P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Chaos ruled supreme
Kanwaljit admonishes Mohali DC, SSP
Tribune News Service

Former Haryana Chief Minister O.P. Chautala greets senior SAD leader Capt Kanwaljit Singh.
Former Haryana Chief Minister O.P. Chautala greets senior SAD leader Capt Kanwaljit Singh. — A Tribune photograph
Navjot Sidhu with Sukhbir Badal at the swearing-in ceremony.
Navjot Sidhu with Sukhbir Badal at the swearing-in ceremony. — A Tribune photograph

Mohali, March 2
Poor management and chaos marked the oath-taking ceremony of the Punjab cabinet at the PCA Stadium here today.

A section of people occupied chairs meant for MLAs and some in the front enclosures did not even stand in respect for the national anthem at the start of the ceremony. When the function ended, people in special enclosures got up and started walking away or calling out their friends. Others tried to climb on to the stage, much to the irritation of those standing attention for the national anthem.

When the ceremony was to start, senior leader Capt Kanwaljit Singh had to come on stage. He took the mike in hand and asked the people to vacate the chairs as several MLAs were sitting on the ground.

He went on to admonish the DC and the SSP, saying the arrangements were inadequate and there was total confusion. "It is deplorable that the officers are sitting on chairs while elected representatives are sitting on the ground".

Capt Kanwaljit Singh called out to the DC, Mohali, to take charge of the situation. He called out to Home Secretary B.C. Gupta, seated at in the officers enclosure, saying "Gupta Saheb, please intervene and get things moving". He asked about the identity of a man sitting in rows reserved for MLAs and asked the police to remove him.

He also instructed the police to provide a corridor for VIP entry. When Parkash Singh Badal came on stage, he had to ask some youth to be quiet and let the job at hand finish.

Entry into the stadium was chaotic. It was more pushing and jostling. The gates of the stadium were closed time and again. Security personnel accompanying VVIPs like L.K. Advani, Narendra Modi or Farooq Abdullah, all in the Z-plus security category, were jittery. None of the people sitting in the invitees’ enclosure close to the VVIPs were frisked.


Tough call for Badal
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, March 2
The Punjab electorate has proved that it is discriminating as well as demanding.Mr Parkash Singh Badal is back in power.His intensive campaigning has paid him well. But right from the start he knew he would need the support of the BJP.

He kept the BJP leaders in good humour and their presence was visible during the poll campaign. Now, it will be a tight-rope walk for him. As an Akali leader, his anxiety will be to keep the Sikhs in good humour, but this may not be easy for him because of the BJP.

Capt Amarinder Singh had successfully negated Mr Badal's slogan of the “ Congress being the main enemy of the Sikhs.” The Captain drove home the point that he was as committed a Sikh as any Akali leader.

It was this image of Capt Amarinder Singh that helped the BJP to consolidate votes in urban areas. Hence, the Akali-BJP alliance success cannot be taken as transfer of votes either ways.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal was presented as a tested ally of the BJP since the Jansangha days.

Also, the Congress during its five-year rule did not come out with any substantial programme to help trade and industry.The Congress government looked after the interests of the corporate sector alone. Nothing was done for the small-scale industry.

There is no doubt that governance in Punjab has all these years been far from satisfactory.The tirade by Capt Amarinder Singh against corruption did not make much headway and seemed more like political vendetta. As a result, Mr Badal earned people’s sympathy. 


5-year test begins
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
All roads led to the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium even before the Akali-BJP team arrived to play five-year test match with the state of Punjab this morning.

As cheerful flags dotting the road leading to the stadium fluttered in the wind, the crowd started to land in chartered buses, and even trucks, after leaving behind the pavilion of their houses.

They rolled on the road with the grace of a short-length ball as police defences fell in quick succession like wickets. Efforts by the cops to field the traffic rushing towards the boundary of excitement proved futile as the spectators left behind their vehicles all around the pitch haphazardly.

Even before the ceremony to declare the Badals the men of the election-series started, Dussehra Ground was filled to the brim with extra spectators placing themselves across the field. In fact, the crowd made the field look small as it managed to pile over 50 centuries between the tea and the lunch hours.

Inside the stadium, the crowd rose to applaud as team-captain Parkash Singh Badal arrived with his political squad to perform on a wicket that looked favourable for a long batting innings. 


First woman cabinet minister from Amritsar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Luxmi Kanta Chawla
Luxmi Kanta Chawla

Amritsar, March 2
After the regime of Partap Singh Kairon, who had inducted Dr Parkash Kaur Dhillon as state minister, Luxmi Kanta Chawla becomes the first woman from Amritsar to become cabinet minister in the Badal government today.

Dr Dhillon had a stint as deputy minister, from 1957 to 1962 she was later inducted into the government of Gurmukh Singh Musafir as education minister.

Interestingly, both Kairon and Musafir belonged to Amritsar. Dhillon was elected MLA four times from Majitha, now represented by Bikram Singh Majithia, brother-in-law of Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Another woman who represented the Punjab Assembly was Vimla Dang. She was elected from Amritsar West in 1992.

However, she failed to get a ministerial berth.

Chawla started her political career in 1967 as a youth leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. She has a number of achievements to her credit during her political career spanning over 34 years. She was instrumental in opening of Government College for Boys, which was later closed.

Currently the state vice-president of the BJP, Chawla remained member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for two consecutive terms from 1992 and 1997. She lost in 2002 to Prof Darbari Lal.

The firebrand leader is known for her crusade against police atrocities and social evils like female feticide and domestic violence against women.

The BJP stalwart is a law graduate with postgraduation in three subjects.


Mattewal takes over as AG for third time
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Former advocate-general (AG) and senior Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer Hardev Singh Mattewal today evening took charge as the Punjab AG for the third time.

The notification regarding his appointment was issued by the Governor on the advice of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Like his last tenure, Mattewal has again been granted the status and rank enjoyed by a Cabinet minister.

While assuming charge, he was accompanied by SAD general secretary and Lok Sabha member Sukhbir Singh Badal, many MLAs, senior advocates, etc.

A practising advocate since 1973, Mattewal was AG from June 26, 1990, to June 28, 1991, and from October 6, 1998, to February 28, 2002. He is an acclaimed for his grip on criminal, service and Constitutional law and has handled cases for many state governments, including the present Congress government in Himachal Pradesh.

He has remained chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana as well as dean, Faculty of Law, Guru Nanak Dev University.

He is also the only AG to have been conferred the prestigious award of Panth Rattan by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for his service to society. Incidentally, in the past over two decades, Mattewal has handled all legal work of the SGPC without charging any fee.

Last year, he was also honoured by Toronto-based Asian Connections Radio and a host of NRI organisations at Canada for providing free legal consultancy to NRIs through a fortnightly one-hour live programme on the Legal Helpline broadcast on Asian Connections since the past two years.

Till yesterday, he was also the lead counsel in the ongoing corruption case against Parkash Singh Badal and his family.

After taking charge today, Mattewal told The Tribune that he first priority would be to streamline the functioning of the law offices of the Punjab government to ensure that the government does not lose any case for want of proper legal backing.

Asked if he would continue to be the counsel for the Badal family in its cases, Mattewal replied in the negative. To another question as to whether the government would take back the corruption and criminal cases foisted on the Akali leaders by the previous Congress government, Mattewal said the law would take its own course.

“We shall respect and seek guidance of the courts. Wherever the judiciary tells us that any action of our government is wrong and illegal, we will immediately take corrective steps. I feel this is how a democratically-elected government should function,” he said.

Asked when he would have a team of new law officers, Mattewal said the process would be started soon and merit would be foremost criteria while choosing the law officers.


RI Singh is Chief Secy, NPS Aulakh DGP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
As expected, the Punjab Government decided to appoint Ramesh Inder Singh and NPS Aulakh as Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police.

Since both Ramesh Inder Singh and NPS Aulakh are on deputation with the Union Government, present incumbents KR Lakhanpal and Rajdeep Singh Gill will continue to hold the fort till their successors report back for new assignments.

Ramesh Inder Singh is director-general of the Employees State Insurance Corporation and NPS Aulakh special director-general of police in the BSF.

The government also decided to post Gagandip Singh Brar of provincial civil service as deputy principal secretary to the Chief Minister.


Dhindsa — a gentleman politician
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 2
MLA from Sunam Parminder Singh Dhindsa (33) is the only SAD legislator from Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa and Bathinda districts who succeeded in getting a berth in the Cabinet of Parkash Singh Badal today.

Parminder Singh has made a hat-trick by winning the Sunam assembly seat. First time he clinched the Sunam seat in a byelection in September 2000 when the seat fell vacant due to the sudden death of Congress MLA Bhagwan Dass Arora. In the February 2002 assembly elections, he won the seat from Congress candidate Sonia Deepa Arora, a daughter of late Bhagwan Dass Arora. In the recent elections he defeated Congress candidate Aman Arora, a son of late Bhagwan Dass Arora.

Parminder Singh Dhindsa, a son of Sangrur MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is an MBA. He is popular among the people as a soft-spoken person and a gentleman politician.

Expressing happiness over the induction of Parminder Singh into the Cabinet, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said now Parminder would be able to serve not only his own Sunam constituency but also the entire Sangrur district as well as the state.


Singla vows to work for public
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 2
“I will continue to strive hard for the development of the holy city by urging the central and the state governments to start various projects for the benefit of the people,” said Surinder Singla, former state finance minister, here today.

Talking about his 16-point programme for the city, Singla said though he had been defeated in the elections he would continue to serve the people of the city and make every effort by urging the government to initiate various projects.

Singla, who had secured more than three lakh votes, said he was overwhelmed by the huge response given by the people and had been indebted to them as they had reposed faith in him within a short span of 14 days.

On his defeat, Singla without pinpointing any one said a high-powered committee appointed by party chief Sonia Gadhi would look into various aspects of the party’s debacle in the recently held elections.

Meanwhile, the resurgent Navjot Singh Sidhu has chalked out a comprehensive plan of action to resurrect the beleaguered city. Once again on the centrestage of the SAD-BJP alliance victory, Sidhu has plans to give top priority to improve the civic amenities.

Expressing concern over the total collapse of the education system in the border region of the district, Sidhu said he would embark upon the total revamp of rural education institutions.

Without promising moon for the industry, Sidhu said he would work hard to establish special economic zone to resurrect the sagging industrial morale of this area. He said he would ensure that the city emerges as a major industrial and commercial hub of this border state.


A matter of faith: Straight to temples
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Parkash Singh Badal’s cabinet will leave for Amritsr tomorrow to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and Durgiana Temple and to pay floral tribute to martyrs at Jallianwala Bagh.

“ We would pray to the Almighty to give us blessings to run the government honestly.

Badal said portfolios to the ministers would be allotted after the visit to Amritsar.

He said he would attend the political conference at Anandpur Sahib.


Badal for revival of Vidhan Parishad
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said he would try to revive the Vidhan Parishad.

Earlier too he had approached the Union Government in this regard. He said he would send a fresh proposal to the Centre on the issue. that was abolished in 1969.

At present five states-Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, J and K and Maharashtra-have a Vidhan Parishad.


Help centre for small tax payers

Patiala, March 2
The Income Tax Department, as part of its initiative to assist small tax payers fulfil their tax obligations, has set up a help centre at the State Bank of Patiala, Personal Banking Branch, Leela Bhawan, which will remain operative till March 31. The centre shall remain open from Monday to Friday between 2 pm to 5 pm. All tax-related queries shall be entertained at the centre. — TNS


Pak national arrested

Amritsar, March 2
A Pakistani national who allegedly tried to travel on the Lahore-bound Samjhauta Express without any valid documents has been arrested here.

Amjad Ali, hailing from Mustafabad in Lahore, had come to India without a valid passport or visa in November last year and was trying to board the train last evening when he was caught by Railway Protection Force personnel, officials said.

When the train was getting ready to leave for Pakistan from the Attari railway station, Ali jumped from the railway over-bridge to the tracks and tried to enter the train by evading security personnel. But he failed in his attempt.

During an interrogation, Ali revealed that he entered India by hiding in a toilet in the Samjhauta Express. Though he was intercepted at Attari, he managed to escape.

Ali visited Gorakhpur and Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Mumbai, Ajmer and New Delhi during his stay in India. He spent the last few days at a religious site in Amritsar, officials added. A knife, telephone diary, a wristwatch and two bottles of whisky were also found from him. — PTI



81 students awarded at college function
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 2
The Government Bikram College of Commerce organised its 82nd annual prize distribution function here today. Welcoming the chief guest and other dignitaries, principal Bupinder Kaur read out the annual report. She apprised the chief guest of the various achievements of students in the different fields.

Chief guest Sucha Singh Gill, dean academics, Punjabi University, appreciated the hard work and achievements of the students. He advised them to achieve excellence in their respective streams.

Two students were decorated with the roll of honour for excellence in sports at the university level. The college colour was awarded to 40 students for excelling in academics, cultural and other co-curricular activities while 39 students were given merit certificates for their overall performance.

As many as 81 students were given prizes during the function. The function was largely attended by former principals, retired teachers and other dignitaries.


Sangrur girl ranked 37th in AIIMS exam
Tribune New Service

Sangrur, March 2
Payal Verma, daughter of a local bank employee Arvind Verma, has brought laurels to the town by getting 37th rank in the All India Postgraduate Entrance Examination 2007 for the Master's degree in dental surgery (MDS), conducted by the AIIMS, New Delhi.

Payal completed her Bachelor's degree in dental surgery (BDS) from Government Dental College, Patiala, in June 2006.


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