably while Bularia consolidated his base securing 54,632 votes.

In the semi-urban reserved constituency of Verka SAD candidate Dalbir Singh avenged his defeat in the last elections by defeating Congress candidate Raj Kumar by 18,000 votes.

Redeeming the fortunes of the Congress in the border belt, chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board scored victory over two-time Akali MLA Vir Singh Lopoke by more than 8,000 votes.


Punjab BJP wants DCM post
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Knowing full well that it holds the key to the formation of the Badal-led government, the Bharatiya Janata Party, will stake claim for the post of Deputy chief minister.

It is for the first time in Punjab that the BJP will hold a position of importance on the political scene. “With 19 seats in its kitty, the party has done very well.

“ Everybody, including the media, underestimated us”, said a relieved Avinash Rai Khanna, chief of the BJP’s Punjab unit. At one point of time, its alliance partner had expressed reservations on allotting 23 seats for the BJP . The turnaround is such that the BJP will now aid the SAD in forming the government.

For the BJP, this is a better performance than even the 1997 assembly elections when the SAD-BJP combine was voted to power on the charisma of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the anti-incumbency wave in Punjab.

Then the SAD had a brute majority of 75 MLAs and the BJP 18 MLAs Now the SAD’s tally is under 50 seats and it will be the BJP that will help in formation of the government. It will also be the first time that BJP will taste the power in terms of having the alliance under control, said a party worker.

Khanna said after due consultation with the party high command the demand for deputy chief ministership will be raised and “we will have a fair share in the government.” Senior BJP leader R.P. Singh, who is close to BJP chief Rajnath Singh, was candid enough to admit over the phone from Delhi that “ we will stake claim for the post.” The BJP leaders tipped for the post are Mohan Lal, Satpal Gosian, Swarna Ram and Manoranjan Kalia, party sources said.

Senior BJP leaders would express their anguish in private at the “lack of respect” shown to them. Also, crucially, for the SAD, it will not be easy to change Chief Minister mid-term and hand over the reins to Sukhbir Badal,” pointed out another observer.


Special fund for cheap atta, dal: Kanwaljit
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Spelling out the economic agenda of the new SAD-BJP government in Punjab, Capt Kanwaljit Singh today reiterated the alliance's commitment to implementation of the election manifesto in to including cheap atta and dal for the poor.

"The Rs 4 atta and Rs 20 dal for the poor is not just a pre-poll promise but a commitment for which a separate fund would be earmarked," Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who won by a whopping margin of 42,651 votes from the Banur assembly segment said in an interview here today.

Painting a dismal picture of state's economy during the Capt Amrinder Singh government, the former Finance Minister said putting the economy back on the rails was a formidable task, but the new government would accomplish this with “cooperation and consensus.”

Promising a "zero tax" regime, the Akali stalwart said the entire taxation policy would be aimed at promoting industry and trade and encouraging investment.

"A Rs 10,000 crore per annum investment is needed for infrastructural development for the next 10 years to achieve a growth rate of 8.5% to put Punjab inleague with progressive states," he said, adding the taxation policies needed better planning and management. During the Congress regime, the state had slipped to the number six slot in the per capita income at the all-India level, he said.

Alleging that the state was passing through an "agrarian crisis", Capt Kanwaljit Singh asserted that the production of wheat and paddy had gone down by about 20 per cent in the last five years in the wake of the "lopsided" policies of the Congress.

The government would come up with a special package for farmers to make farming profitable. The government would pay special attention to the manufacturing sector as it was the key to generating employment.


Supporters add colour to merriment
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
The poll drama showcasing the rise of the Badals in the assembly elections unfolded itself during the 9am to 2 pm show in the city with young Akali Dal-BJP supporters playing their part in the celebrity game show.

Amidst the thumping beats of victory, they zipped down the roads between the Badal’s residence in Sector 9 and the Chief Minister’s house in Sector 2. All roads led to celebrations even before the final results started to pour in as they raised slogans in semi-limousines decked up with banners hanging across the rear windows and flags attached to the radio antennas.

In Sector 10, they added colour to the merriment. Briefly dying each other in the hues of revelry, they played Holi. The supporters ran into trouble in Sector 11. At a special barrier erected just opposite the market to check the use of black films and other offences, they were caught by the men in white for driving cars with banners in violation of the Motor Vehicle Act. But that did not throw a spanner in the celebrations as they continued to take out the victory procession in the city.

The scene in front of the two houses was a study of contrasts. The Chief Minister’s house wore a deserted look with the message of defeat written on the walls. In fact, in the open space just in front of the house, there were more OB vans than vehicles belonging to the Congress supporters. There was no regular cops.

But the Badal’s house with marigolds decorating the gates was the venue of prime celebrations. The afternoon rain was no dampener as the supporters continued to pour in, converting the entire street into a giant parking lot. Traffic bottlenecks were created all along the road as they left behind the vehicles on either side.

Among the visitors arriving in vehicles with flashing red beacons were state government functionaries, and even officers of the Punjab Police. Right from Deputy Superintendents of Police to Superintendents of Police, they were all there.

As the reverberating beats of dhol filled the air, Sukhbir Badal and his wife came out every now to interact with the visitors. State’s former Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal was present in the house almost throughout the day.


Let down by urban voter, says Amarinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
" The urban voter let us down. What went wrong on this front, I would analyse with my party colleagues", said Capt Amarinder Singh, commenting on his party's defeat this afternoon before leaving for Punjab Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation to the Governor. He left for Delhi to meet senior leaders of the party.

" We did a lot for the urban areas, for traders. We created a lot of infrastructure in main cities and provided drinking water and other facilities. But urban voters have not gone our way."

"I have almost wiped out the Akalis in the cotton belt which is considered their stronghold but I am surprised over the stunning performance of the BJP in the assembly elections", he added.

It appears, the BJP will be dictating terms to the SAD on the formation of government and demand its “legitimate share”

What led to the Congress defeat was Capt Amarinder Singh's concentration on Jat Sikh politics. This pushed him away from the traditional vote bank of the Congress - Hindus in urban areas.

His emphasis on the use of Sikh symbols to strike at the roots of the religion-based politics of the Akalis was not taken well by the urban supporters of the Congress and they abandoned him and turned to the BJP in cities such as Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar.

Amarinder Singh almost demolished the SAD in Mansa, Bathinda, Moga, Faridkot, Barnala, Sangrur and Patiala districts, but his party suffered big defeats in the majha and doaba regions, besides Ferozepore and the Ludhiana-Ropar belt.

On the other hand the SAD chief played a more shrewd game. He, for the first time put up Hindu candidates on the party. Badal clearly outmanoeuvred Capt Amarinder Singh. He will make history by becoming the Chief Minister of the state for the fourth time in the past 60 years.

The party high command also ditched him. They did not him the support required to the win the Assembly election to a political party. Failure of the Manmohan Singh Government to control the rising prices of foodgrains hit Amarinder Singh hard in Assembly elections. Amarinder Singh had sought the concessions to the industry in Punjab on Himachal pattern but the Union Government did not extend this benefit to the state. Even on giving relief to farmers from debt, the Union government kept Amarinder Singh waiting for a long time. And in finalising the names of candidates for nomination in elections, the party high command took a too long time that proved harmful for the party to gear up election campaign.

Amarinder Singh's one step forward and two step backward political approach also failed him. He had the habit of suddenly disappearing from the political scene. He launched his

Vikas Yatra with full vigour and got excellent response but was unable to complete it. Some how, the opposition led by Badal was successful in projecting Amarinder Singh that he is inaccessible to people. And Amarinder Singh had live with this image till today, the day he lost the game of power to the SAD-BJP combine.

After party's defeat, he said that he was disappointed as any politicians should be after losing power. Asked whether the alleged vendetta politics against Badals sucked most of the political energy his administration, he said: " It was not a political vendetta. What I did, it was in the interest of Punjab", he added. Asked if Badals took on him the way he did take on him, Amarinder Singh said that he was not bothered and had no fear. " I am ready to face any eventuality", he asserted.


Amarinder’s hold on Patiala unshaken
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 27
Capt Amarinder Singh has virtually led the Congress to make a near clean sweep in the assembly segments falling in Patiala district.

The Congress picked up five seats in this constituency, one was bagged by the BJP and one went to an Independent while the Akalis failed to open their account.

Capt Amarinder Singh defeated his rival and SAD candidate Surjit Singh Kohli by 32,750 votes.

A surprise came in the form of Congress candidate Brahm Mohindra upsetting the applecart of SAD candidate from Samana Surjit Singh Rakhra, who had the support of NRIs.

This is the fourth victory for Mohindra who has won the Patiala town seat three times before being shifted to Samana in the 2002 assembly elections.

Rakhra, who started off with the tag of favourite, was relegated to the back bench by Mohindra who won by 2,576 votes.

Former minister Lal Singh, who was locked in a contest with SAD candidate Harmail Singh Tohra, too tasted victory when he polled 64,442 votes compared to his rival who garnered 56,332 votes. The Shatrana assembly segment returned Congress candidate Nirmal Singh, who joined the party just a day before the party high command allocated tickets. In the previous Vidhan Sabha, he was an SAD legislator.

He defeated his nearest rival Hamir Singh Ghagga of the SAD by 2,595 votes.

Randeep Singh managed to wriggle out of a difficult situation in Nabha where he was pitted against SAD candidate Narinder Singh and two party rebels, including former MLA Ramesh Singla, who contested as an Independent.

Randeep Singh polled 41,316 votes while Narinder Singh and Ramesh Singla garnered 35,985 and 30,644 votes, respectively.

However, the Congress was defeated in Rajpura when former Patiala District Congress Committee (Rural) chief Hardiyal Singh Kamboj, perceived to be close to Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, had to bite the dust against BJP candidate Raj Kumar Khurana who rode on the Bahawalpuria vote bank to register a victory by 14,190 votes.

The other assembly segment where the Congress had to taste defeat was Ghanaur where Independent Madan Lal Jalalpur upset all pre-poll predictions by winning the seat against Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur of the SAD and former minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa of the Congress.


Bajwa lone survivor in Gurdaspur
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 27
Gurdaspur district kept its tradition of voting for alternative parties in assembly elections. The district, a major part of the Majha area, rocked the boat of the ruling Congress. The result this time was the reverse of what is was in the last assembly elections. In the 2002 assembly elections, the Congress bagged 10 of the 11 seats in the district. The SAD got just one.

In the results declared today, the SAD/BJP has bagged 10 seats while the Congress has been reduced to just one seat.

Pratap Singh Bajwa, minister for PWD and education, is the only Congress leader who has managed to retain his Kahnuwan assembly seat in the district. He defeated former SAD minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan by 4,723 votes.

As expected many seats witnessed a keen contest with margins remaining razor thin. The lowest winning margin was at Batala. BJP candidate Jagdish Sahni defeated Congress candidate Ashwani Sekri by just 80 votes. The suspense over the constituency was maintained till the votes in the last machine were counted. The last machine developed a snag due to which the candidates had to wait for some time for the final outcome.

Congress strongman from Sujanpur and minister for transport Raghunath Sahay Puri lost by a narrow margin. He lost to BJP greenhorn Dinesh Babu by just 328 votes.

Aruna Chaudhary, Congress candidate from Dinanagar, also lost by a narrow margin of 840 votes from BJP candidate Sita Ram.

The margins in other seats also remained low. Congress candidate from Gurdaspur P.S. Bhinder lost to SAD candidate Gurbachan Singh Babaehali by 4,337 votes.

Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa of the Congress lost to SAD candidate Balbir Singh Badh by 3,000 votes.

The SAD and BJP candidates won with comfortable margins from the Narot, Dhariwal and Pathankot constituencies. From Narot, BJP candidate Bishamber Dass defeated Congress candidate Rumal Chand by 15,365 votes. From Pathankot, BJP candidate Mohan Lal defeated Congress candidate Ashok Sharma by 8,535 votes. From Dhariwal, SAD candidate Sucha Singh Langah defeated his archrival Sucha Singh Chottepur, an Independent, by 14,066 votes. Congress candidate Irshad Ahmad remained a distant third getting just 3,501 votes.

Independents, Left parties and the Bahujan Samaj Party proved to be a major factor in the defeat of Congress candidates at closely-contested seats - Pathankot, Sujanpur, Dinanagar and Batala. At Pathankot, Independent candidate Ramesh Tola got 17,950 votes and proved detrimental for Congress candidate Ashok Sharma.


Mixed bag for SAD-BJP alliance
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Madan Lal
Madan Lal

Rajpura/Ghanaur, February 27
It was a mixed bag for the SAD-BJP alliance in the Rajpura-Ghanaur belt in Amarinder Singh's home district.

Congress rebel Madan Lal proved a giant killer in the Ghanaur assembly segment, defeating two former ministers, Jasjit Singh Randhawa (Congress) and Ajaib Singh (SAD-BJP).

In the Rajpura assembly segment, Raj Khurana, who switched over from the Congress to the BJP just ahead of the elections, retained his seat by defeating Congress rival Hardyal Kamboj by 14,190 votes.

While the development plank failed to get votes for Randhawa, with anti-incumbency taking its toll, rebel SAD candidate Gursev Singh Harpalpur played spoilsport for the alliance candidate.

Lucky Tuesday

Tuesday proved a lucky day for Khurana. Voting and counting were both held on Tuesday. In fact, it was on Tuesday that Khurana had quit the Congress and joined the BJP at Jalandhar.

In the end, Randhawa had to be content with the third spot, securing 33,369 votes.

Madan Lal romped home with 35,004 votes, as against 34,271 polled by Ajaib Singh.

Randhawa had harped on the development projects undertaken by the Amarinder Singh government in the predominantly rural constituency.

He had defeated Ajaib Singh by 11,588 vote in the 2002 elections.

Khurana polled 56,158 votes, as against 41,968 votes secured by Kamboj, registering victory by 14,190 votes.

For Khurana, the victory margin came down from 16,746 votes in 2002.

His victory was creditable in the wake of his switching loyalties.

He had all along maintained that he was meted out stepmotherly treatment by Amarinder Singh during the last five years.

Kamboj was banking on the development works undertaken by the Congress regime.

"The people have rejected the repressive rule of the royal family and anti-incumbency against the state government has played a major role in the alliance’s victory", Khurana said.

Madan Lal, on the other hand, raised local issues, alleging that both Randhawa and Ajaib Singh had given a raw deal to the area when they were in power.

Denied ticket from Ghanaur by the high command, the rebel candidate's grassroots status paid rich dividends.

In a way, it was a jolt to the family of Amarinder Singh.


Khaira defeats Bibi, breaks SAD bastion
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 27
In a setback to the SAD its heavyweight Bibi Jagir Kaur lost in Bholath, which was considered a citadel for the Akalis.

Bibi was defeated by her arch rival Congress candidate Sukhpal Singh Khaira by 8,864 votes.

While Khaira managed to poll 48,072 votes, Bibi could get only 39,208 votes.

However, Bibi alleged that khera won as he had distributed money and liquor among voters to buy their votes.

“I have no regret for my defeat, but I am worried that Khaira tried and somehow succeeded in changing the political scenario of the Bholath constituency by distributing money and liquor among voters”, she alleged.

Khaira’s victory is a big achievement as he succeeded in breaking the SAD citadel, that too when the Congress was almost wiped out in the Doaba region.

The SAD had won five of the last six Assembly elections since 1977. Congress could win here only in 1992 when the SAD had boycotted the elections.

Bibi and Khaira contested against each other for a third time in a row from the constituency. Bibi remained victorious in 1997 and 2002. However, the margin of her victory narrowed in 2002.

While Bibi secured 53,168 votes, Khaira could get only 25,141 votes in 1997. She polled 41,937 votes and Khaira 30,559 in 2002 and the victory margin was reduced to 11,378.


Former militant Virsa Singh Valtoha wins
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 27
It was for the first time that the Congress and the SAD had fielded each candidate with a militant background.

While Congress candidate, Harminder Singh Gill lost to Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of Parkash Singh Badal by a margin of 9,947 votes from Patti, Virsa Singh Valtoha, of the SAD-BJP won the Valtoha seat from Congress candidate Gurchet Singh Bhullar with a margin of 11350 votes .

Interestingly, Valtoha had a stint as member of Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB) during the previous regime of Parkash Singh Badal, while Mr Gill was given the same post during the Congress government of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Both, Valtoha and Gill had worked as active leaders of All India Sikh Students Federation, headed by the then president Bhai Amrik Singh and faced a number of criminal cases, including sedition.

Gill, a confidant of the late Gurcharn Singh Tohra, had joined the PPCC in March 2004 during the last Lok Sabha elections at the behest of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Gill is a gold medallist in MA History from Guru Nanak Dev University and also holds a Masters degree in Economics, while Valtoha is a postgraduate and has taught at the local Khalsa College.

After his release from the Jodhpur jail in August 1989, Gill convinced his colleagues in the AISSF to contest the elections in June 1991, which were cancelled.

Capt Amarinder Singh, had criticised the Shiromani Akali Dal for appointing Valtoha and Amarjit Singh Chawla, both former militants, as members of the PSSSB and the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) during the SAD-BJP rule, himself Gill with a similar background for the post.

Voters rejected the hardliners. Dal Khalsa could not save the security of its candidates Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurdip Singh Kalkar.


Morinda dist rejects Kang, Bunny
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Morinda/Kharar, February 27
Winds of change swept the Morinda constituency with sitting MLA and minister Jagmohan Singh Kang losing the seat to Shiromani Akali Dal’s Ujagar Singh Badali.

Badali got 58,608 votes and won with a margin of 8,420. In 2002, Kang had got 47,631 votes, defeating Badali with a margin of 22,717 votes.

Having lost every election for in the past 20 years, Badali seems to have cashed in on the sympathy factor, at least in rural areas. The overwhelming feeling that Morinda had never been held by a resident of the area too played a part in Kang’s defeat whose native village is in Chamkaur Sahib.

The urban belt of Morinda and Kurali let Kang down. Always a Kang stronghold, the trading community this time rejected Kang and voted for the SAD-BJP alliance. In Morinda, Badali led by over 450 votes. Kang had a lead of over 7,000 votes here last elections. In Kurali, Kang had a nominal edge of about 450 votes as against a lead of 6,000 earlier.

Voters in these areas had a grudge against Kang’s workers over “misuse” of power. But Kang’s supporters attribute the voter shift to the resurgent BJP factor visible across the state.

Kang had a lead in both Nayagaon NAC and Mullanpur Garibdas but not enough to counter the SAD wave in the villages.

For a newcomer who barely got a month to campaign in Kharar, Jasjit Singh Bunny son of veteran SAD leader Captain Kanwaljit Singh gave a remarkably tough fight to Congress candidate Balbir Singh Sidhu in Kharar. Sidhu got 85,092 votes and won with a margin of 13,615 votes.

Despite open and strong opposition from Congressmen, including sitting MLA Bir Devinder Singh, Sidhu’s win is attributable to his “personal” vote bank in the rural areas. Having stood for assembly elections twice earlier, Sidhu was a familiar name in the area.

The urban votes however decidedly went in favour of the SAD-BJP combine.Satisfied with the outcome, Bunny says he could have won had he got a fortnight more for campaigning.


No politics of vendetta: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
General secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Singh Badal today chose to focus on future policies and made it clear “there will be no politics of vendetta as unleashed by the Congress during its regime”.

Basking in the glory of victory, he said: “we will focus on development and pursue an economic agenda”. There will be no false cases and no witch-hunt. If anybody has committed a wrong or a crime, the department that has faced losses will decide upon the future course of action.”

Badal evaded queries if he would carry out his threat of putting Capt Amarinder Singh behind bars.

On the much-criticised mega projects that were opposed tooth and nail by the SAD, Badal said: “We are in favour of industry but will not allow anybody to walk away with concessions without any tie-up with a firm.” The government would give permission only when a company proposing a mega project met basic requirements.

On the project of the Reliance Industries, he said: “ any land that the company had taken away against the wishes of the panchayat will have to be returned.” Procurement would be smooth and we will try to increase grain production.


Most defectors fared well
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Politicians who defected gained at the hustings. Few persons whom Amarinder Singh had helped enter the Congress have won. Makhan Singh has won on the Congress ticket from Pacca Kalan. In 1997 he had won on SAD ticket while Sher Singh Gagowal an Independent was drafted into the Congress he won from Mansa.

Surjit Singh Dhiman, Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu and Gurpreet singh Kangar, all sitting Independent MLAs joined the Congress. They won from Dirbha, Talwandi Sabo and Rampura Phul.

It was Amarinder Singh, who brought in Harminder Singh Jassi from Bathinda and managed to win over the support of Dera Sacha Sauda. Jassi is a close relative of the head of the dera.

Similarly, Nirmal Singh, a sitting MLA of the SAD had joined the Congress he has won from Shatrana. Mangat Ram Bansal was also drafted into the Congress and he won from Budhlada. The only notable loser was H.S. Gill from Patti, who was brought in despite severe opposition from Pardesh Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo.

The Chief Minister also brought in Ajaib Singh Bhatti, a PCS officer. He was asked to resign. He contested and won from Nathana.

Sangat Singh Gilzan was denied the Congress ticket from Tanda, he contested as a rebel and won it. Charanjit Singh Channi was also denied a Congress ticket. he rebelled and won from Chamkaur Sahib. Iqbal Singh Jhoonda was denied the SAD ticket from Dhuri. He won it independently.

At Ghanaur, Madan Lal Thekedaar rebelled against the Congress. He also won. Independent Ajit Singh Shant also won from Nihalsinghwala.

The party was in touch with five Independents and they were expected to support the newly elected ruling combine. In Gurdaspur, G.S. Babehali, left the Congress and joined the SAD. He was won. Raj Khurana left the Congress to join the SAD. He won from Rajpura.


The women score — seven out of 55
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Punjab’s electorate is in no mood for women’s empowerment, or so says the result of assembly polls. Of the 55 women in the fray, only 7 have got elected. The performance of women has, in fact, deteriorated over the last elections in 2002 when eight out of the contending 70 women had won.

This time around, the voters have sprung several surprises by bringing down trusted heavyweights on both sides of the political fence. On the one hand they have defeated Bibi Jagir Kaur, the Akali stalwart, who has been SGPC president and two-time MLA from Bholath.

On the other they have overlooked former chief minister Beant Singh’s political legacy to reject his daughter Gurkanwal Kaur in Jalandhar Cant. The margins of their defeat, too, are a matter of surprise - while Jagir Kaur lost to Congressman Sukhpal Singh Khaira by 8,864 votes, Gurkanwal Kaur said she was “heavily disappointed” having lost the seat by 16,984 votes.

"The Hindu vote has gone against me. I paid the price of the Congress decision not to field a Hindu from Jalandhar Central. The decision marred my chances as well. The Cantonment Board also worked against me," Gurkanwal said today. Jagir Kaur, meanwhile, remained closeted in her Begowal dera all day, while her supporters were in a state of disbelief. For Bibi, her own people -- the Lubanas -- have been the deserters.

Other big losers from the Akali brigade are two-time Ropar MLA Satwinder Dhaliwal and sitting MLA from Chamkaur Sahib Satwant Kaur Sandhu. While Dhaliwal says she was defeated because of the last minute decision of the party to shift her to Amloh. "I had been working in Khanna from where I contested the last time. I spent five years there and was suddenly brought to Amloh, where I had no time to work," she told The Tribune.

The only winning women candidates for the Akali Dal have been Upinderjit Kaur from Sultanpur Lodhi and Mohinder Josh from Shyam Chaurasi. Of the five women the Akalis had fielded, only two could make it to the victory line. Upinderjit Kaur, the most educated of all candidates, proved the biggest gainer among Akali women. Not only did she steer clear of anti-incumbency, she even doubled her margins from last time.

On the Congress side, too, women did not have it easy as only five of the eight fielded by the party finally won. Interestingly, even Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, deputy chief minister in the outgoing government, was on tenterhooks till the last minute of counting. She just about sailed through with a margin of 254 votes.

For the Congress, Razia Sultana brought encouraging news by retaining Malerkotla with a margin of over 14, 200 votes. Congress' Harchand Kaur from Sherpur and Rajbans Kaur from Kapurthala also won with a comfortable margin of 10,514 and 6000 votes respectively.

Major losers for the Congress have been sitting Dinanagar MLA Aruna Choudhary (lost by 800 votes), first timer and Punjab Public Service Commission member Mai Rup Kaur from Dhuri (lost by 3179 votes), Santosh Kumari from Balachaur (lost by 1181 votes) and Surinder Kaur Balia from Bhadaur.

For the BJP, old horse Laxmi Kanta Chawla strode home to victory with a margin of 3,695 votes in Amritsar Central.


Narrowest winning margin was 86
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
There were as many close contests.

While outgoing Capt Amarinder Singh defeated his SAD rival by a whopping 32,742 votes from Patiala town, his deputy Rajinder Kaur Bhattal just about managed to hold on to Lehragaga by 254 votes more than her SAD opponent Prem Singh Chandumajra.

However, the narrowest victory margin was registered by BJP's Jagdish Sahni, who defeated sitting minister Ashwani Sekhri by 86 votes.

Among the other candidates who managed to scrape past by only a handful of votes are Dinesh Singh (Sujanpur), who defeated minister Raghunath Sahaipuri by 328 votes, Sarwan Singh (Phillaur) of SAD, who defeated sitting minister Chaudhury Santokh Singh by 273 votes, Congress candidate Gurdeep Singh Bhaini (Jagraon), who clinched the seat by 873 votes. At Ghanaur, Independent Madan Lal Thekedar won by 732 votes, while BJP contestant Sita Ram clinched the Dina Nagar seat by a slender margin of 842 votes.

Among the highest victory margins, the top three positions went to SAD nominees. Hira Singh Gabrian defeated former minister and Congress nominee Malkiat Singh Birmi for the Ludhiana Rural seat by a whopping margin of 48,676 votes, Sher Singh Gubiya was elected from Jalalabad, defeating his nearest rival and minister Hans Raj Josan (Cong) by a margin of 44,077 votes. Former finance minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh won from Banur by a margin of 42,651 votes.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh had won by a slender margin of 700-odd votes in the last elections. He had defeated first-timer Sheelam Sohi.

Bikram Singh Majithia, brother-in-law of SAD general secretary Sukhbir Badal, was among those who won with a convincing margin of over 20,000 votes.

Another SAD candidate Raminder Singh Bolaria clinched the Amritsar South seat by a margin of over 24,008 votes over his nearest opponent.

Des Raj Dhugga of the SAD defeated Jasbir Singh Pal of the Congress for the Gardhiwala seat by a margin of 20,384 votes. Didar Singh annexed the Sirhind seat from his Congress rival Dr Harbans Lal by an impressive margin of 23,399 votes.


Amritsar jinx persists
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Call it the Amritsar jinx but the fact is that all non-Congress MPs, elected from this constituency in the post-Independence India, have failed to complete their full term of five years.

The fact can be clearly demonstrated by studying the history of the constituency from the first non Cong MP Vir Yajna Dutt to the recent Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine candidate Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Every time a non-Congress candidate has succeeded from Amritsar, the candidate has failed to complete the assigned term owing to by-elections or mid-term elections.

Let us trace the trajectory of the Amritsar jinx. Vir Yajna Dutt of the Jansangh was the first non-Congress MP from Amritsar and was elected in 1967. But he failed to complete his term and mid-term elections took place in 1971. He was defeated by Durga Das Bhatia of the Congress.

In 1977, another non-Congress candidate, Dr Baldev Prakash, emerged victorious but he too could not complete his term and was defeated in the 1980 mid-term elections.

Yet again in 1989, a non-Congress candidate, Kirpal Singh, was elected but he too could not complete his term owing to the mid-term elections in 1991.

In 1998 too, a Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine candidate, Daya Singh Sodhi, achieved victory but he too succumbed to the jinx . The veteran Congressman ,Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, was victorious in the 1999 elections.


Ramesh Inder Singh may be new chief secy
Race hots up for principal secy to CM
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
With the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance returning to power in Punjab, major changes in the administrative setup of the state are on the cards.

The new government is expected to name a new chief secretary and also principal secretary to the Chief Minister, besides taking a decision about the police chief.

It is likely to request the Union Government for repatriation of some its senior bureaucrats, including police officers, for manning key positions in the state administration.

Punjab may recall,besides others, Ramesh Inder Singh, Shivinder Singh Brar and Sudhir Mittal (IAS) and N.P.S. Aulakh (IPS).

In all probability,present chief secretary K.R. Lakhanpal will pave the way for either Ramesh Inder Singh (1974 batch),who is currently with the Government of India, or Tejinder Kaur (1973 batch).

Shivinder Singh Brar and Sudhir Mittal are strong contenders for the position of principal secretary to the Chief Minister.Others in the run for key positions in the new administration include Arun Goel, besides S.K. Sandhu and Paramjit Singh Aujla.The last two are currently on deputation with the Chandigarh Administration.

During the previous tenure of the SAD-BJP government, Ramesh Inder Singh was principal secretary to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sudhir Mittal held key positions in the Excise and Taxation and the Department of Power.Mittal also had a brief tenure as chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Shivinder Singh Brar was also a favourite of the previous SAD-BJP government.

Lakhanpal is due for superannuation on August 31 this year.

Other senior members of the civil service Kuldip Kumar Bhatnagar (1970 batch, retirement on June 30), Bharat Raj Bajaj (1970 batch, retirement on January 31, 2008), Satwant Reddy (1971 batch, retirement on May 31) and Amitabh Pande (1971 batch, retirement on May 31, 2008) are senior to present chief secretary.Of them,Reddy and Pande are on deputation with the Government of India.

In case the new regime opts for Tejinder Kaur or Ramesh Inder Singh, it may have to overlook the claims of their seniors, including Gurjit Singh Cheema and Harsimrat (both 1972 batch),Romila Dubey (1973 batch).Tejinder Kaur, if chosen, will be the first woman chief secretary of the state.

Ramesh Inder Singh has two additional seniors than Tejinder Kaur to get the top administrative post. They are P. Ram and Vijay Kain.

Though present police chief Rajdeep Singh Gill, is non-controversial,the new government may be under pressure to recall N.P.S. Aulakh on deputation from the Border Security Force. M.P.S.Aulakh, elder brother of N.P.S. Aulakh, was additional director-general (Intelligence) during the previous SAD-BJP regime.


Cheema, Johl resign
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Punjab advocate-general Rajinder Singh Cheema today resigned immediately after the defeat of the Amarinder government.

He called on Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at his official residence in the afternoon to hand over the resignation which has been accepted, it is learnt.

Deputy chairman of the Punjab Planning Board S.S. Johl has also resigned.

Meanwhile, senior officers today called on Capt Amarinder Singh at his residence. Otherwise, no senior Congress leader, except Youth Congress worker Vijay Inder Singla, was present at the residence of the Chief Minister.

However, his personal staff, including some of the officers on special duty, were present.


Former colleagues of Badal lose
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Even as a large number of sitting Congress ministers have lost their seats , many former ministerial colleagues of Parkash Singh Badal have also lost at the hustings.

Observers say that Badal would have to fall back on new MLAs while forming ministry. However, what could come to his rescue is the fact that in Punjab, the size of the ministry can no longer be of more than the fixed number of 18, courtesy the 91st Amendment , which restricts the size of the ministry to not more than 15 per cent of the total strength of the legislature.

Among the former ministerial colleagues of Badal who bit the dust are Baldev Singh Mann (Dirba), Tota Singh (Moga), Gurdev Singh Badal (Panjgrian), Balwinder Singh Bhunder (Sardulgarh), Sikandar Singh Maluka (Rampura Phul), Gobind Singh Longowal (Dhanaula), Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur (Ghanaur) and Narinder Singh (Nabha).


Jakhar victory margin up
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, February 27
The Congress has retained the seat with much improved margin of 18,500 votes in the victory of Sunil Jakhar, the youngest son of Madhya Pradesh Governor Balram Jakhar. He had won by 7,342 votes in 2002.

The electorate in this cotton-rich and politically sensitive constituency had earlier re-elected Balram Jakhar only in 1977. Credited with development projects, including 100 per cent rural electrification, after his entry in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1972 on the Congress ticket, Balram Jakhar had survived even when the ruling party faced unprecedented rout in the 1977 elections in the wake of the Emergency.

His eldest son Sajjan Kumar Jakhar was elected in 1980 to the Vidhan Sabha when Balram Jakhar won the Lok Sabha election from the Ferozepore constituency with the highest margin. However, the Congress lost the seat to newcomer Arjun Singh Siyag (BJP) in 1987.

The electorate of Abohar again voted for a change and facilitated the re-entry of Sajjan Kumar Jakhar to the Vidhan Sabha in 1992. He, as a member of the Beant Singh and Harcharan Singh Brar-led Cabinets, spent Rs 100 crore on the development. Greenhorn Ram Kumar Goyal of the BJP defeated him in 1997. This time Balram Jakhar, being Governor, did not visit Abohar to campaign for his son.


Kapurthala sole consolation
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 27
The Congress has almost been wiped out in its stronghold Doaba region. However, Kapurthala district is an exception where the party managed to secure 50 per cent seats.

The Congress has got only four of 25 seats in the Doaba region. While it has been totally wiped out in Nawanshahr district, the party has managed to secure one seat each in Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts.

It has won Kapurthala and Bholath seats out of four seats in Kapurthala district.

The Congress has broken the SAD citadel in Bholath where its candidate Sukhpal Singh Khaira defeated former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur by 8,864 votes.

Jalandhar MP Rana Gurjit Singh’s wife Rajbans Kaur (47,160) has won from the Kapurthala seat by a margin of 6,286 votes. She has defeated SAD candidate Raghubir Singh (40,874).


Loser crorepatis
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Today’s results for the 116 seats of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha hold out an important lessons to crorepati candidates: Money can’t always ensure victory.

A large number of crorepati candidates lost at the hustings, with many not even among the first three.

The fabled riches of former SGPC chief and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidate Bibi Jagir Kaur could not ensure her a victory. She lost by 8,864 votes. In her affidavit submitted along with her nomination papers, Bibi had declared assets of almost Rs 89 crore.

Among the other crorepatis who were humbled are outgoing ministers Avtar Henry (Rs 4 crore) from Jalandhar North, Gurkanwal Kaur (Rs 3.5 crore) from Jalandhar Cantt, Mohinder Singh Kaypee (Rs 3 crore) from Jalandhar South, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh (Rs 2.25 crore) from Kartarpur and Ashwani Sekhri from Batala and Raghnath Sahaipuri from Sujanpur.

Liquor baron Jagdish Singh Garcha lost to his crorepati opponent Jasbir Singh Khangura of the Congress (Kila Raipur), who is worth over Rs 10 crore.

Among the other super-rich candidates from the SAD fold who have not won are Sarup Chand Singla (Bathinda), Kushal Deep Singh (Faridkot), Malkiat Singh Keetu (Barnala) and Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar.


Victory march of Kangar stoned; 5 hurt

Bathinda, February 27
Nine persons, including four women and a child, were injured when a group of men pelted stones at the victory procession of Congress candidate from Rampura Phul Gurpreet Singh Kangar at Bhagta Bhai village here today.

According to sources, a few men allegedly owing allegiance to defeated SAD candidate Sikander Singh Maluka pelted stones at Kangar supporters who were celebrating their leader's victory. Four injured women were admitted to the civil hospital in Bhagta, while 20-year-old Kuldeep Singh was admitted to a private Bathinda hospital in critical condition.

He reportedly received a head injury. A 10-year-old boy named Gursewak Singh also sustained injury on the nose and was rushed to hospital. The Dayalpura SHO said the incident was the result of an old rivalry between Bhagta Bhai sarpanch Jarnail Singh and a FCI union member. Maluka said those who pelted stones were not his supporters. He alleged that it was Kangar's supporters who had incited them to violence. — TNS


Mann loses from Phagwara
Tribune News Service

The BJP-SAD candidate, Ch Swarna Ram, wrested the seat from the Congress candidate and former Cabinet Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, by defeating him with a margin of 9,605 votes. The result was withheld for one hour and a half due to a snag in one of the electronic voting machines (EVM).

The EVM, having 551 votes of booth No 39, developed the snag. SDM-cum-Returning Officer Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal then faxed messages to the Election Commission in New Delhi and the Chief Electoral Officer, Chandigarh.

The Election Commission permitted the RO to declare the result, deeming 551 votes as cancelled, since the victory margin of Ch Swarna Ram was higher than the uncounted votes of the faulty EVM.

While Ch Swarna Ram got 47,906 votes, his rival Mr Joginder Singh Mann got 38,301 votes. BSP candidate Harbhajan Singh Balalon came third with 12,210 votes. Five other candidates forfeited their deposits.


SAD-BJP MLAs to meet today

Chandigarh, February 27
President of the Shiromani Akali Dal Parkash Singh Badal today convened a meeting of newly elected MLAs of the alliance here tomorrow. According to SAD secretary Daljit Singh Cheema, the meeting will be at noon at Punjab Bhawan here. — TNS


SAD takes Sirhind, Cong wins Amloh
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 27
As per the election results declared today, the SAD won the Sirhind seat and the Congress won the Amloh seat.

Didar Singh Bhatti defeated Harbans Lal by 20,340 votes in Sirhind and Sadhu Singh Dharmsot defeated Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal by 5,952 votes in Amloh.


Robbers kill bank gunmen, decamp with Rs 2.5 lakh
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 27
A gang of four robbers today robbed a rural branch of the State Bank of India at Talwandi Maliyan and decamped with Rs 2.5 lakh after firing at the gunman on duty that eventual proved fatal for him.

Four robbers came to the bank in broad daylight and before entering the premises fired a shot at gunman Darshan Singh, causing a serious injury to him. As the robbers entered the bank they threatened the staff with dire consequences if they did not cooperate with them. After this the robbers collected Rs 2.5 lakh from the strong room and fled.

Sources in the police stated that the vehicle used by the robbers had been identified. Senior officials maintained that the bank staff had told the police that they would be able to identify the robbers if they were produced before them.

After receiving the information the police immediately swung into action and checkposts were put up at several places in the district to nab the absconders. Besides, senior officials also reached the bank to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, gunman Darshan Singh was rushed to the civil hospital at Moga from where he was referred to Ludhiana. But he died on his way to the hospital. The police later registered a case against four unidentified persons for having killed a gunman on duty and robbing a bank. The police said during the preliminary investigations it had established that the robbers were armed with a pistol and a gun.


Proclaimed offender arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 27
The Majitha police today arrested Resham Singh, a resident of Thathi village, who was a proclaimed offender in a murder case registered at Lopoke police station.

Majitha SSP Lok Nath Angra said that Resham Singh had shot dead Satinder Pal Singh of the same village over a property dispute. The Lopoke police had registered a case under sections 302, 148, 149 and 120-B, IPC, and section 25 of the Arms Act on the statement of Prem Singh, a relative of the deceased.

He was also wanted in another case registered under section 324 and 323, IPC, at the same police station for attacking and causing hurt by a dangerous weapon to the complainant.


SAD-BJP win boosts protesting teachers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Members of Substitute Computer Teachers Union, Punjab, who were retrenched during the Congress government, today distributed sweets following the victory of SAD-BJP alliance in the state.

The protesting teachers have been sitting on a dharna for the past over two months. Expressing hopes on the promises made by SAD president Parkash Singh Badal, the president of the union said they were optimistic that their miseries would end soon.

The union members had ended their fast-unto-death on the 38th day after SAD general-secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal assured them of the job when his party came to power. The protesting teachers had extended their support to the SAD-BJP alliance following assurances.


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