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Curtains on campaigning
Tribune News Services

Chandigarh, May 11
With the campaigning for the fifth phase of the elections on May 13 coming to an end today, the city witnessed stalwarts from Bihar chipping in for their respective candidates in the city.

Shotgun Shatrughan Sinha sought votes for BJP’s Satya Pal Jain while Lalu Prasad Yadav canvassed for RJD candidate Anwar ul Haq.

As many as 14 candidates, including Independents, are in the fray for the lone seat. For over two months, political parties put in sustained efforts to ensure the victory of their candidates. From calling big shots to address rallies to bringing familiar faces of the party, none of them was far behind in the race.

The BJP won hands down if calling national leaders was anything to go by. From Arun Jaitely to Sushma Swaraj, ID Swami to BC Khanduri, Kiran Ghai to Shatrughan Sinha and Narendra Modi, all visited the city for Jain’s campaign.

While for the Congress, what could have been above party president Sonia Gandhi addressing a massive rally here. Besides her, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda, senior leader Mohsina Kidwai and Vinod Sharma canvassed for Pawan Bansal.

Similarly, BSP supremo Mayawati, and party general secretary Satish Mishra also sought votes for their local candidate Harmohan Dhawan. JDU’s Sharad Yadav campaigned for his party’s candidate BV Goswami.

Unlike previous elections in the city, this time even the Election Commission’s office has received a record number of complaints regarding the violation of the election code of conduct.

Most of the complaints involved the three main parties -- the BJP, BSP and the Congress.

While MP Bansal courted trouble over the inauguration of a renovated swimming pool at the Chandigarh Press Club, his opponents Jain and Dhawan had to pay the price for burning Bansal’s effigy.

While poll pandits believe Bansal was initially riding high on his previous two successful terms, it was BJP’s regressive campaigning which has helped the party make inroads in periphery colonies which once used to be Bansal’s stronghold.

Much depends on the voter turnout on May 13. Going by the fourth phase of the polls, wherein Mumbai, contrary to expectations, recorded only 44 per cent turnout and some constituencies of Punjab witnessed 65 per cent turnout, the polling percentage could tilt the balance either way. Going by the 2004 election trend, there was a thin line that divided the percentage of rural and urban voters.

Meanwhile, some residents have this to say for the political parties: “Chandigarh has always been a peaceful city and so has the process of electioneering. But with the increase in political parties, on the lines of other big states, it’s just getting murkier.” 

The returning officer while reviewing the poll arrangements today notified that after the lapse of the prescribed time for campaigning, as per Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, no person shall convene, hold or attend, join or address any public meeting or procession in connection with an election or display to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus or propagate any election matter to the public by holding or by arranging the holding of, any music concert or any theatrical performance or any other entertainment or amusement with a view to attracting the members of public thereon, in any public area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll.

Any person who contravenes these provisions, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or both.

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Allegations as usual at debate
Candidates meet at Press Club
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Allegations and counter allegations marred the debate among Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal, BJP’s Satya Pal Jain and BSP’s Harmohan Dhawan at the Chandigarh Press Club here today.

Contrary to Le Corbusier’s plans that the city should not go for vertical growth or big buildings, Jain and Dhawan promised the construction of flyovers, permission to build additional floors, introduction of metro, conversion of SCFs into SCOs, ownership rights and tourism impetus.

Jain advocated that with the increase in population and vehicular traffic, flyovers and metro rail would be essential.

“The Zirakpur flyover was originally the brainchild of the BJP. However, the Congress delayed its construction by stopping funds for nearly two years. Now, when it has been completed, they want to take credit,” he said.

Disapproving the need for more flyovers in the city, Bansal said: “I personally feel that vertical growth points toward the deterioration of the heritage of our city. The roads need to be widened up to eight lanes. Moreover, the metro rail would not be feasible in the city without the collective efforts of the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and HP.”

It was only when Dhawan said it was the job of professionals to see the feasibility of infrastructure, the debate took another direction.

While Bansal opined that the MC would be equipped with more powers by implementing the Mayor-in-council system for timely infrastructural growth of the city, Dhawan, calling MC a toothless body, said hardly any constructive decisions had got materialised. “All MC decisions face rejection at the administrative level and our local MP gives lame excuses that no officer listens to him,” he said.

Dhawan pointed out that Bansal in his five-year stint as MP had put forth 687 matters before Parliament, but hardly any project could get through. No IIT, IIM or central university status could be achieved due to lack of vision and faulty policies.

Providing affordable houses was the other prominent poll issue. Jain emphasised that the Chandigarh Housing Board which offered a two-room set for Rs 36 lakh should be dissolved and a new composition should be formed. “What is the logic of dumping over Rs 1,100 crore FDRs in banks when the board fails to provide reasonably priced houses?” he questioned.

Dhawan stressed that the Congress made false promises of compensating the ’84 riot victims, extending “lal dora” and provided meagre compensation to farmers after acquiring their land.

Bansal clarified that the letter of the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill was stalled by the BJP. On the other hand, terming the Congress a pack of cards, Jain said it was during the Congress regime when farmers committed suicides, ex-servicemen returned their medals, youngsters became jobless and people faced inflation.

Independents miffed

Eight Independents gathered in front of the Press Club to lodge their protest for not giving them equal opportunity as was extended to the other three candidates.

Kafil Ahmad, Khem Lal Bansal, Maya Devi, Ram Pal Hans, SK Suri, Darshan Singh and Ajay Goyal left flowers at the Press Club as a parting tribute to the integrity of the media.

Sarbjeet Pandher, president of the club, said: “The club is not a platform to give fillip to the campaign of any candidate. Three main contenders were called as per the Election Commission’s guidelines. Even Doordarshan and All India Radio called the main contenders. Moreover, it was not feasible to accommodate all candidates for a debate. Only one candidate, Ajay Goyale, approached us, but by then, everything had been finalised and the programme could not be changed.”

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For realtors, politics means business
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali/Fatehgarh Sahib, May 11
Some people do ape characters in reel life. Apparently, taking a cue from the character of Lucky Singh, a property dealer in “Lage Raho Munna Bhai” who likes to photograph himself with political stalwarts and Bollywood stars, several realtors in the region are patronising political parties.

The trend has caught the fancy of big and small property dealers alike in Mohali, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts, where there was real estate boom before recession set in.

Many property dealers have joined the rank and file of political parties. At the district and block-level committees, the number of realtors-turned-politicians is high.

Harjinder Singh, secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, says politics dominates every sphere of life. Politics offers patronage to realtors who are at times harassed by various agencies while executing a land deal.

The promoter of a Kharar-based enclave and former vice-president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, JS Bajwa, agrees that it helps, but adds “sometimes we faces problems also”.

It is not that only property dealers benefit from politics, political parties also rely on realtors who have strong contacts at the village level as they execute land deals.

Kuldeep Singh Jhampur, secretary of the Youth Akali Dal, who has executed land deals, says there is a lot of similarity between politics and real estate. Both professions rely on contacts.

On the condition of anonymity, a number of political leaders admit that they are actively involved in land deals as money is required in politics.

“Realtors are often targeted in shady land deals executed at the behest of bigwigs. In some cases, the families of bigwigs are in the real estate business,” they say.

In the run-up to the polling, property dealers have been organising binge parties on behalf of candidates and are offering their vehicles and funds for canvassing.

A tour of the area reveals that some of the realtors along the Mohali-Fatehgarh Sahib road, Mohali-Banur road and Mohali-Kharar roads have put up hoardings and flags of political parties on their premises.

Harjeet Bhullar, president of the kisan manch of the Mohali district unit of the BJP, says position in the party commanded respect as officials did not harass.

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VC proposes grade system from next yr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Panjab University from the coming session will switch to the UGC recommended grade system to evaluate the performance of students.

Dr RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, today proposed the implementation of the grade system at a joint meeting of department heads.

They have been asked to judge its feasibility, in their respective streams, and based on their feedback, the system will be implemented from the coming session.

“The university follows all the recommendations of UGC. It aims at doing away the traditional system of divisions and subjectivity in marking. The plan is on for quite some time but today I have directed all departments to give me a feedback,” said Sobti.

In a letter addressed to all vice chancellors, UGC as a part of its 11 plan, had suggested that the grade system should be introduced on a nine-point scale and Cumulative Grade Point Score (CGPS) in order to make evaluation system at par with the best practices.

“We have been trying to bring PU at par with the best universities and this shall be a major step. We are also looking for other UGC recommended practices to implement,” concluded Sobti.

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Man gets life term for killing wife
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Additional District and Sessions Judge Raj Rahul Garg today sentenced Sunil to life imprisonment for battering his wife to death. In one of the speediest trials, the court also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Sunil, a resident of Indira Colony, Manimajra.

After the orders were pronounced, the counsel for the victim said: “We were not given enough time to hold the trial and were not informed when the charges were framed.”

Talking to mediapersons, public prosecutor Manu Kakkar said generally, the challan was presented by the police within 90 days of the crime, however, in this case, they had concluded the trial within 82 days of the crime.

According to the prosecution, Sunil had murdered his wife Kiran on February 17 by hitting a log on her head.

The court had earlier summoned the prosecution witnesses and evidence of the trial was closed in one day and the case was adjourned for final arguments.

The eight prosecution witnesses were summoned yesterday and they got their statement recorded.

The couple had entered into an altercation after Sunil demanded money for liquor. She refused and he hit her on the head. Sandeep, an eyewitness and son of the deceased, stated before the court that he went to his maternal grandmother’s house as his mother was bleeding.

When relatives of the deceased arrived, the accused ran away. The case was registered on the complaint of Ram Lakhan, brother of the deceased, and charges were framed on April 29.

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‘Why can’t Cong, BJP join hands?’
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
He comes across as a “suave” politician but prefers to call himself a “Bihari babu”. Retaining his superstar aura, Shatrughan Sinha, aka Shotgun, is indeed different from all others in his league. For who else could dare to raise the question as to why cannot the BJP and Congress come together to form a government in the Centre for stability in the country.

“If in Germany the opposition and the ruling party can form a government together, why not here? If the Congress can shake hands with DMK, if Lalu and Mulayam Singh can come together, why not the two biggest parties of the country for peace, progress and prosperity of the nation with a common minimum programme,” says Sinha, adding in the same breath, “I am saying this as an artiste, an individual and not in the capacity of a BJP leader. It’s food for thought,” he advocates.

Recalling his decision to plunge into politics, he said it was sheer love of veteran leader Jai Prakash Narayan that inspired him to join the bandwagon and claimed unlike others, he was the only one from his fraternity to have joined a political party which was in the opposition at that time.

“Now, they come without sparing any thought, without any commitment and any struggle behind them,” clearly indicating his opponent, Shekhar Suman.

Confident about his victory, he says, “Even if half of the love of people of Patna for me transforms into votes, I will win with a heavy margin,” he chuckles. On the prospects of the NDA forming a government at the Centre, he says, “The NDA is definitely coming in power. A lot of answering needs to be done by the Congress to the people of the country, especially on price rise, increasing unemployment, terrorism and black money horded in foreign banks. People are hurt and they are going to take revenge by means of vote,” he avers.

On a query pertaining to the BJP’s missing second rung leadership, Sinha says, “There is nobody who can match the energy level of LK Advani, for he is the youngest if his ability to work is anything to go by.”

Terming Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi as second-rung young leaders, and correcting himself immediately, he says, “Young brigade cannot substitute for experience which comes with age,” taking a dig at the Congress’ young face. 

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Lalu works magic on residents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Thousands of voters residing in the city, mainly those hailing from Western Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, today witnessed what they would have only been wishing for.
RJD supporters jostle for water at the rally venue in Sector 25, Chandigarh
RJD supporters jostle for water at the rally venue in Sector 25, Chandigarh, on Monday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

For, it’s not everyday that a leader from their homeland and that too Lalu Prasad Yadav comes face to face with them and talks in his chaste dialect, motivating them to them to push the right button on the EVM till they hear the beep.

Lalu, who was in the city to campaign for RJD candidate Hafiz Anwar ul Haq, addressed a huge gathering at Sector 25 and managed to generate euphoria among his admirers.

His crowd-pulling persona had everyone glued to their chairs, unmindful of the nearly two-hour delay. And, Lalu was in his element during his speech, which lasted 12 minutes.

Starting with an apology for not being able to visit the city before, he said it was in the hands of the voters here to bring about a change.

“From Indo-Pak wars to demolition of temples and mosques, the BJP has not given anything except destruction to the country,” he said.

Not leaving the opportunity to lash out on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Lalu said: “He has shown his true colours after the elections now by sharing a dais and embracing ‘killer’ Narendra Modi during an election rally at Ludhiana yesterday.”

Not sparing Varun Gandhi either for his hate speech in Pilibhit, he called him a “toddler who is yet to begin his political career and has said such nasty words”.

Giving the slogan “Hindu Muslim Sikh Isayee, sabka dushman Vajpayee”, he said: “LK Advani has no ‘PM’ stars in his birth chart”.

Predicting UPA’s success in the forthcoming elections, he said: “Mandate is out. Voting is just a formality.”

Counting his achievements as Railway Minister, he said he had raked in a profit of Rs 90,000 crore.

“People may be professors in a college or a university but I am a global professor, who teaches students from across the globe, from Harvard to Cambridge to Boston and others,” he said.

Asking those present to vote for Haq, he said: “You vote for him and get him elected to Parliament and I promise to take care of you all.”

BSP worker assaulted

A supporter of the BSP was allegedly roughed up by supporters of the RJD outside the rally venue. According to eyewitnesses, a resident of the colony next to the venue was carrying a BSP flag when a group of supporters allegedly belonging to the RJD assaulted him with bricks, leaving him seriously injured. The eyewitnesses claimed that two police constables came after an hour to rescue the victim.

Sidelights

n Lalu’s fans came on cycles, rickshaws and even on foot to catch a glimpse of their leader. Many of said they started as early as 8 am to reach the venue and grab a seat in the front

n During his speech, RJD candidate Anwar Ul Haq fumbled while recalling the name of Sharad Yadav, who had come to canvass for JD (U) candidate recently, and instead addressed him as Sharad Pawar

n To connect with the crowd, Anwar spoke in chaste Bihar dialect, too, and the crowd responded by clapping

n While Anwar’s second wife Naina shared the stage with her husband, his first wife Rihanna along with her mother Nayyad had to sit amidst the crowd

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Shotgun fires his salvo
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
His famous ‘Khamosh’ had made him a household name decades back. Years later, his charisma is no less. It has only grown and his political image has only added to it.

This was witnessed today at Mauli Jagran where this superstar-turned-politician addressed a rally in support of his party’s candidate Satya Pal Jain. “Unlike any other election rally, I am feeling as if this is a victory rally for Jain,” Shatrughan Sinha said looking at the crowd.On a more serious note, “Bihari babu” said poverty in India has gone up by 20 per cent according to government statistics.

Accusing the Congress-led UPA government of trying to suppress this report, he said: “The report is being suppressed so that people do not come to know of this fact. A similar report from the United Nations Food Programme says that hunger is the biggest problem in India and yet this government claims “aam aadmi” is their priority,” he said.

He added that over one crore people lost jobs in the past one year alone. Where are the promises of the UPA government to provide jobs to one crore youths every year? he said. Taking a pot shot at the Congress, he said: “The Congress is down, the UPA is out.” He added that the defeat of the Congress was imminent. He said he believed in equality of all religions and in development. Advocating an NDA government at the Centre, he said: “LK Advani is the most suitable candidate for the post of Prime Minister. If we have to take the country forward, we must ensure victory of each BJP-NDA candidate.”Before winding up his speech just before the clock struck five and campaigning came to an end, Sinha urged people to vote for change in Bangla, Bhojpuri, Punjabi and Hindi.

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Road shows invite 178 challans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Cocking a snook at the traffic rules, political parties today showed their strength on city roads. Both the supporters of the Congress as well as the BJP took out a road show in jeeps and on two-wheelers, holding party flags, in different parts of the city.

The bikers cared little to wear helmets, while jeeps were found overloaded.

The Congress caravan started off from Sector 28, while the BJP workers commenced their rally from their office in Sector 33.

The bikers rode recklessly all over the city roads — some even pulling off stunts — thus giving a tough time to the traffic police.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh traffic police issued 178 challans to various motorists participating in the road shows for violating traffic rules and regulations.

A police officer said most of the offenders were booked for riding bike with more than two riders, riding without helmet and jumping red light besides other miscellaneous violations.

The challans would be sent through registered post to the owner of the vehicles.

The police said they did stop the violators, as they did not want to disturb the show and opted for sending tickets by post.

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Road shows on last day of canvassing
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 11
On the last day of the canvassing, senior leaders of the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) canvassed for their respective candidates from the Anandpur Sahib Parliamentary seat while holding road shows in the city. The BSP candidate, Kewal Krishan Chauhan, held the road show in Nayagaon and rural areas around the town.

While the SAD camp had an array of leaders like Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Avinash Rai Khanna, Kiranbir Singh Kang and NK Sharma, the Congress camp was managed by local MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu and Rajbir Singh Padiala.

BSP candidate Kewal Krishan, while addressing a rally, said he would bring mobile schools in the Kandi area as it was the most neglected area in the state. The shortage of water and Land Preservation Act were the other problems.

On the other hand, the Congress candidate, Ravneet Bittu, walked through the main bazaars greeting the shopkeepers. In the evening, the door-to-door campaign started. Rallies were also addressed in Shukrukanpur and Rasanheri villages.

Winding up the campaign, the SAD leaders led the road show, which passed through Phases I, II, III, V, IX, X and XI before culminating at Phase VII.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said Dr Manmohan Singh had to apologise to the country for 1984 anti-Sikh riots after he presented an adjournment motion in the Parliament. He said the Prime Minister had apologised to the nation for the incident, on the other hand, his own party had not consulted him while giving ticket to the person accused in the riots.

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Candidates turn to polling booths
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
With the campaigning din over for the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections, candidates for the lone seat of Chandigarh plan to spend the penultimate day of polling with their party workers, planning last-minute strategies for booth management.

Though feeling relaxed after a long campaigning, which ran almost two months, anxiety is far from over of candidates.

The next few days, till the declaration of results on Saturday, are going to be tough on candidates.

Talking with The Tribune, Congress’s Pawan Kumar Bansal, BJP’s Satya Pal Jain, BSP’s Harmohan Dhawan and Independent Ajay Goyal said Tuesday would be a crucial day for them as they would be taking stock of booth management strategy.

“With the city usually witnessing a low turnout from the urban areas, a major task will be to get voters out to vote,” they said.

Besides, the parties will also keep a watch on the activity of rival parties.

Bansal plans to visit those places that he could not visit during his two-month campaign and urge voters to vote for him.

He said he would also meet his workers, who had been assigned duties at polling stations to give them last-minute instructions.

Jain said he was planning to have a special meeting with his party’s polling agents and allocate them duties for the polling day.

He added the party was going to give the finishing touch to the polling preparation by cross-checking the arrangements made by them.

He would also meet people during door-to-door campaigning and also rope in people who are influential in their localities to get more votes.

Dhawan would visit polling station in both the city and villages to keep a check on poll material.

He said he had not scheduled any meeting with supporters, as he wanted to ensure proper arrangements at each polling station.

He said his party activists were going to distribute election slips carrying information of each voter going door to door.

Goyal, on the other hand, would concentrate on door-to-door meetings and spending the day with people, particularly those who were his solid supporters.

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Rising prices major plank, says BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh May 11
“Price rise is the single most important issue affecting everyone. If voted to power, the first endeavour of the BJP would be to check it,” national 
secretary of the party, Kiran Ghai, said here today.

Ghai said the Congress had failed drastically on both governance and policy matters across the country. The fate of the UPA, she claimed, was clear from the beginning as alliance constituents started deserting it even before the election notification was issued.

The people of Chandigarh needed a homogeneous leadership. “Their expectations have not been met and promises made to them have not been kept,” she said.

She said the promises made by the BJP in its manifesto were achievable. Rice for Rs 2 per kg and a wheat scheme had already been floated in at least two BJP-ruled states. The scheme for empowerment of women had already bore fruit in BJP states and it was seeking a mandate on the basis of tested policies.

Bansal’s padyatra

In a bid to accommodate as many areas as possible, Congress candidate Pawan Bansal went on a speedy padyatra and meetings at the PGI, Sectors 47, 45-D and 22-C and the motor market at Manimajra on the last day of the campaign.

He reiterated that issues, including adequate compensation to owners whose land had been acquired, would be resolved. He paid obeisance at a temple followed by a gurdwara and a church. Hundreds of persons residing at the PGI walked along with him.

CTCC president BB Bahl said it was a boon for Chandigarh that they had a tried and tested candidate like Bansal.

The Bharatiya Yuva Manch and the Saini Biradari declared its support to Bansal. A large number of doctors from the Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital Association in Sector 26 also supported Bansal.

Last-minute campaign

Banking on the BSP’s social engineering theory, its candidate Harmohan Dhawan expects a wind of change in his favour. He said villages in Chandigarh would be developed on the pattern of sectors.

He said during his term as MP, he got 4,200 licenses made and booths were also allotted. He was instrumental in the setting up of the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh, augmenting the third phase of Kajauli waterworks, construction of 12,000 houses for the rehabilitation of poor, B2 status to central government employees, implementation of Punjab pay scale to UT employees, etc.

He attended a public meeting at Maloya Colony. Accompanied by hundred of supporters, he started his cavalcade from the bus stand to the Maloya colony. Later, he addressed a public meeting at Dhanas and urged people to vote for change for better amenities.

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Vote and say cheers!
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
A city-based liquor trader has offered an incentive to those who cast their vote in the city on May 13. “After showing their index finger, the voters can claim discount on liquor purchased from me,” said the trader, Satya Pal.

Explaining the concept, he said every voter would be issued a discount card of two-month validity. Daily liquor worth Rs 80 lakh was sold in the city and if all such Bacchus lovers were motivated to cast their ballot, the percentage of polling would certainly go up, he opined.

“Once the liquor vends open after the polling, the voters can approach me and will get the discount,” he said, while defending his “jago re” campaign.

He said he was impressed with the national campaign aimed at bringing out voters in large numbers, but not many were motivated by it. Something extra was needed to bring out the voters, he added.

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Ban on sale, serving of liquor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
As the general election for the Chandigarh parliamentary constituency is scheduled on May 13, the District Magistrate has declared the period from 5 pm on May 11 to 5 pm on May 13 and complete day of May 16 as dry days.

According to an order, all liquor licencees (both wholesale and retail sale), hotels, restaurants, clubs, pubs, bars, etc. and other establishments that have been issued licences to sell/serve liquor have been prohibited to sell/serve during the period.

The decision has been taken keeping in view that the sale and service of liquor from liquor vends may cause hindrance in the smooth conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections and may cause problem in maintaining law and order, public peace and tranquility.

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2 companies for city police

Chandigarh, May 11
The Union Government has sanctioned two companies of paramilitary forces to the Chandigarh police for election duties.

Sources in the police said though two companies had been sanctioned, senior officers were writing to the government for more force. The police has been conducting flag marches across the city for the past couple of days to show the presence of police.

UT IG SK Jain will brief the force about the election duty tomorrow. All SHOs, in charges of various police posts and cells of the Chandigarh police have been instructed to improve co-ordination and communication networking to ensure peaceful elections in the city. — TNS

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Councillor’s corridor of power
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 11
Finding it an opportunity, the shopkeepers once again have started encroaching upon the corridors in the markets of the town when the administration was busy in conducting the parliamentary elections. The corridors meant for the visitors were vacated last year after vigorous efforts by the former Deputy Commissioner Rajender Kataria following complaints from the residents.

A visit by TNS team in the markets of Sectors 15, 7 and Swastik Vihar revealed that the shopkeepers have not only displayed the goods in the verandahs meant for visitors, some of them have even set up stalls blocking the corridors altogether.

On top of it, the violations were also being done by those who were supposed to check these. A verandah in front of a shop at Swastik Vihar, owned by family of local Municipal Councillor, is blocked as the shopkeeper has set up many stalls of eatables on the spot. At least two ice-cream refrigerators have been placed on the corridor and two vendors selling chat have also been allowed to sit on the corridor, converting it into a food street.

Though the officials at HUDA said their anti-encroachment drive was unabated, the sources in the administration said people at the enforcement wing were asked not to take strict measures till the election process was complete.

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Plan your trip in advance
Popular trains running jam packed this summer
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
If you presume a holiday plan with your family in this summer season will work out on the spur of moment, beware! Over confidence to get railway tickets can mar your plan.

With many trains, including the Jan Shatabdi (Chandigarh-Delhi), the Chandigarh-Lucknow Express, the Unchahar (Chandigarh-Allahabad), Paschim Express and the Jaipur-Chandigarh Gareeb Rath running fully booked this season, travellers may need to plan their trips much in advance to avoid a name in long waiting list.

“The trains, including Chandigarh-Lucknow, Unchahar Express and Gareeb Rath have become popular and specially because of summer holidays, the trains are running full,” said RK Saxena, additional divisional railway manager, Ambala Division, Northern Railways.

While the Jan Shatabdi is attracting the maximum crowd, especially on the weekends and Mondays, even the Dibrugarh-Chandigarh special train is running jam-packed.

“The fare of the Jan-Shatabdi has always attracted passengers. A fare as low as Rs 55 for children, Rs 77 for senior citizens and Rs 107 for general passengers, is a great relief,” said RK Dutta, station superintendent, Chandigarh Railway Station.

Among others, the only train to North-East, Dibrugarh-Chandigarh special train is now receiving tremendous response as Army men travelling to the region have it as a good option, said sources.

The Gareeb Rath (Train no. 2984), that runs via Ambala, Panipat, Rotak, Bhiwani and Rewari has hit the popularity chart with an average of 600 passengers travelling now as compared to an average of 240 passengers earlier.

With the reduced fare from Rs 686 to Rs 469, and the same facilities being offered, the train is in demand. The train, which also has 18 seats reserved for the disabled, is on the preference list of the passengers now. 

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RBI seeks advice on currency notes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is finally reaching out to the public. Concerned about the quality of currency notes in circulation, the apex regulatory bank has sought suggestions from schoolchildren across the region (by way of an essay writing competition), on how to keep currency notes clean and crisp.

Children from all over Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh participated in the competition and came up with suggestions like punishing those responsible for soiling the currency notes, misuse of notes in garlands and on effectively administrating the removal of torn/ soiled currency notes from circulation. What was amazing was the fact that children from rural areas in Zainabad (Rewari), Syri (Solan) and Samana (Patiala) came up with the best suggestions.

“The idea was to launch a financial education campaign for the children, but with the good suggestions offered by the children, we are amazed at their knowledge and are willing to take a few lessons from them,” said Dr J Saddakadulla, regional ditrector of RBI.

After the suggestions made by the children in the form of an essay was analysed by a jury appointed by the RBI, a prize distribution function was held here today. As many as 18 students were given away prizes. The prize winners are as follows:- Lokesh Yadav, Abhiruchi, Yamini Sharma, Sanchita Dhiman, Vikhyaat Mehta, Ekampreet Kaur, Pahur Jain, Gurleen Kaur, Aruna Devi, Gurnoor Kaur, Aashima Garg, Seema Devi, Ankush Gupta, Mohit Gupta, Sonika Sharma, Gurleen Kaur Babra, Kavita Sharma and Ajay Kumar. 

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Market suffers due to lack of amenities
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 11
The shopkeepers of Swastik Vihar market, set up 15 years ago, have been left in lurch as the market lacks the basic amenities while the development agencies pass the buck on each other. Though the Municipal Committee has been charging lakhs of rupees as land rent from the shopkeepers, many of them have been not provided any direct access from the road. A nullah passing in front of the market has not only left dozens of shops without any entry point, it made the situation worse with its stench and creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The market was constructed by a private company, Swastik Construction. It was owned by a prominent political family from the region and was set up in 1992, said the shopkeepers. Though at the time of selling the shops the construction company claimed that access would be provided to the shops by constructing a bridge over the nullah, nothing was done in this regard for almost around two decades, said Varun Gupta, running a hardware shop in the market.

Now, the construction company was saying that the land under the nullah was the property of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and they could not undertake any construction over there, said Gupta. In a market having 99 shops there is no space for toilets and the road is left without maintenance of years.

However, the Municipal Committee never forgets to collect the land rent from the market ranging between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 from every shop annually, said Harinder Singh, another shopkeeper.

Ravinder Rawal, president of the Municipal Committee, said the committee had the right to collect the rent against the property falling under its jurisdiction. HUDA officials, however, said it was a site being developed by a private construction company, which had to obtain the completion certificate from the Town and Country Planning Department, and they had nothing to do with their project. Moreover, they were not in any agreement with the company to construct a bridge for them, said HUDA estate officer SK Saini.

The general manager of Swastik Construction, VK Singh, on the other hand said shopkeepers should approach HUDA for the construction of bridge over the nullah as it was not their land.

On the issue of other amenities, he claimed that the company had already paid more than Rs 6 crore to HUDA against external development work in the area and even the land lying vacant in front of the market was handed over to HUDA for development.

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Health dept seizes intoxicating drugs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 11
The Punjab health department has seized more than 1.2 lakh capsules, 10,731 injections and 228 vials of banned intoxicating drugs from a wholesale veterinary pharmacist’s shop in Indira Market here today.

All the drugs seized by the department officials, led by civil surgeon Kuldip Kaur Saini and drug inspector Amit Kumar Duggal, were popular among addicts and were allegedly being sold by Paras Vet Pharma and Vinay Marketing Company, which, according to Duggal, failed to produce any purchase records.

The drugs, according to health officials, were seized following a tip-off that certain wholesalers were selling these drugs without valid documents or prescriptions. “The owners of firms could not produce any purchase documents, so we have resorted to seizure of the drugs,” said Duggal. He said drugs were worth about 
Rs 4.16 lakh.

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All set for 24-hr emergency ward
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , May 11
Residents of the city can now look forward to additional healthcare services. The primary health centre in Sector 22, now upgraded to civil block hospital, is set to launch its 24-hour emergency ward.

Currently, only the PGI, Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, and Government Multi-Speciality Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, offer emergency services.

In the civil block hospital segment, it will be the second after Mani Majra to offer such services. Once in operation, it will help contain overcrowding in emergency wards at the PGI, the GMCH, and GMSH.

Built at the cost of Rs 40 lakh, the fully equipped emergency ward with separate entry and approach will boost healthcare in a specialised manner and enable providing 24-hour emergency services to patients.

The construction work has been completed and equipment is being installed.

“Besides emergency services, we shall also provide referral services to critically ill patients,” said Dr Rajinder Sharma, SMO-cum-joint replacement orthopaedic surgeon.

It will also have an ECG facility and clinical laboratory for conducting all types of tests that are required in emergency cases.

Process for hiring additional staff and obtaining more equipment has been initiated.

“We also plan to hire experts for medical advice and surgeons for conducting operations on a pooling basis,” Dr Sharma added. 

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Scientists discuss advances in bio-nano technology
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
A brainstorming session on the role of Bio-Nano Photonics for healthcare and agriculture sectors marked the Technology Day at the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) here today. The session dealt with the use of molecular tools and molecular knowledge along with the technology of generating, transmitting and manipulating light to achieve scientific goals.

Inaugurating the event, Dr R K Khandal, Director, Shriram Institute for Industrial Research, Delhi stressed upon the need of finding out simple scientific and marketable solutions to complex problems. He said that the recent progress in Bio-Nano Technology and Photonics can be converged to devise various highly sensitive sensors for disease and pathogen detection.

In his address, Dr Pawan Kapur, Director, CSIO said that development in Bio--Nano Photonics was the Golden Jubilee Project of CSIO as the Institute has strong foundation in optics and photonics. He expressed hope that the combination of Bio--Nano Technologies would lead to creation of a new knowledge and innovation for the benefit of society.

Technology Day is observed to mark the successful nuclear tests, Shakti, conducted in Pokharan on May 11 1998. It was also on this day that the second prototype of the Hansa-3 aircraft undertook its inaugural flight and the Trishul missile was test--fired successfully.

Dr. Lalit M Bharadwaj, the convener of session presented the outline of the bio-photonics programme at CSIO and emphasised the need for innovation being the only way to have a quantum jump in economy.

The programme concluded with panel discussion where eminent experts expressed the need to network the specialists and laboratories in the region to pursue product--oriented research. During discussions, it was also felt that there was an urgent need for close private-public partnership in every research and development laboratory.

Dr S Arora of PGI, Chandigarh, Dr Harsh of Solid State Physical Laboratory, Delhi, Prof BR Mehta of IIT Delhi, Dr S Mokkapati of Indian Council of Medical Research, Delhi and Dr GV Ramaraju of Department of Information Technology, Delhi, presented technical papers related to nano-technology.

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Health tips given to mothers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
On the occasion of Mother's Day, a free health check-up camp was organised yesterday at Sant Isher Singh Public School, Mohali, in collaboration with Simply Health Plus.

Director Hardip Kaur Gill and principal Tarunvir Saini congratulated mothers and exchanged their views with mothers on their role in children’s life. School doctor from simply health plus gave useful health tips to mothers to keep themselves and their family fit.

Teachers also interacted with the mothers of the student on the issue “how mothers can help their children in studies”.

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Pt Debi Prasad spells sitar magic
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, May 11
The Baithak music concert at Pracheen Kala Kendra here today was a perfect union of melody and aesthetic potential as sitar maestro Pandit Debi Prasad Chatterjee, an alumnus and teacher from Shantinketan, spelt magic with his sitar.

His fine musical sensibility and style marked by “gayaki” bore the influence of his gurus Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Annapurna Devi and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

An original and vibrantly creative musician Debi Prasad commenced the concert delineating the melodic character of raga charukeshi through a relaxing alap jod followed by jhala. Debi Prasad showed his abundant imagination and technical virtuosity in full measure.

Debi Prasad was best displayed during his next offering of raga maanjh khamaj, exuding a romantic aura and a captivating comaposition in jhap taal, which later melted into a drut gat. The concert concluded with exposition of raga Sindh bhairavi in thumri style. He displayed excellent control in swara by combining the instrumental technicalities with a sense of proportion. The rhythm on the tabla was marked by Asit Lahiri, eminent tabla maestro of Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata.

Earlier, Shobha Koser, registrar of the Kendra honoured the artistes.

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SGPC member seeks probe
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 11
Hardeep Singh, a member of the SGPC, yesterday said two distorted Birs containing Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth in one binding was a matter of concern.

The Birs contain 2,830 and 2,858 pages, respectively, whereas the authentic and Sikh Panth approved version of Sri Guru Granth Sahib contains 1,430 pages.

Addressing a press conference, he said the addition and alteration was as an act of sacrilege. In a letter to the SGPC president, he demanded a thorough probe into the matter by Sikh scholars and members of the SGPC.

He requested the SGPC not to take any hasty step of destroying the evidences of the conspiracy and go for testing the paper, ink, printing and binding by experts.

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City Scope Letters
Urban masses should pitch in, too

This is with reference to the article, “I’ll vote. Will you?” written by Raveen Thukral published on May 4, 2009, in Chandigarh Tribune. There are many others, including some NGOs, who are motivating the voters to cast their franchise. Consequently, the voting turnout has been at larger as 75 per cent in West Bengal in the fourth round of elections held on April 7. On the basis of experience, much need for corrective action. The time has come for us to seriously consider over this gigantic problem as the entire democracy depends upon the voter turnout.

Elite class in the city shows little enthusiasm, where voters prefer to use the holiday to catch up with other works or just spend time more leisurely disregarding the democratic character of our country. Such a voting behaviour clearly shows that neither they believe nor do they require this kind of democracy.

They, while sitting in air-conditioned rooms, are the worst ever critics of the system. The second biggest reason is that people largely vote for good governance, basic amenities, infrastructure, security and the like. The manifestoes issued by various political parties remain on paper. Thus people have lost their confidence against those who are once elected. It would be better to quote a news item, where the residents of entire Sector 45 have decided not to cast their vote because of the callous and indiscriminate behaviour of the elected representatives towards the development of this sector. Similar views have also expressed at various places across the country. Even at places to get the confidence of the candidates, people wanted to have their affidavits.

In practice, electoral battle has become the monopoly of moneyed bigwigs and in most cases of hard-boiled criminals, which led to low turn of voting, not only in the city but in the entire country. Someone has very aptly remarked that political parties put rotten apples before us and give us the option to choose any one of them. Under these extenuating circumstances, people are loosing their confidence in our electoral system.

It is only the electoral reforms, which are the need of the hour. We have to evolve a plausible method. One of the measures, Election Commission should recommend to the government to make amendment in the Representation of People Act 1951 in a manner that casting of vote should be made compulsory for all.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

II

The elections for the fourth phase have been held till now. The fifth and last round of elections will be held next week. This time, the numbers of voters are increasing but position is still not satisfactory.

The doctors, engineers, educationists, thinkers and students do not cast their votes due to their valid reasons. The deciding factors of elections are the votes of poor people, who are lured for some money on the Election Day. The State Election Commission cannot force the voters to participate in elections process since the government has not given any big privilege to the voters.

The election commission in Delhi has declared that those persons, who will not cast their votes, will be called “Pappu” but now they withdraw the slogan. A para of conduct of Election Rules-1961 says that voters may or may not cast the vote. If the voters are not satisfied with their candidates, they can demand Form No 49-O from the returning officer at the polling booth. The NGOs, university students, printed and electronic media and many Internet sites have advised the voters to cast their votes to form the next government at the Centre. The websites have given the details of the elections. The site www.jaagore.com - The Jaago Re One Billion Votes Campaign Website - Wake up India is quite active for the voters.

ML Garg, Chandigarh

III

It was really informative and motivating write-up. We should know that voting is not only our right but a duty also. Our vote is the most powerful tool in our hands, which we should use with full force.

India is the largest Democracy in the world, by virtue of which the people have the ability to change all that is bad and steer the country in the right direction to make it one of the greatest nations in the world. However, this will not happen if all we do is complain about it without taking action. If we want things to change then we should affect that change. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Be that change; get involved in the Democratic process. Get out and vote, because this is not only our privilege but also our absolute responsibility and duty.

We owe that to the forefathers, who sacrifice their lives for the freedom, we are enjoying today. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “ The way to mend the bad world is to create the right world.” Help create that right world by casting vote. Make the election a great middle class and youth movement like the Americans did in electing Obama. Remember every vote counts, make your vote count as well!”

Charu Mehrotra, Mohali

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Aptitude test fails to take off
No councillor to conduct exam
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Class X pass outs, who were keen to take the aptitude test in order to make a career choice, returned disappointed from the State Institute of Education (SIE), Sector 32, as the post of a permanent councillor is lying vacant.

While officials of the education department and SIE are busy passing the buck, the students are suffering the grind.

Earlier, the SIE aptitude test was popular among students and parents, but now the test cannot be conducted until the recruitment of a permanent councillor at the institute.

“I had gone to the SIE centre to take the test, as I was confused about the stream. I was disappointed to find that I cannot give the test since there is no permanent councillor to conduct the exam,” said Sidharth, a Class X pass out.

Some of the parents who accompanied the students to take the test informed The Tribune, that they were asked to fill the form and were told that they would be called after the post was occupied, but gave no time limit.

Contrary to the claim of the director of the SIE, who informed that he was not authorised to hire any staff, the DPI S Samwartak said it was the prerogative of the SIE and the Education department was only dealing with the training of the teachers.

“The aptitude tests are ready with us, but due to lack of staff, we cannot take the test. The post has been lying vacant since many years now and we have informed the Education department,” said SIE director Surinder Dhaiya.

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Students from Mohali town not on merit list
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 11
No student from Mohali town made it to the merit list of the middle standard examination of the Punjab School Education Board. However, five students from other parts of the district made it to the list.

The school board declared the result of the middle standard examination here today and released a merit list of 517 students.

A number of schools of the town are affiliated with the board, including government schools. Students from other parts of the district performed better in the examination and made it to the list. Three of them were from Dera Bassi, and one each from Kurali and Zirakpur.

Students of Mohali district who made it to the merit list are Neha Bansal of DAV Model Senior Secondary School, Kurali, Navneet Kaur of GS Memorial Public Senior Secondary School, Zirakpur, Nitika Goel of Acharya Atma Ram Jain Model Senior Secondary School, Dera Bassi, Pawandeep Suman and Kamal Saini both from Saravhitkari Senior Secondary Vidya Mandir, Dera Bassi.

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Students run for peace
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 11
A “Run for Peace” programme was organised by students of local schools. The programme was organised under the patronage of Patiala Sahodya School Complex.

Dr Ashok Ahuja, former chairman of the Medical and Doping Commission was the chief guest.

The programme started at 5 am yesterday from Thapar University. As many as 900 students and 100 teachers, including principals of several schools took part.

Earlier, a Punjabi and Hindi workshop was also organised on the school premises in which Prof G S Rahi and Kuldip Kaur shared their experiences.

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