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AAP announces Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh as candidate against Punjab CM from home turf Lambi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After declaring MP Bhagwant Mann as candidate from Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s constituency Jalalabad, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced Delhi MLA and Sikh rights activist Jarnail Singh as candidate to contest in the electoral battle against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from his home turf Lambi in Muktsar district.While making the announcement, AAP President, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the party will field its strongest candidates against senior Akali leaders. “Captain (Amarinder Singh) and CM Prakash Singh Badal are working in collusion to rule Punjab turn by turn. This is why Congress had fielded its weakest candidates against Badals in last elections, but AAP will challenge Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD),” said Kejriwal.Calling Bhagwant Mann the party’s ‘sabse bada neta’ (biggest leader), Kejriwal said Mann would give a tough fight to Sukhbir Badal in Jalalabad and Jarnail Singh would contest against Parkash Singh Badal in Lambi. “Ye Punjab ka sher hai, Delhi se aaya hai (This is Punjab’s tiger, come from Delhi),” said Kejriwal, referring to Singh after he announced his nomination from Lambi.A former journalist, Singh had garnered attention when he flung a shoe at senior Congress leader P Chidambaram during a press conference in April 2009 in Delhi. He later said that it was to show his resentment against Congress for giving tickets to leaders who were accused of instigating anti-Sikh riots in Punjab.Singh unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Assembly elections from West Delhi. In 2015, he was elected as the AAP MLA from Rajouri Garden. He was recently elevated as party spokesperson and co-incharge of AAP’s affairs in Punjab.Evoking examples of Bhagat Singh and Kartar Singh Sarabha, Singh said that if elected to power, AAP will not let the accused involved in desecration of Guru Granth Sahib go scott free. “Over ten thousand farmers have committed suicides and drug trafficking continues unabated. Punjab nashe ki dharti ban chukya hai (Punjab has become haven of drugs). We will take the drug lords to jails,” he said.Soon after the announcement, Punjab Congress President, Captain Amarinder Singh said AAP’s nomination of Jarnail Singh from Lambi against Parkash Singh Badal appeared to be a ploy to ensure the latter’s victory.“Jarnail Singh was a complete non-entity, with no standing in Punjab,” he said, adding that his nomination against Badal has further proved that the party neither cared for Punjab nor for its people. Keeping cards close to its chest, Congress is yet to announce its candidate against CM Badal in Lambi.

AAP’s Jarnail Singh to fight polls against Punjab CM Badal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP on Wednesday announced its candidate, MLA Jarnail Singh, against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Lambi constituency for the upcoming Assembly polls.Addressing a gathering at Badal’s home turf Lambi, AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Singh’s candidature and asked the audience if he would be the right man to take the Akali leader head-on. He alleged that so far, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and Badal, as per a “tactical understanding”, have been nominating “weak” candidates against each other, so that their opponents could secure easy wins. “However, this time, we will not allow Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh a walkover.That is why we are fielding our strongest candidates against the three and (Bikram) Majithia to give them a taste of political dust,” Kejriwal added. Notably, AAP has fielded MP Bhagwant Mann from the Jalalabad seat held by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, while the party’s legal cell head, Himmat Singh Shergill, has been nominated from the Majitha seat represented by state Revenue Minister Majithia. Listing instances of the “tactical understanding” between the Badals and Amarinder, Kejriwal claimed that the Congress’ nominee against Sukhbir from Jalalabad could not even save his deposit, adding that in a similar move, Amarinder had fielded a weak candidate against Majithia, who could only bag 7,000 votes in the 2017 Assembly polls.Both Amarinder and Badal not only “jointly contested polls to facilitate each other’s win”, but also “shared” business interests in sand and gravel, transport, liquor and above all, in “back-up candidates” who have been embroiled in the drug trade in Punjab, he alleged. Kejriwal cited the example of senior Akali leader Sarwan Singh Phillaur, who had to step down from the cabinet after his and his son’s names cropped up in the drug trade and was subsequently welcomed by Amarinder into the Congress-fold. Akali MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria, who was the right-hand man of Majithia, too was welcomed by the state Congress chief, he said, adding that this clearly showed that both Badal’s and Amarinder’s families had “joined hands to ruin Punjab turn-by-turn”.Jarnail Singh challenged Badal to an open debate on the “superficial” development of Punjab the Akali Dal has been talking about. “Thousands of farmers have committed suicide, youngsters are dying due to drugs…transport, liquor and cable businesses have been captured by the Badal family…is this the model of development the Badals are boasting of,” he said, adding that he will let the chief minister choose the venue and time of the debate. Others who spoke on the occasion included AAP MPs Sadhu Singh, Bhagwant Mann and senior leader Sanjay Singh.

Punjab elections 2017: Amarinder Singh promises to bring special law to crack down on drug mafia

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vowing to eradicate the drugs menace in Punjab within four weeks of coming to power, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh promised on Wednesday a special law to crack down on the drug mafia and asserted that all those found guilty would be jailed and their property confiscated.”All drugs cases would be dealt with on fast-track basis under the new law, which would be brought immediately after (government) formation if elected to power,” he said. “Nobody would be spared,” Amarinder said. In a statement issued in Delhi, the PCC chief said the proposed legislation – part of the 9-point action plan of Congress — would provide for deterrent punishment and confiscation of property of all those found guilty of ruining the lives of Punjab’s youth with drugs.Accusing the Badal government of “allowing unchecked proliferation of drugs in the state to further their own vested interests”, Amarinder said an entire generation of youth had been destroyed because of the “patronage” accorded to the drug mafia by the present dispensation in Punjab. He made it clear that all steps would be taken, on priority basis, to tackle the drugs cases and ensure strict, deterrent punishment for drug dealers, suppliers and distributors.He welcomed the Election Commission’s decision to appoint a special team of narcotics control officers to check flow of drugs in his state during the Assembly polls. “The EC move on drugs was a clear endorsement of the Congress stand that the drugs menace was rampant in Punjab under the Badal regime,” he said.

Congress’s second Punjab list out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Treading cautiously yet again, Congress while releasing the second list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab remained silent on the fate of SAD turncoats.A list of 16 candidates was released by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), which included six sitting MLAs, namely President, Indian Youth Congress (IYC), Amarinder Singh Raja Warring from Gidderbaha, Amrik Singh Dhillon from Samrala, Jagmohan Singh Kang from Kharar and Karan Kaur Brar from Muktsar. Two youth Congress leaders were also nominated, including Birenderjit Singh Pahra (Gurdaspur) and Daman Thind Bajwa (Sunam).

Will throw Badals into jail if found guilty of misconduct: Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh asserted on Monday that he would “throw the Badals into jail if found guilty of misconduct” if Congress forms the next government in the state. He said that he would review all decisions taken by the SAD-BJP state government in the last three months.Accusing both Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal of circumventing established rules and norms to push their electoral agenda, Amarinder said, “The game plan of the Akalis had been thoroughly exposed and only a total rout in the polls could really teach them a lesson. “I will review every act of the Badals and throw them into jail if found guilty of any criminal act or misdemeanour if Congress formed the next government,” he said in a statement.Any decision taken in violation of established rules would be revoked, and the accountability would be fixed. Action would also be taken against civil servants found facilitating such violation, the former Punjab Chief Minister claimed. The senior Congress leader also hit out at the special session convened by the state Cabinet on Monday.The Governor has refused to give his assent to the ordinances and bills proposed by the Akali government in the state, thus it is clear that there is sheer desperation behind the summoning of the special session of the Assembly today, he said.Amarinder reiterated his request to the Election Commission for “immediate imposition of the Code of Conduct in the state to prevent further deterioration of political environment in the run-up to the Assembly elections.” The Congress leader also welcomed Suresh Gogia from TMC into the party fold. Punjab goes to polls next year.

Congress imposes ‘one family, one ticket’ rule for Punjab elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing a tough electoral battle in Punjab next year, Congress has decided not to let sitting MLAs in general seats change their assembly segments and strictly apply the “one family, one ticket” formula by not allowing two people from a family to contest. “These two rules are non-negotiable. We have decided that all sitting MLAs in general seats must defend their own segments. They will not get to replace their seats. Replacements will be allowed only in case of 34 reserved seats. Also, the decision to allot one ticket per family is final. It will not be bent,” Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh said in an interview.He said the remaining party tickets for Punjab are likely to be finalised by early next week when the party’s Central Election Committee headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi would meet. The former Punjab Chief Minister said allowing sitting MLAs to shift to other constituencies would send “wrong signals” to the party workers. “Everyone must go into this battle thinking they are winning,” Amarinder said at a time when many sitting MLAs of Congress, including some senior leaders, want to shift to other constituencies.Among those are six-time MLA from Sanaur Lal Singh, who wants to shift to Samana, but is unlikely to be obliged. Another MLA demanding a change is Indian Youth Congress President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who is hoping to shift to Muktsar though he represents Gidderbaha in the Punjab assembly. “No changes will be allowed for any general candidates,” Amarinder categorically said.Singh also said the first list of 61 candidates announced a few days back reflected the sentiment that the MLAs will have to defend their turfs when it comes to general seats. Former Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who was seeking to contest from Sunam has been fielded from Lehra, which she currently represents in the assembly. Similarly, the “one family, one ticket” rule will apply, said Amarinder.”The CEC is likely to meet on Tuesday,” he said, as 56 seats are pending declaration. Punjab assembly has 117 seats. On “one family, one ticket” rule, Amarinder referred to his own family in which his wife and Patiala MLA Preneet Kaur had stepped down in his favour. Similarly, sitting MLA from Qadian Charanjit Kaur Bajwa has stepped down in favour of her brother-in-law Fateh Jung Bajwa. Guriqbal Kaur Babli, the Nawanshahr MLA has vacated her seat for her son Angad Saini whose name has been announced in the first list.Also, former Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer Amar Singh, who was principal secretary to AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh when he was the state’s chief minister, has been fielded this time from Raikot reserved seat instead of his brother and sitting MLA GS Boparai. Congress is seeking to wrest power from the ruling Akali- BJP combine after two successive defeats. The state appears set for a tough three-cornered fight with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party seeking to queer the pitch for both Congress and Akali-BJP alliance.

Demonetisation: Rahul Gandhi urges Narendra Modi to waive off farmer loans, PM non-committal

New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday met Prime minister Narendra Modi seeking a waiver of loans given to farmers.

A Gandhi-led Congress delegation also raised the issue of farmer suicides with Modi and urged him to write off the loans given to farmers like it has been done in the case of corporates.

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

“Thousands of farmers are committing suicide across the country. Every single day a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. We met the Prime Minister and apprised him about the plight of farmers across the country,” Gandhi told the media.

“This government has waived off loans of Rs 1.40 lakh crore to corporates. So we urged the government to waive off the loans of the farmers as well,” he said.

The delegation comprised senior Congress leaders including Punjab state unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh and Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

Gandhi also said that the government decision to remove import duty on wheat was a “terrible blow” to the farmers.

“The Prime Minister too admitted the condition of the farmers to be grave. But he did not say anything about waiving off the loans to farmers,” he said.

Gandhi’s meeting with Modi comes days after he vowed to expose the Prime Minister’s “personal complicity in corruption”.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:59 IST

Have put ‘contentious’ issue of SYL in ‘wraps forever’: Parkash Singh Badal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday claimed that nobody will be allowed to construct the SYL canal as he “has put this contentious issue in wraps forever” by conferring the ownership rights of the land acquired for the project to its original owners after de-notification.”Nobody will be allowed to construct this canal in future…with conferring the ownership rights of the land acquired for the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal to its original owners and their lineal descendants after its de notification has put this contentious issue in wraps forever,” the five-time Chief Minister, who turned 89 today, said. Addressing the ‘Paani Bachao, Punjab Bachao rally in this district here, the Chief Minister upped the ante on water issue, reiterating that Punjab neither has spare water to share with anyone, nor any need for the construction of SYL canal.He said that with the historic initiative of the state government, conferring the ownership rights of the land acquired for the SYL canal to its original owners and their lineal descendants after its de-notification, “now this issue was dead for all times to come”. “I firmly resolve that we don t have spare water to share with anyone and what was within our jurisdiction, we did the best within the legal framework to safeguard the interests of the state,” Badal said.He alleged that Punjab Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh “who was now trying to become a martyr by smearing blood on his little finger and showing lip sympathy with the people on the SYL issue, was the prime conspirator along with the then Congress high Command and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who performed the ground breaking ceremony of SYL at village Kapoori in Punjab way back in 1982”. “On the contrary, the Akali Dal from day one vehemently opposed the construction of SYL by launching state wide morchas,” Badal claimed.Describing the resignation by Amarinder Singh, the Amritsar MP from the Lok Sabha after the Supreme court held as unconstitutional the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states, “as a mere political stunt”, Badal said “the resignation drama was aimed at deriving political benefit from this sensitive issue rather than safeguarding the interests of the state”.

Have met Navjot Singh Sidhu, he is ‘inclined’ to support Congress: Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The prospects of Navjot Singh Sidhu joining the Congress ahead of next year’s assembly elections have brightened with the former cricketer, who left BJP over two months back, meeting Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh in the capital here.Confirming the meeting, Amarinder today said Sidhu was inclined to support the Congress and would soon make an announcement regarding his plan. “I can tell you that I have met him. I hope very soon he will be making his announcement. I found him in a very positive frame of mind. I hope it will be a positive decision,” Amarinder said.The former Punjab Chief Minister said he does not think that Sidhu is interested in contesting the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat and is likely to campaign for the party. “He just has to make up his mind whether he has to carry on with his work or whether he wants to actively join politics. The way he is talking, I feel he would like to campaign for the Congress party, but that he would announce himself,” he said.Asked specifically if Sidhu will be formally joining the Congress or not, the PCC chief said, “I think he will announce it himself. Let’s wait for the announcement in a few days time. But the impression I got, without any commitment from his side, is that he was inclined to support us.” Sidhu’s entry into Congress has been speculated for a long time now.His wife Navjot Kaur joined the party recently, giving ample indications that he would also come on board. Sidhu was earlier in talks with AAP but it did not materialise leading to a split in his recently formed outfit Awaaz-E-Punjab.Two formidable members of Awaaz-E-Punjab and sitting independent MLAs – Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains from Ludhiana, parted ways with Sidhu to join the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP. Pargat Singh, the other member, joined the Congress along with Sidhu’s wife.

Amarinder Singh slams Arun Jaitley after I-T department files complaint against him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Friday lashed out at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, after the Income Tax Department filed a prosecution complaint against him in a foreign tax evasion case.”I challenged @arunjaitley to fight by-elections in Amritsar and this is how he responds. So predictable!”, Singh tweeted.Earlier in June, the Enforcement Directorate issued summons to Amarinder’s son Raninder Singh for allegedly violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).Dubbing the summons as “fraud notice”, Amarinder had alleged that Jaitley was behind it. “This is total fraud notice. This issue of income tax and all has been done by Jaitley, he can’t get over his defeat,” Amarinder said.Amarinder, who will lead the Punjab Congress in the upcoming assembly elections eyeing the Chief Minister seat, recently resigned from his Lok Sabha membership in protest against the Supreme Court order on the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal issue.

Income Tax dept charges Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh in foreign assets case

Chandigarh: The Income Tax department has filed a chargesheet against Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh in connection with its probe against him and his son in a case of alleged untaxed foreign assets.

Official sources said the department filed the prosecution complaint (equivalent to a police charge sheet) in a competent court in Ludhiana in Punjab yesterday and the former chief minister has been charged under section 277 of the I-T Act (false statement in verification) and IPC sections 176 (omission to give notice or information to public servant by person legally bound to give it), 177 (furnishing false information), 193 (punishment for false evidence) and 199 (false statement made in declaration which is by law receivable as evidence).

Amarinder took to Twitter to accuse Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of complicity.

Congress Party State President, Captain Amarinder Singh, flashes the victory sign after his party claimed victory in the state assembly elections in the northern city of Chandigarh February 24, 2002. India's opposition Congress party captured northern Punjab state in a regional election on Sunday, dealing a setback to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). REUTERS/Str JSG/CP

Congress Punjab chief Captain Amarinder Singh. Reuters

According to the complaint, a copy of which was accessed by PTI, the I-T department said during its investigations Singh was “found to be the beneficiary” of a trust and other properties owned and created by his son Raninder in a foreign territory and when questioned about these, the Congress chief ministerial candidate for the state gave a “false statement on oath” about the ownership of these assets.

It said Singh was “actively involved” in the creation of these trusts and foreign properties which were not disclosed to the department for tax purposes. The department has already filed a similar complaint against Raninder and has charged him under section 276C of the I-T Act in the case (wilful attempt to evade tax) and the same charges would now apply on the senior Singh.

The case came to light when the Income Tax department received information about Raninder allegedly holding the offshore account in Switzerland as part of details received by the Central Board of Direct Taxes from its French counterparts in 2011.

The department had also detected movement of funds to Switzerland and creation of a trust and a few subsidiaries in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands allegedly by Raninder.

Both Amarinder and Raninder have denied any wrongdoing and termed as “false” the charges. Based on the earlier I-T department charge sheet, the Enforcement Directorate too had registered a case against Raninder under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) sometime back and has also questioned him.

Jaitley had lost the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2014 to Amarinder Singh. Only yesterday Amarinder had dared Jaitley to contest the Amritsar bypoll again, saying let it be a referendum on the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation move.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:44 IST

Politics make strange bedfellows: BJP takes dig at Navjot Kaur for joining Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab BJP on Tuesday took a dig at former MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu for joining Congress, alleging that it reeked of sheer opportunism on part of the Sidhus and Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh. “Politics does make strange bedfellows. It is the same Navjot Kaur Sidhu who used to deride Amarinder Singh and slam his lifestyle as socially unacceptable and now she has shown no qualms in joining his party,” Punjab BJP secretary Vineet Joshi, in a release issued here, said.”Kaur had termed the PPCC chief as power hungry slamming him for going into ‘hibernation’ for four years and earning profits sitting in Dubai without showing any concern either for his party, his workers or for Punjab. She had said that with elections round the corner, Captain had suddenly started paying lip-service. Sidhu had once given Amarinder a big zero out of ten for his performance as Amritsar’s representative in the Parliament,” he alleged.Joshi said, “Similarly Amarinder Singh’s feelings about the couple are not hidden from anyone. He had ridiculed Navjot Singh Sidhu by stating that politics was serious business not a comedy show and that he never wanted another trouble-maker after Jagmeet Brar to be in his party.”Now, when both husband and wife were left lurching high and dry, they suddenly found an alternative and that too in the same person who according to her bore an unacceptable behaviour. This is sheer opportunism at play.”Kaur, who had contested last Punjab assembly polls on BJP ticket, has joined Congress along with former hockey captain Pargat Singh.

Nabha jailbreak: Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh wants case handed over to CBI

Chandigarh: Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh on Monday demanded handing over of the Nabha jailbreak case to CBI, alleging a deep-rooted conspiracy, “which has deepened” with the arrest of Khalistan Liberation Front chief Harminder Singh Mintoo.

“Since the Punjab Police DGP Suresh Arora has already admitted to conspiracy and connivance in the matter, the case should not be probed by the Punjab Police and handed over to CBI for an independent investigation,” he said.

Amarinder Singh also accused the ruling Akalis of “resorting to communal polarisation when faced with imminent defeat”.

“The jail break incident also pointed to such an attempt by the state government,” he alleged in a statement here.

Amarinder Singh. AFPAmarinder Singh. AFP

Amarinder Singh. AFP

Reacting to the arrest of Mintoo less than 24 hours after he dramatically escaped from Nabha jail in Patiala district along with five others yesterday, Amarinder warned against allowing the matter to be pushed under the carpet with the arrest of Mintoo, and called for a thorough probe.

“It is a clear case of connivance,” he maintained and added that since Mintoo was nabbed in Delhi, the case could jointly be probed by the CBI and the IB, with support from the Delhi police.

“The ease of his arrest belied Sukhbir Badal’s claims of a Pakistani role in the escape of the hardcore terrorist, who has about a dozen terror cases against him,” said Amarinder.

“Had the whole thing been plotted from across the border, Mintoo would have by now escaped out of India, instead of waiting in Delhi to be nabbed,” he further stated.

The former Punjab Chief Minister demanded “meticulous interrogation” of Mintoo by independent agencies to get at the root of the conspiracy.

“With the entire police and administrative machinery in Punjab in the grip of the Akalis, such blatant incidents of law and order breakdown were to be expected in the run-up to the Assembly polls in the state,” he said.

Assembly polls in Punjab are scheduled early next year.

Expressing apprehensions of violence and possible terrorist attacks in the poll-bound state, Amarinder reiterated his demand for imposition of President’s Rule to ensure free and fair elections in Punjab.

Khalistani Liberation Force (KLF) chief Harminder Singh Mintoo was on Monday nabbed from Delhi railway station.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 14:09 IST

Punjab jailbreak: Captain Amarinder Singh accuses Badal govt of complicity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress’ Punjab unit President Amarinder Singh accused the Badal government of “complicity” in the Nabha jailbreak on Sunday and said it has exposed a “complete breakdown of law and order” and triggered fears of revival of terrorism in the state ahead of the Assembly polls. The “shocking manner” in which the gangsters walked into the high-security jail and freed a dreaded Khalistani terrorist, along with four others, clearly showed complicity at the highest levels, he said.Talking to reporters during the second day of the second phase of his roadshow, he said the law and order situation in the state had “deteriorated to unprecedented levels” under the Badal regime, especially in the run-up to the Assembly polls.Armed men in police uniform on Sunday morning stormed the high-security Nabha Jail in Patiala district, opening indiscriminate fire and fleeing with five prisoners including Khalistan Liberation Front chief Harminder Mintoo, an accused in 10 cases.The rescue of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) chief clearly suggested an active effort from across the border to revive terrorism in Punjab, he alleged and expressed fears of terror attacks and other violent incidents in the state ahead of the polls.”The gangsters seemed to have driven fearlessly to the prison, entered in police fatigues and escaped with Mintoo and the others, all hardcore gangsters, without being stopped, clearly indicating that it was a pre-planned assault managed with the complicity of the highest authorities,” he said.He accused the Badal government of playing into the hands of the enemies of the nation and allowing the situation to come to such a pass where terrorists could walk out of high-security prisons so effortlessly. He demanded beefing up of security across the state to prevent recurrence of such incidents and strong measures to catch Mintoo and the others gangsters.

Congress will bring bill to save Punjab’s water: Amarinder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh on Saturday said a new legislation will be brought in the assembly to save state’s waters and to waive off property tax charges for those with income up to Rs 2.5 lakh, if the Congress comes to power in the state.Accusing Badals of “failing” to protect the interests of Punjab on the SYL issue, he said, “we have to teach them a lesson while alleging that Badal government had “looted” the state for the past 10 years.Amarinder promised to waive off property tax charges for those with income up to Rs 2.5 lakhs and substantially lower the same for other sections of the society once in power.He assured the people that free power subsidy in the state would continue and the ‘Atta-Dal’ scheme currently in place will be further expanded to include tea and sugar.Addressing a rally at Barnala to mark the 10th anniversary celebrations of the formation of the Barnala district, he alleged “there’s something wrong with their (Badal’s) blood. They are all liars and looters, who have been plundering Punjab day in and day out for the past 10 years.” The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president, asserting that they (Badals) would not be allowed to get away with their “sins”. “I will ensure that they are punished and sent to jail if found guilty.”Amarinder said no effort would be spared to bring the Akali leaders to book.Referring to the transport mafia allegedly being run by the Badals, along with cable, sand and other mafias, the Punjab Congress leader asserted that his government would snatch the transport network from them and hand it over to the unemployed youth of the state.He reiterated his promise of one job per family once the reins of Punjab are in the hands of his party.Extending his party’s full support to the aggrieved industry, which was being “forced to flee” the state under the Badal “misrule”, Amarinder said several relief measures would be announced in the Congress manifesto for the forthcoming Assembly elections.Referring to the demonetization move of the Narendra Modi government, Amarinder said it was not helping curb corruption and black money but was only causing “suffering” to the common man.He claimed out that 50% of the people in India do not even have a bank account, and lambasted the prime minister, along with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, for “plunging the people of the state into dire straits as a result of the “cash crunch” triggered by demonetization”.Recalling the historic, 300-year-old association of his family with Barnala, Amarinder alleged that the Akali government was preventing the development of the district out of “sheer vendetta”, “since I had created the district.” He said there was no government college in Barnala and no good hospital even though cancer spread was rampant in the region.On the occasion, Punjab BJP Beopar Mandal president Naib Singh Kala, along with 200 of his supporters, joined the Congress after leaving the BJP.Amarinder welcomed them into the party fold, along with Budh Ram, who quit the Akali Dal to join the Congress.Earlier, AICC-in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari, in her address, lamented that the state which was known for excellence in industry and agriculture was on Saturday under “mafia raj”, with transport, sand, drugs and cable mafias ruling Punjab under the alleged patronage of the Akalis.Promising that the lost glory of the state will be restored by the Congress when it comes to power, Asha Kumari expressed pain at the fact that the people of Barnala do not have access to even basic amenities.Earlier, huge crowds turned up to welcome Amarinder as his cavalcade negotiated the narrows lanes of the Pharwahi Bazaar to the rally venue.Traders from the bazaar came out in large numbers to share their woes, in the wake of the demonetization move of the Central government, with the PPCC president.

SYL canal issue: Punjab will not spare even one drop of water, says Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Hitting out at the Badal government over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the SYL issue, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Sunday vowed to protect the last drop of the state’s water.Addressing a rally at Khuian Sarwar village near Abohar, the tail-end of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, he asked SAD MLAs to quit the Assembly and said the state polls should be held next month itself to prevent Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from further “vitiating” the atmosphere of the state. He vowed to protect the “last drop” of Punjab’s water, and declared “not a drop will be spared” till their “last breath”.On the Chief Minister’s assertion that he (Badal) is ready to face the bullet in order to protect Punjab’s water, Amarinder alleged that in 1984, Badal had made such claims but when the time came to fight for the state he went into hiding, leaving the people to fend for themselves. He also alleged that the Chief Minister has “destroyed” the state out of “sheer personal greed” and cannot be allowed to remain in power.Asserting that implementation of the SYL verdict will “finish off” the 2 lakh families and 2 lakh agricultural labourers who farm 10 lakh acres of land in the state, Amarinder alleged that SAD had 10 years to battle the case in the court effectively but failed to do anything. “They (SAD) were only interested in creation of Punjabi Suba in order to rule a Sikh-dominated region for their vested interests,” he alleged.”Why did Badal not tell the court that Punjab had no water to spare, with all the glaciers having melted,” the state Congress chief asked and reiterated his demand for the establishment of a new tribunal to assess the quantum of water available with the state. Referring to the controversial Clause 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, Amarinder alleged Badal is misleading the state on the issue by making fraudulent claims on scrapping it.He accused Badal of playing with the sentiments of the people and alleged that removal of the clause would not be acceptable to the BJP-led Central government, of which SAD is a part.Political temperatures have risen in Punjab after the Supreme Court held as “unconstitutional” the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the SYL canal water sharing agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.

Modi govt does not like to be questioned: Salman Khurshid

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former External Affairs minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Saturday attacked the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre, saying it does not like to be questioned. “Anyone who questions the government is being labelled as a traitor or an irresponsible person,” he was quoted as saying at Dhakoli in Zirakpur in Punjab in a statement released here.Speaking on the issue of black money, Khurshid said the Central government should also focus on the fake currencies being pushed into the country from outside. “Modi government should disclose the amount of fake currency seized until now. The NDA government has so far failed to clarify about what steps have been taken to curb black money. If the BJP says that it will contest the next elections only by using a cheque, then I will admit that black money has been wiped out,” he said.On the issue of SYL, the Congress leader said, “All the political parties should refrain from playing politics over this issue. It will be better if they get together and resolve it or they will have to go by the Supreme Court decision”.He further said Amarinder Singh’s “hardwork” and the “enthusiasm” of the cadres will lead Congress to a “thumping victory” in Punjab.Commenting on the shifting of AAP’s “stand” over SYL issue, Khurshid said, “AAP likes to point fingers at others, but it doesn’t want to be questioned. Their leaders are used to give irresponsible statements on serious issues. This might have helped them in the past, but they stand exposed now”.

Questioning SC’s order means democracy has failed – Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The firebrand leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Subramanian Swamy on Friday said questioning the Supreme Court’s decision on the Satluj Yamuna Link issue is equivalent for failure of democracy.”Once the Supreme Court has ruled and I have taken the stand in the case of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Questioning the Supreme Court order means democracy in fail. The whole idea of court system is that both sides have strong case and ultimately somebody has to decide ,” he said.Swamy took a jibe at Congress Punjab state president Captain Amarinder Singh’s resignation moments after the verdict by the Supreme Court, terming him as a non serious politician.”His resignation is meaningless because he was supposed to represent state in the Centre and not in the Supreme Court. It shows lack of application of mind in part of Amarinder Singh. He is just not a serious politician,? he said.Swamy further advised Punjab government not to take extremist position on SYL issue, but should examine whether there is any scope within the law. to appeal against the verdict. Yesterday, the Supreme Court held the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement between neighbouring states as unconstitutional.Following which, Congress Punjab state president Captain Amarinder Singh decided to quit as a member of the 16th Lok Sabha from the Amritsar constituency in Punjab with immediate effect “as a mark of protest against the deprivation of the people of Punjab of the much-needed Sutlej river water.”

Has anyone seen Captain Amarinder Singh in Lok Sabha: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday questioned the resignation of the president of the Punjab unit of the Congress party, Captain Amarinder Singh, from the 16th Lok Sabha moments after the Supreme Court ruling declared a 2004 law passed by the state assembly to deny Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal water to Haryana as illegal and unconstitutional.”Has anyone seen Captain Amarinder Singh in the Lok Sabha? A person who has not gone to the Lok Sabha automatically becomes eligible for resignation. He should have been dismissed, he has just done some face saving exercise,” Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and BJP MP Vijay Sampla said. “About the Punjab MLAs, their term was about to get over by next month, that is why this is a drama,” he added.Sampla also blamed the Congress for being the root cause of the water sharing problem. “When the SYL was constructed by Indira Gandhi, then Captain Amarinder Singh was prominently behind it,” Sampla added.Post his resignation from the Lok Sabha, Captain Amarinder Singh has sought a personal meeting with the speaker next week. Congress MLAs have also sent their resignations to the Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, and will meet him this morning to personally hand over their letters. The Supreme Court held as unconstitutional the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states. In his resignation letter, Captain Amarinder said he had decided to quit as a member of the 16th Lok Sabha from Amritsar constituency in Punjab with immediate effect “as a mark of protest against the deprivation of the people of my state of the much-needed Sutlej river water.The Centre had said that it was having a neutral stand in the matter in which the court has recorded the stand of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.

SYL verdict: Punjab govt refuses to share water, Congress slams SAD-BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court’s ruling favouring Haryana on the contentious SYL canal issue has set political temperature soaring in Punjab, with the state Congress chief Amarinder Singh quitting as MP and all MLAs following suit, as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asserted “not a drop of water” will be allowed to be taken out of the state.A major confrontation between the Supreme Court and Punjab government also appeared a distinct possibility with the state’s SAD-BJP government asserting it would appeal to the President not to accept the advice of the apex court.Addressing a press conference after a hurriedly called meeting of the state’s council of ministers, Badal, with son and deputy CM Sukhbir by his side, declared “not a single drop of water will be allowed to be taken out of the state…water comes first for us.”Sukhbir said a special session of the state assembly has been called on November 16 where the government will adopt a resolution appealing to the President not to accept the advice of the Supreme Court, which had ruled a state which is a party to an agreement cannot unilaterally terminate it or nullify the decree of the highest court in the country.The Supreme Court on Thursday, while disposing of the Presidential reference said, “All the questions have been answered in the negative”.The reference had been made by the then President A P J Abdul Kalam on the constitutional validity of the law passed by then Punjab government-led by Captain Amrinder Singh to nullify the court verdict and unilaterally terminating the almost three-dacade old SYL water sharing agreement.Amarinder, Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar, also demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state and suggested holding the assembly elections in December, voicing apprehension that a “mischievous” Badal government may try to “foment trouble” following the court order.In its judgement, a five-judge bench headed by Justice A R Dave made it clear that the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 was “unconstitutional” and that Punjab could not have taken a “unilateral” decision to terminate the water sharing agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.The apex court ruling saw the festering dispute over water sharing between Punjab, which will go to polls early next year, and Haryana, immediately catapulted to political centrestage with Amarinder upping the ante and announcing his decision to resign as MP and announcing that the MLAs have also tendered their resignation “in protest against the injustice meted out to the state”. He said the MLAs will meet the assembly speaker tomorrow to formally put in their papers.Amarinder, under whom the controversial law had been enacted to abrogate the agreement, said he had sent his resignation to the Lok Sabha Speaker and sought an appointment with her next week. For the resignation of an MP or MLA to be accepted, they have to submit their letters to the Speaker personally.Blaming the Akalis squarely for bringing the people of Punjab to “this pitiable situation”, where they face “imminent devastation” due to acute water scarcity, Amarinder said Badal and his team had failed to defend Punjab s stand in the court, leading to such “disastrous consequences” for the state. The Congress leader accused the Akalis of being instrumental in acquiring the land for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal, ignoring the interest of Punjab.Amarinder said, “Badal issued the notification for land acquisition for the SYL on February 20, 1978 vide notification nos: 113/5/SYL and 121/5/SYL under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act. With this, the process of land acquisition started. Badal wrote to Haryana overnment letters demanding payment of Rs 3 crore more as he had already taken Rs 2 crore for the purpose. This was in follow up to an agreement between him and Devi Lal, the then Chief Minister of Haryana that Haryana will pay Rs 5 crores to Punjab (for SYL).” Sukhbir Badal hit back, saying the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had forced Congress Chief Minister Darbara Singh to sign the agreement.”It is a well known fact that PPCC President Capt Amarinder Singh welcomed the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1982 to lay the foundation of SYL canal at Kapoori. It was Akali Dal government which stopped it and did not allow water to be taken out of the state.”Come what may, we will not allow even a single drop of precious river water of Punjab to go outside the state,” he said.Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, whose state hopes to gain from the SC ruling, meanwhile, urged the political parties to respect the apex court’s ruling and not politicise it.With his party BJP’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal strongly opposing the SC ruling, Khattar said,”Punjab government is not bigger than the Supreme Court, which has given its advice. Now the President will decide on it. I hope that the decision is amicably implemented immediately.”On the assertion by the Badals that not a single drop of water will be allowed to be taken outside the state, Khattar said, “It is a multi-state agreement. Ours is a federal democracy and it should be respected.”Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, which has decided to plunge into the Punjab elections in a big way, accused both the ruling SAD and opposition Congress of failing to protect the state’s interest and announced an indefinite dharna at Kapoori, where the foundation stone for the SYL canal was laid, from tomorrow.”The SAD and Congress have failed to protect the interest of Punjab on river water issue,” AAP leader and lawyer H S Phoolka said.”The Badal government could have forced the Centre to withdraw the notification issued by the then Central government in 1976 which stated that SYL be constructed to give water to Haryana,” Phoolka said. He also described Amarinder Singh’s resignation from Lok Sabha as “mere drama”. Apart from Amarinder, Congress has two other Lok Sabha MPs from Punjab.”There is no meaning of resignation by Amarinder as it was the Congress-led government at the Centre which had decided to get the SYL canal constructed. If Amarinder is really serious about state’s interest he should resign from the Congress,” he said.Congress, which is trying to stage a comeback to power in Punjab after nearly a decade, however, appeared divided on the issue of SC verdict.While on one hand Amarinder made a strident pitch against SC order, Congress’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala, a Haryanavi, said,” Justice has won in the Supreme Court. The two and a half crore people of Haryana should now have closure.””This is the litmus test of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to do justice and honour his constitutional responsibility. Ball lies in the court of PM Modi. All the three governments — Central Government, Punjab Government and Haryana Government, belong to BJP. Onus is on Modi ji to fulfil the solemn responsibility to the Constitution, implement the law and enforce the orders of the Supreme Court,” Surjewala said.Another Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said the party would come out with an apropriate reaction soon after details of the verdict are available.”We are dealing with two states, in which the BJP plays a prominent role. We would expect the Prime Minister to have an interface with both sides and find solutions. So the ball is in the court of the Prime Minister. The challenge is before the Prime Minister. Solutions need to be found and this can only be processed through dialogue and not monologue from both sides,” he said.

Punjab polls 2017: Kejriwal, Amarinder indulge in epic Twitter fight over trade manifesto, open debate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Twitter battle ensued between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress senior leader Amarinder Singh on Monday. It started on Sunday evening when Singh took to Twitter to slam AAP’s Punjab elections manifesto. “Like older manifestos, once again Kejriwal states the obvious & exposes his intellectual bankruptcy in crafting actual solutions for Punjab. In Delhi Kejriwal hiked VAT twice this year,increased toll taxes and imposed a new green tax on trucks. Yet, he speaks of lower tax in Punjab.””Kejriwal better set his own house in order, before he sets his sights on Punjab,” said Singh on Twitter. To this, the Delhi CM responded saying, “Sir, Badals closed corruption cases against u just a few months before elections. Why? Punjab asking what’s the deal?”Amarinder’s response: “You and your shoot and scoot politics!! Tell us how many of those who you accused before elections have been put behind bars till now? Country is increasingly sick of your theatrics just to grab headlines!”Kejriwal then accused the Congress’ Punjab CM hopeful of using “drug money” in his campaign.Singh then challenged Kejriwal for an open debate, to which the Delhi CM suggested 4 names of his party leaders.

Punjab polls: Arvind Kejriwal, Amarinder Singh engage in war of words on Twitter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Amarinder Singh on Monday locked horns on social media after the AAP chief accused the Congress’ Punjab CM hopeful of using “drug money” in his campaign. Singh put out a stinging response to Kejriwal, saying he was “hallucinating” and seeing things that “don’t exist”.The two leaders have been increasingly trading barbs on Twitter as the Assembly election nears. “Sir, people talking in Punjab that u using (Bikram Singh) Majithia’s drug money in your campaign. Is it true? U had saved him from CBI enquiry three yrs back (sic),” Kejriwal tweeted. Majithia is Punjab’s Revenue Minister. The Punjab Congress chief was quick to respond, saying Kejriwal was “seeing stars during the day”.”When your hopes crash from 100 to 30 & still sliding, you’re bound to hallucinate & see things that don’t exist,” Singh tweeted. Kejriwal has been alleging a “nexus” between Congress and the ruling Akalis in poll-bound Punjab. He has dubbed Singh their “joint chief ministerial candidate”.”Sir, Badals closed corruption cases against u just a few months before elections. Why? Punjab asking what’s the deal?” Kejriwal had tweeted yesterday, responding to which Singh asked the AAP chief to “set his own house in order, before he sets his sights on Punjab”. Kejriwal was referring to Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s clean chit to Singh in his alleged role in the Amritsar Improvement Trust land scam case.

Punjab Elections 2017: Sidhu welcome to join, says Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Friday extended an olive branch to former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, saying he was “most welcome” to join the party and insisted that its Punjab unit chief Amarinder Singh was on the same page.Amid speculation over Sidhu joining the party, Singh met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and is learnt to have discussed the issue besides the political situation in poll-bound Punjab. Sources said Singh is also learnt to have discussed the party’s prospects in Punjab and about the probable candidates for the upcoming assembly polls.Congress, which is seeking to wrest power after a decade of political wilderness, is trying to strengthen its position and sees Sidhu as an effective campaigner who could add more punch in reaching out to people at a time when Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP is keeping it on tenterhooks. “Sidhu is most welcome to join the party. It will be a wise decision on his part,” Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar told mediapersons while replying to a volley of questions on the issue.He added that if Sidhu recognises the leadership and the values of the Congress and joins the party, it would be a wise decision on his part and we welcome his wisdom.Former PCC chief Pratap Singh Bajwa has been batting for Sidhu while Singh has lately been critical of the cricketer- turned-politician. Sidhu, who quit his Rajya Sabha seat and the BJP, formed a non-political outfit Awaaz-e-Punjab but is yet to align with any party. Earlier, he was speculated to join the AAP that did not materialise. Asserting he is not aware whether Congress and Awaaz-e-Punjab are engaged in talks or not, Bajwa said if the party is not engaged in talks, it must open communication channel with the Sidhu-led front, so as not to let the anti-Badal votes get divided in the upcoming Punjab polls. “I want to appeal to the Congress high command that it should take Navjot Singh Sidhu on board in the joint fight against the tyrannical Akali-BJP rule in the state,” the former Punjab Congress chief said.”As the former PPCC chief and now MP, I want talks should be initiated with Sidhu… for the betterment of Punjab and Congress,” Bajwa said. Notably, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and the party’s Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari had repeatedly said no talks is going on with Awaaz-e-Punjab. However, Awaaz-e-Punjab member and Independent MLA Simarjit Singh had claimed Sidhu was in touch with the Congress high command for alliance and Amarinder “very well knows” about it.”Congress must open channel with Navjot Singh Sidhu. Talk to him and bring him on the table and he should be convinced, because he has taken a public stand that he is against the Badals and wants an end to the SAD-BJP rule,” Bajwa said. He said talks should also be held with other members of the forum like Pargat Singh and the Bains brothers.Asserting that “anti-Badal” votes should not split, he said, “There is a need to defeat Badals and there is no need to get into all this (that whether talks are on or not).” Bajwa also said the party should not repeat the “mistake” it committed in the last Punjab Assembly elections.”I had appealed to the Congress high command during 2012 polls that talks should be held with Manpreet Badal’s Peoples’ Party of Punjab for alliance. But my suggestion was not accepted and we lost the polls,” he claimed.”I feel that the revival of Congress will start from Punjab if we are able to win the upcoming assembly polls,” he said.

Disability pension of armed forces: Govt should stop playing dirty games, says Punjab Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Friday accused the Narendra Modi government at the Centre of misleading the nation over the issue of disability pension of armed forces. Rejecting the Centre’s claim that there had been no reduction in the disability pension, he said the BJP-led government was using selective data, projected by vested interests, to spread lies.”The government should stop playing dirty games with the armed forces, which was the only institution in the country that is respected by all communities and sections,” Singh said, adding that why the government could not give the same respect to the forces as was given by the common man.Terming as “ridiculous” the fact that there was not a single person from the armed forces on the 7th Pay Commission panel, the Congress leader said figures were being interpreted and projected by the government in such a way to suggest that the disability pension had not been cut.The fact is, the disability pension had been reduced across several key categories of defence personnel, he said, adding that the large number of personnel of various ranks will actually not get benefits of the new scales. Rather, only those jawans would benefit who are invalided out with minimal service at the beginning of their careers, which is a rare possibility in any case, said Singh, himself an ex-soldier.He said under the slab system, Jawans would benefit only if their pay at the time of release from service is less than Rs 34,800 (basic) plus Rs 5,200 (military service pay) under the 7th CPC rates since below this, 30 per cent of basic pay would fall to less than Rs 12,000.Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) will only benefit if their pay at the time of release is less than Rs 51,000 plus Rs 5,200 since below this, 30 per cent of basic pay would be less than Rs 17,000. Commissioned Officers will only benefit if their pay at the time of release is less than Rs 74,500 plus Rs 15,500 since below this, 30 per cent would be less than Rs 27,000.Since most of the retirees at the Jawan level are above the basic level of Rs 34,800 plus Rs 5,200, they will not be benefitted from the slab system introduced as per the 7th Pay Commission recommendations, he said. They will gain only under the percentage system of calculation, the PCC chief said, adding that the same logic applied to other ranks also. “In any case, if the slab system is beneficial for lower ranks then why had not it been made applicable to other services, including the Central Armed Police Forces?” he said.Singh further pointed out that while all pensions, including disability pensions for civilians, had been multiplied by 2.57 by the Pay Commission, singularity disability pensions of the military had been slashed and in some cases reduced to less than half.The government, Singh said, was unnecessarily and deliberately creating a situation of unrest in the armed forces, which could prove highly dangerous for the country’s security and future. He demanded to know why the armed forces were being subjected to such shoddy treatment, wherein their pay scales were even less than those in the paramilitary forces.Such distinction was bound to create a schism between the paramilitary and defence forces, which the nation simply could not afford given the prevailing geopolitical scenario, he said.

Punjab: Amarinder Singh demands inquiry into Mansa incident

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday demanded an inquiry into the Mansa incident that took place on October 11.Slamming the Akali Dal government, he said, “This is tragic and we demand an investigation into this but they (accused) have political protection, what’ll police do? A Dalit youth in Punjab’s Mansa district was allegedly hacked to death on the suspicion that he was acting as an informer for liquor contractors and the police, and helping in exposing illegal sale of liquor in his area. Sukhchain Singh, 20, a resident of Gharangna village, was allegedly beaten to death by seven people on Monday night. The mutilated body of Sukhchain was found near his home later. According to police, Sukhchain’s killers chopped off his left leg and might have taken it along. Resham Singh (47), father of the victim, in his complaint alleged that Sukhchain was brutally beaten up by sticks by seven people ? Kuljeet Singh, Balveer Singh, Hardeep Singh, Amandeep, Sadhu Singh, Sita Singh and Babreek Singh. Resham Singh, a labourer, is a Mazbhi Sikh (Schedule caste). The autopsy could not be conducted as the family said they would not allow the examination till the lost limb was recovered. A case has been registered under Sections 302, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Kot Dhamu Police Station. As per locals, Sukhchain also used to ‘sell liquor illegally’.

Amarinder Singh storms police station, accuses SHO of threatening party workers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh today stormed a police station here, accusing the SHO of threatening party workers and asking them to join the Akali Dal. Responding to a number of complaints from local party workers, who alleged that the SHO was openly threatening them and asking them to join Akali Dal, the PCC president went to the Kotli Surat Malhi Police Station to lodge the protest. A number of party workers, who had gathered at the police station, told Capt Amarinder that the SHO was allegedly threatening Congress workers. The Punjab Congress chief warned the SHO to stop the alleged harassment of party workers failing which he will dismiss him when the Congress comes to power. “Let me warn all such police officials that I will use the special powers vested in the government under Article 311 to dismiss all of them in case they do not mend their ways”, he told reporters. “Enough is enough and I won’t let anyone to get away with the persecution of my party workers,” the PCC chief, who was accompanied by the local MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, said. One of the party workers confronted the SP in-charge of the police station, with “evidence” that the SHO had asked him to join Akali Dal. He said, when he refused, he was allegedly slapped with a false case. The SHO and the DSP were not present in the police station when the former Chief Minister visited there. The workers alleged that a lot of cases have been registered at the instance of the Akali leaders. Amarinder said he will use the special powers vested with the government to dismiss all such cops if the Congress comes to power. “I did it in 2002 and I will do it again in case the cops do not mend their ways”, he warned.The PCC president also spoke to one of the senior police officers over phone and conveyed his strong displeasure over the way the SHOs had been treating Congress workers.

Rajnath Singh’s border sealing proposal is ‘sheer rhetoric’: Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder Singh on Friday termed as “sheer rhetoric” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s proposal to “seal” the India-Pakistan border by December 2018 and his statement reflected his ignorance about matters of national security. He also said that the International Border in Punjab was already well protected.”Rajnath’s statement is nothing more than sheer rhetoric since the Indo-Pak border here is already adequately sealed, with two-tier fencing and a flood-lit concrete area between the two fences,” Amarinder said in a statement.The sweeping statement made by him, without taking into account the unique topographical and geographical realities of the border in different regions of the country, reflects his ignorance about matters of national security, he added. The Congress leader said with the Punjab border being well insulated from incursions and intrusions, it was difficult to understand what the Home Minister means when he talks about “sealing” the Indo-Pak border.”Does he want to build concrete walls at the Punjab border?” he asked and added that the need of the hour was not to build walls but to create bridges. “Even the Berlin Wall had to be demolished in the interest of peace.”The PPCC chief alleged that the regressive policies of the Narendra Modi government are designed to take India back from its progressive path.

Punjab Elections 2017: Awaaz-e-Punjab to decide on alliance shortly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’Awaaz-e- Punjab’, a forum launched by former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, will hold a meeting in a day or two to clear the air about forging of an alliance for the state polls.”We shall have a meeting in a day or two to take a call on alliance,” Independent MLA Simarjit Singh Bains said today. Bains, who is part of the forum, said Sidhu is expected to come to Ludhiana in a day or two and then the meeting might take place. All members, including former hockey captain Pargat Singh, will have a meeting, he said.On Monday, ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ had said it is looking at forging alliance for the upcoming Punjab Assembly election, while ruling out the possibility of joining any fourth front so as not to play a “spoilsport” by dividing anti-incumbency votes. However, Bains said the front would not align with Amarinder Singh-led Congress in Punjab.”Amarinder is hand-in-glove with the Badals, his dubious and behind-the-curtain deals with the Badals are an open secret. There is no question of betraying the people of Punjab. Politics is a mission not a profession. This is a war between the right and wrong. We will be on the right side and back Punjab,” Bains said in a statement. Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu a few days back had announced that he would not float a party to contest the Assembly election as he did not wish to play a “spoilsport” by dividing anti-incumbency votes.He had said they had decided against forming a political party as it is too short a time to prepare for the polls, but added they were open to an “alliance” for betterment of Punjab.Bains said he has sought time from Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for a meeting to discuss with him an issue pertaining to water.”I today came to meet Badal in Chandigarh. But when I reached here I came to know that he is unwell,” he said. “I will try to meet him once he recovers from illness,” he said.

AAP says Awaaz-e-Punjab ‘bargaining for best deal’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Awaaz-e-Punjab said it would look at a political tie-up to contest elections in Punjab, AAP said the Navjot Singh Sidhu-led front seemed to be “bargaining for the best deal”, while Congress said it would welcome them if their agendas match.Awaaz-e-Punjab, which had initially been formed as a “non-political” front, had yesterday said it will look at the prospects of forging an alliance with the Congress or the AAP, while ruling out the possibility of joining a fourth front. “I consider it a political statement. I am smelling that it (Awaaz-e-Punjab) is bargaining with two political parties for getting best deal to work with,” AAP’s Punjab Convenor Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi said today. “They want to see which party is giving it more weight.People are looking at them to see what this front wants and their action will throw light on their real motive,” he said. Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh said the party was not in contact with representatives of Awaaz-e-Punjab. “They have not contacted us either. If they send us their common minimum programme then we will look at it and then decide,” the former Punjab Chief Minister and Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar said here.However, he added, “If their common minimum programme fits into our programme then yes we will welcome them. Whether we have an understanding or not will not not depend only on that as understandings do not take place only on manifestos.There must be other things also. There may be seats whether it suits us or not, we will have to see.” “If they seek AAP support, then they will have to take a decision on whether they want to support outsiders…they will have to explain to people of Punjab why they want to support people from outside,” Amarinder. Independent MLA and member of Awaaz-e-Punjab Simarjit Singh Bains yesterday said the front will “look at the possibilities in the Congress and the AAP to see which party has a strong agenda for Punjab and which can look after the state’s interests.After that, we will take a decision on forging an alliance with either of the parties to contest the Assembly polls on a common minimum agenda.” Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu had earlier announced that he would not float a party to contest the Punjab polls as he did not wish to play “spoilsport” by dividing the anti-incumbency votes. The former BJP MP had said they had decided against forming a political party as there was not enough time to prepare for the polls, but had added that they were “open to alliance” for the “betterment of Punjab”.

What Akalis have done to Punjab in 10 years, Kejriwal has done to Delhi in just a year: Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Mounting an attack on Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leader Amarinder Singh on Sunday said “Punjab is only for Punjabis” and warned the people that the AAP leader would “unleash chaos and disorder” in the state too “as he had done in Delhi”.”What the Akalis have done to Punjab in 10 years, Kejriwal has done to Delhi in just a year,” he said, referring to “chaos and disorder prevailing” in the national capital. His remarks came as the AAP supremo arrived in the state for the second time in less than three weeks to steer the party’s campaign for the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls. Amarinder said he firmly believes that “Punjab is only for Punjabis”, to whichever party or group they belong, adding that he will “fight against” Kejriwal from whichever seat he decides to contest in the upcoming polls.The state Congress chief said as he feared “large-scale bungling” by the ruling combine in Punjab in the upcoming polls, he had already approached the Election Commission (EC) for deployment of central forces and arranging for EVMs from outside the state. Amarinder said if his party comes to power in the state, it would take “all the required legislative and executive steps” to create more jobs for the unemployed youth and stressed on the need for industrialisation of the state.Speaking at his ‘Halke Vich Captain’ programme, the former chief minister said industrialisation was the “only solution” to provide jobs to the nearly 90 lakh unemployed youth in the 18-40 age group in the state.Amarinder said he would take all the measures to provide a “conducive environment” to the industries, including providing “cheap” electricity and land. Ropar-Gurdaspur would be developed as an “industrial belt” on a priority basis, he added.The Congress leader cautioned the people against the “alluring promises” of the Aam Aadmi Party and Kejriwal who, he said, had “adopted confrontation as a way of life”. He alleged that while Delhi was fighting dengue and chikungunya, Kejriwal “hospitalised himself” in Bengaluru and his deputy chief minister and other ministers were “holidaying in Europe”. Amarinder urged the people to recall his tenure as chief minister of Punjab between 2002 and 2007 and compare it with that of the Akalis in the state and the AAP in Delhi.He cautioned the people to vote carefully lest they ended up “pushing Punjab into chaos and anarchy again”. The Congress leader alleged that the Akalis had “destroyed Punjab beyond redemption”. “Their main achievement has been pushing an entire generation into drugs,” he alleged, adding, “Beware, lest they destroy another generation as well.”Amarinder said his “only cherished dream” now was to “bring back the cheer on the faces of Punjabis” which has gone “missing” over the last nine years of the SAD-BJP rule. He criticised the Parkash Singh Badal government’s policy of hiring employees on a contractual basis. “My government will ensure that employees are recruited on a regular basis and on proper pay scales,” he said, while criticising the state government for hiring teachers and doctors “on very low wages”.Later, talking to reporters, Amarinder slammed Badal for the alleged sacrilege incidents in the state over the last few months. Holding the chief minister squarely responsible for such incidents, he said adoption of such tactics before the polls was the “hallmark” of Badal whenever he saw his “throne in danger”. “Parkash Singh Badal often tries to polarise the society to garner votes whenever he sees his chair in danger,” the state Congress chief said.Amarinder claimed that the Badal government was “ill-equipped” for the ensuing paddy procurement season. “It has absolutely no arrangements in place, including money for procuring paddy,” he said. On reservation for the “poor among the general category”, the state Congress chief said he would ensure that the “downtrodden” sections in the category got “some sort of a relief” by reserving “some percentage of the quota available to it”.Amarinder promised to find a solution to the “ever increasing menace of stray animals” in the state by increasing the size of ‘gaushalas’ (cow sheds) and undertaking the fencing of the “existing beeds” (areas with a thick vegetation). In Chandigarh, Punjab Congress Legislature Party leader Charanjit Singh Channi said sacrilege incidents were blot on the Badals.He appealed to the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib to immediately withdraw ‘Fakhre Qaum and Panth Rattan’ conferred on Badal in the past as the CM has not done anything for the community. Sukhbir being the president of Shiromani Akali Dal and the home minister of Punjab should take responsibility for these (sacrilege) incidents,” Channi said, adding he should at least apologise to the people,… if he can’t muster moral courage to tender his resignation”.The Punjab CLP leader alleged religious scriptures of all the major faiths have been desecrated over the period beginning with Guru Granth Sahib last year. Security agencies seem to be helpless for which accountability must be fixed, he said.

Punjab polls 2017: Sidhu explains why Awaaz-e-Punjab will not be a spoilsport in the elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday announced that he will not float a party to contest the upcoming Punjab Assembly election, as he does not wish to play “spoilsport” by dividing anti-incumbency votes. Days after announcing the launch of Awaaz-e-Punjab, the former BJP MP said they have decided against forming a political party as it is too short a time to prepare for polls, but added that they are open to “alliance” for betterment of Punjab.”The forum welcomes any alliance for the betterment of Punjab and will not be a political party. May Punjab, Punjabiyat and every Punjabi win,” he said.In a statement issued, Sidhu said the forum will not “play spoilsport”. “The past is the best prophet to predict the future – the minimum time taken by a new party to win a state is almost two years…three months is too short a time for this Herculean task,” he said.”I have pondered over the fluid political situation in Punjab, weighed the pros and cons and come to a conclusive decision…We will not confuse the people of Punjab but give them clarity to vote in Punjab’s interest. We will not divide the anti-incumbency vote bank which could indirectly benefit the corroborative and collusive Badal-Amarinder nexus which has plundered Punjab in the last 15 years. This will defeat our purpose of bringing a change for the betterment of Punjab,” Sidhu said.”Our battle is to shake the system that has ruined Punjab. Politics is not a profession but a mission. There is no personal or political vendetta, just a burning desire to place Punjab ahead of us and reinforce the positive forces,” he said.The cricketer-turned politician claimed that the launch of the Awaaz-e-Punjab has had a “rousing response” in the state. Sidhu, along with MLA Pargat Singh and Ludhiana MLAs Simarjit Bains and Balwinder Bains, had recently announced the launch of the forum here after a public fall out here with BJP which he formally quit on September 14. Earlier there was speculation that he would join Aam Aadmi Party but it was ruled out after he lashed out at its national convener Arvind Kejriwal.

Reality Check: There’s been no let up in fidayeen attacks in Jammu and Kashmir since Kargil

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the terror attack on a military base in Jammu and Kashmir has given political ammunition to the Opposition to target the government, a pattern since the 1999 Kargil war shows that there hasn’t been any let up in suicide or fidayeen attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. While the last two and half years of NDA-rule led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have already witnessed 10 such attacks, the decade-long UPA rule under Manmohan Singh experienced 43 similar strikes. Interestingly, the only exception has been a two-year period between 2011 and 2012, when no such incident was reported.On Sunday when the Prime Minister strongly condemned the attack, promising that “those behind the despicable attack will not go unpunished”, the Opposition reminded him his September 2013 speech in Rewari, Haryana, saying “till we have a capable government in Delhi, which is nationalistic and committed to protect every citizen, we can’t guarantee security.” This rally was held in the backdrop of twin suicide strikes killing 13 including four policemen and four army personnel, including Lieutenant Colonel Bikramjeet Singh (39) in Samba District. “India has lost more jawans to bullets of terrorists than enemies from across the border.”Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav, in his Facebook post, recommended a “complete jaw for one tooth”. He wrote: “The PM has promised that those behind the Uri terror attack will not go unpunished. That should be the way forward. For one tooth, the complete jaw. Days of so-called strategic restraint are over.”But the Congress leaders, including former defence minister AK Antony, deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh and former minister Jitendra Singh, mocked him. Questioning the policy of appeasement resorted to by the Modi government, both towards Pakistan and the handling terrorism in Kashmir, Amarinder Singh, who is also spearheading party’s electoral campaign in Punjab said, “we as a nation need to tell it to Pakistan in simple and straight terms that enough is enough and we are not going to take it any more”.Antony described the attack as “a serious security lapse”. He said the incident, coming close on the heels of what happened in Pathankot, is a huge security lapse.”The Kashmir issue is drifting and reaching dangerous propositions. All this is happening with the knowledge of Pakistan,” he added. Jitendra Singh, who started the political blame game, said that the Modi government should stop diplomacy of sarees, biryanis, sweets, shawls and should instead send a hard-hitting message to Pakistan.Over the years more hardened and determined lot of militants have sneaked in to carry out sensational and deadly attacks. One such daring such attack, similar fashion to the one in Uri, which went largely unreported, took place on November 25, 2015, when three JeM militants attacked the army camp near the LoC at Tanghdar in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, setting ablaze barracks, vehicles and kerosene depot. Sources in the security establishment here stated that since the unprecedented turbulence following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, counter-insurgency grid has come to a grinding halt. The army has intercepted the infiltrating militants and neutralised some of them in Nowgam and Machhil sectors on the LoC, there has not been a single raid or operation in the hinterland since July. They deny that the intelligence has started drying up, saying that all the security agencies including the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir are getting information unhindered. However, all the field units have been directed to only maintain vigil over the activities and movement of the militants and avoid conducting any raid or counter-insurgency operation in the populated areas “during the period of turbulence”.While the frequency of the encounters along the LoC indicates alertness of the security forces, it also shows the high levels of attempts of infiltration. Officials revealed that in recent times most of the hideouts had been established in the localities and districts believed to be completely free of militancy. They pointed out that Wani and two of his associates had been traced to a militant-free area in Kokernag and killed there in an operation of surgical precision.Fidayeen attacksSince Kargil – 106NDA under Narendra Modi – 10UPA under Manmohan Singh – 43NDA under Atal Bihar Vajpayee – 53

Punjab: Akali Dal MLA Farzana Khatoon’s house attacked by mob over allegations of sacrilege

A mob allegedly attacked the house of local Akali Dal MLA Farzana Nissara Khatoon while protesting alleged sacrilege of a religious book forcing police to open fire, police said on Saturday.Six policemen including a DSP was injured as protesters who numbered around 300-400 indulged in stone pelting, torched a car and a room meant for security men outside the MLA’s house. The legislator who was in the house was safe, DSP Randhir Singh said on the incident that occured in Malerkotla town in Sangrur district last night. Farzana is the wife of former Punjab Police DGP Mohammad Izhar Alam.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As tension prevailed in the area, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged on Saturday to people to maintain peace and communal harmony while the opposition Congress and Aam Aadmi Party alleged it was a conspiracy to destabilise the state ahead of Assembly elections next year and demanded a judicial probe.
ALSO READ Desecration of holy book: Is Punjab getting back to militancy days?Congress leader Amarinder Singh claimed that the people wanted to meet the MLA in connection with the incident when her security personnel “fired indiscriminately” at them.The cause
ALSO READ Desecration of holy book: Parts of Punjab still tense, bandh observed amidst tight securityThe trouble started when some people allegedly found torn pages of a religious book near Jarag Chowk in Malerkotla. Protesting over the incident, a group of 300-400 people first blocked the Sangrur-Ludhiana highway. “They damaged three vehicles of the MLA including setting a car on fire. Then they also burnt down the room meant for security men outside the house of the legislator,” said the DSP.Police and security men of Khatoon fired in the air to disperse the crowd. The mob pelted stones at police personnel injuring to six policemen including a DSP, said police. Heavy police force has been deployed in the wake of the incident. DIG (Patiala Range) B S Sidhu said, “Situation (in Malerkotla) is peaceful now.” A case has been registered in this regard, police said, adding that no arrest has been made so far.
ALSO READ Punjab: CBI likely to visit Faridkot to probe holy book sacrilege incidentDGP (Law and Order) Hardeep Singh Dhillon along with IG (Patiala Zone) Paramjit Singh Umra Nangal visited the area and reviewed the situation on Saturday.CM Parkash Singh Badal speaksStrongly condemning the incident, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged the people to remain calm and said that nobody would be allowed to disturb the hard earned peace and communal harmony in the state. He appealed the people in general and especially the Muslim brethren to maintain peace, amity and communal harmony at all cost.Expressing deep anguish over the incident, Badal said it was time to display the ethos of religious tolerance, unity and brotherhood. He also warned the anti-social elements saying strict action will be taken against them.What does Amarinder Singh has to say?Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh expressed apprehension that the incident in Malerkotla was “conspiracy at the behest of the ruling party to disturb peace and destabilise Punjab” ahead of elections.Amarinder said that there appeared to be a pattern in these incidents. In Fatehgarh Sahib, less than a year ago a holy book was desecrated leading to protests and firing on people in which two protesters were killed, he said. “Now again, the pages of a holy book were torn out in a clear act of provocation and when the people wanted to meet the local MLA, whose husband Izhar Alam is an ex-DGP, his security personnel fired indiscriminately at them injuring so many,” he alleged.Demanding a time-bound independent probe, the PCC president said an “atmosphere of instability and uncertainty” will suit the Chief Minister since he has realised that he had “lost the trust” of the people.AAP’s takeAam Aadmi Party (AAP) termed the incident extremely unfortunate. Sangrur MP and senior leader AAP, Bhagwant Mann while demanding a judicial probe into all such incidents which have occurred in recent times in Punjab, said those responsible for attempting to create a communal wedge between various communities by resorting to desecration must be brought to book.Mann said prior to Malerkotla incident, alleged desecration of holy book was also engineered by certain anti-social elements to divide and create communal divisions between Punjabis on caste and religious lines. Mann said Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also controls Punjab police, has “completely failed” in putting an end to such incidents of alleged sacrilege which have been occurring at regular intervals for the past many months.

Amarinder Singh accuses Parkash Singh Badal of misappropriation worth Rs 12,000 cr

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh accused Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday of trying to hush up the “misappropriation” in Rs 12,000 crore Cash Credit Limit (CCL) meant for food grains procurement in the state.Also, blaming Badal for the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal construction, he said the Akali leader has “no moral authority” to question Congress over the issue. “Badal has no moral authority to blame the Congress for SYL as it was he (Badal) who had accepted Rs 2 crore from his Haryana counterpart, Devi Lal in 1978 for the construction of SYL canal, by giving precedence to personal relations over Punjab’s interests as he considered Devi Lal to be his ‘elder brother’,” he alleged.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amarinder alleged that “it is not the first time that Badal misappropriated money meant for procurement as during his previous tenure between 1997 and 2002 too he had done the same thing and misappropriated Rs 4,700 crore in a similar manner.””As they say ‘old habits die hard’, Badal had repeated the same thing by misappropriating the CCL money, most probably in Sangat Darshan programmes, which means the new government will inherit a deficit of Rs 12,000 crore once again,” he claimed.He disclosed that in 2002 when he took over as the Punjab chief minister, his government inherited a CCL deficit of Rs 4,700 crore from the Akali government. He said he had to give personal guarantee to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to ensure that the deficit is cleared, before further CCL was released. “When we demitted office in 2007 there was zero deficit,” he said.Reacting to Badal’s charge that Congress was responsible for SYL, Amarinder reminded him that it was the Congress government which in 2004 had repealed all previous water sharing agreements by enacting a law that legally relieved the state of its obligation to construct SYL and “saved Punjab’s precious water”.He accused Badal of “playing with the emotions of people by exploiting them” and pointed out how he delayed sending the Vidhan Sabha resolution to the Governor for his assent during the last session.

Rahul ‘shedding crocodile tears’ over drug issue in Punjab: SAD

The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday hit out at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi alleging he was “shedding crocodile tears” over the drug menace in Punjab.”It is clear you have no love lost for Punjabis or their sentiments so please stop shedding crocodile tears over drugs in Punjab,” SAD spokesman Daljit Cheema said in a statement here. At a rally in Jalandhar earlier, Gandhi, hitting out at the 9-year-old SAD-BJP government in the state, accused the Akalis of “protecting” drugs trade and said there was “ease in doing only one business in Punjab which is of drugs”. Cheema asked Gandhi to explain his remarks over the issue of drug addiction in Punjab.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress vice-president at the rally said, “The hands and feet of Punjab’s youth are chained and without breaking these chains, Punjab cannot move forward. Punjab’s people will have to accept this truth and only then we can wage a war against drugs. Nothing will happen by hiding it.” Cheema also alleged that the truth of the matter was that the drug trade “flourished” during Congress rule in Punjab. “Your government was in power at the Centre also for 10 years but did not do anything about the matter. It was only when the SAD- BJP government started taking sweeping steps to end this menace that you woke up about the problem and tried to score brownie points by wrongly quoting a survey report”, he added.
ALSO READ Only drugs business is easy to do in Punjab: Rahul GandhiCheema claimed Rahul was fond of reading verbatim from scripts handed over to him. He (Gandhi) did so when he claimed 70 per cent Punjabis were drug addicts four years ago and again today when he said police officers were sent on ‘Khudeline’ (unimportant) job by Punjab government, he said. “It would have been better if he had listed how much employment had been provided by the previous Amarinder Singh’s government in Punjab while speaking about unemployment.” “If you do a Google search on this issue you will come to know that the Amarinder government had banned recruitment.The SAD- BJP government on the other hand has recruited 1.30 lakh youths and recruitment processing for providing jobs to 1.25 lakh more youths is already on”, he added. “Defaming Punjabis is akin to cutting the sword arm of the country and weakening India”, Cheema said.

Punjab government has no intention of stopping the release of ‘Udta Punjab’: SAD

With the Bombay High Court clearing the decks for the release of ‘Udta Punjab’, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday said it has no objection to the release of the film, adding that the people will decide the fate of the Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt starrer.”The state government has no intention of stopping the release of the film,” Punjab Education Minister and SAD secretary and spokesman Daljeet Singh Cheema said on Monday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is the people who will decide whether to see it (the film) or not,” Cheema said while asserting that the Akali government was never opposed to freedom of expression. He was asked to comment on the court verdict.The Bombay High Court on Monday cleared the decks for the release of ‘Udta Punjab’ whose makers had locked horns with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) over multiple cuts demanded by the board. The High Court ordered the makers to delete a scene where Shahid Kapoor was seen urinating on the audience at a rock concert and display a revised disclaimer.Cheema said it was up to the censor board now whether to allow the release of the film or challenge the verdict.”We have not seen the film. Whatever the court has done is right. It is up to the censor board what decision it takes. We, as government, are nowhere in the picture,” he said.Alleging AAP’s “hand” in the making of ‘Udta Punjab’, SAD had earlier asked the party’s convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to accept AAP’s role in the making of the film as “his own tweets to welcome the film’s co-producer Sameer Nair had exposed the truth that the producer was an ‘active member’ of the Aam Aadmi Party”.Meanwhile, reacting to Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh’s statement that he would eradicate the drug problem in the state within a month of Congress forming the government in the next Assembly elections in 2017, Cheema said, “It means, he knows there is no drug problem in the state. When Amarinder stops raking up the drug issue, the problem will end. Till elections, both Amarinder and Kejriwal will continue to raise this issue.”Meanwhile, Congress and AAP on Monday welcomed the court’s decision.”I am glad that the Court has cleared the film with a single cut. Otherwise, left to a partisan censor board, the film would have been bereft of its soul,” Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh said in a statement.The HC verdict, he added, has vindicated all who stood by the makers of the film as it reflected “the harsh reality of Punjab”. Besides, he hoped, it will open the eyes of those who have always “preferred to keep them shut and live in denial”.The former Chief Minister said this should come as a “lesson” for the likes of Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal who, in their “characteristic denial mode”, instead of admitting and acknowledging the problem, had accused the filmmakers of defaming Punjab, like the way they had accused Rahul Gandhi when he had raised the issue four years ago.AAP MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann and party leader Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi said, the film seems to “depict the reality of the drug menace” in Punjab and needs to be released without any delay.Mann in a statement said, “As the Bombay High Court has cleared the film for release with one cut, it clearly shows that all the hue-and-cry was being made for political purposes. Now, the Akali-BJP leaders should watch the film closely so that they could know the reality of Punjab.””Art is the reflection of any society, there should be no politics in that. The Akali-BJP should abstain from politicising institutions related to art and culture,” said Ghuggi.”How can you dictate a maker about the context and plot of any film? Is the Akali-BJP alliance above the Constitution which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression,” he added.

Only drugs business is easy to do in Punjab: Rahul Gandhi

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Monday promised to end the drugs menace in Punjab if the party comes to power in 2017 Assembly polls in the state by bringing in a new law.Hitting out at the 9-years old SAD-BJP government in the state, Gandhi accused the Akalis of “protecting” drugs trade and said there was “ease in doing only one business in Punjab which is of drugs”. Gandhi also lambasted the Akali dispensation for unemployment in the state. Leading a dharna against the drugs menace and “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state, Gandhi asked people to be beware of the “dangerous enemy” which was “ruining” their lives, and promised to bring the state back on track.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Amarinder Singh ji said he will take one month to end the drugs problem when Congress comes to power. Why did he say so. If you have to eliminate the drugs problem, then you will have to give power to the police.”You will have to put right officers on the job and remove inefficient ones and this work is not being done by Akali Dal. When you do this job and you end the nexus of police and Akali Dal, then the drugs problem will be addressed in one month,” Gandhi said.”Those who have made money, big houses and robbed the youth of their money from this drugs trade, we will get that money back (from them) and return it to you. We will bring a law and deploy the police in the right manner to stop the menace,” he said. He also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. “Modi ji and Badal ji talk about ease of doing business. Punjab has only one business where there is ease and that is drugs business. That business is protected by Akali Dal,” he said.”There is no shortcoming in Punjab police. Jawans here had fought against terrorism … But the Akali Dal government has put good officers who want to work on ‘Khudeline’ (unimportant) job. The government asked them not to work and empowered the wrong officers,” he said. He said when he raised the issue of drugs problem four years back, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal made fun of him. On the controversy surrounding film ‘Udta Punjab’, which highlights the drugs problem in the state, Gandhi said, “Udta Punjab is being banned here. Today again, they are not ready to admit the truth, because they are benefiting from this.Everyday they benefit from this truth, from drugs and lawlessness in Punjab. Akali Dal and its leaders are benefiting from this.” “If Punjab wants a future, then it will have to eliminate drugs problem from the state. There is no other solution to this. Another matter has come to light. On the one side there is a problem of drugs and, on the other side there is a problem of law and order and unemployment,” Gandhi said. He also vowed to restore the money made by drug dealers to the victim families. Noting that Punjab’s future has been “destroyed”, Gandhi asked the people of the state to accept the reality of drugs in the state. “The hands and feet of Punjab’s youth are chained and without breaking these chains, Punjab cannot move forward. Punjab’s people will have to accept this truth and only then we can wage a war against drugs. Nothing will happen by hiding it. Punjab has the strength to recognise this truth as its people work with honesty and so does the Congress party,” Gandhi said.”I want to tell you that when Congress comes to power (after next elections), we shall fight against drugs the way we fought for Bhatta Parsaul, the way we sent back ordinance (on land acquisition) thrice,” Gandhi said. “Industrialisation which used to happen here, farmers who used to speak loudly, we shall bring that time again. We shall fight your MSP battle and we shall win it,” he said.Recalling the Bhatta Parsaul incident, Gandhi said when he raised the matter, people made fun of him.”When farmers in Bhatta Parsaul came to me, they told me about their pain. People made fun of me at that time and said why did you go to Bhatta Parsaul. I remember, they said nothing had happened in Bhatta Parsaul. “There was a truth in Bhatta Parsaul and farmers were feeling the pain. I fought for them and in the end, we got the Land Acquisition Bill,” he said.”Farmers know who fought for them, who did not. Modi Ji made a promise on MSP and farmers know what is the truth,” he said. “It is easy to speak but you ask farmers of Bhatta Parsaul who fought the battle and who brought the Bill and who stopped ordinance and with whose support, it was stopped,” he said talking about the agitation he led in Uttar Pradesh against alleged forcible land acquisition.He said the youth of Punjab had come to him and shared their pain about drug problem in the state, saying, “our future is being ruined”. Reacting to Gandhi’s announcement that his party will come up with a new legislation to deal with the drugs menace, senior AAP leader and Punjab in-charge Sanjay Singh said the Congress should first take action against those allegedly involved in the drugs trade within its organisation.”Your Jalandhar MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary is summoned by ED (Enforcement Directorate) in a drugs racket. What action are you taking against such people? Partap Singh Bajwa, against whom Amarinder Singh had written to Sonia Gandhi saying he was involved in drugs trade, but he has been sent to Rajya Sabha.”Gurchet Singh (Bhullar), an ex-minister from the Congress demands that whole Punjab should be given the licence to produce country-made liqour and open opium vends. What action has he taken? Is he doing drama of protesting against drugs,” Singh said.The AAP leader also claimed that Amarinder Singh was against CBI inquiry against Punjab Minister Bikram Majithia. “Why are you favouring Bikram Majithia. The drug trade is flourishing because of the leaders of the Congress, Akali Dal and the BJP,” Singh said.

If Punjab needs a better future, drug menace should stop: Rahul Gandhi in Jalandhar

Leading the protest in Jalandhar on Monday against the drug menace in the state, Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the Punjab government.

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

“On one side, Punjab has the drug menace and on the other, there’s unemployment and issues with law and order,” he said. “If Punjab needs a better future, there is no better way but to stop the drug menance in the state.”

Referring to Amarinder Singh’s vow to finish the drug menace in Punjab, he said that if Congress comes to power, this drug problem will be curbed in a month as the Congress intends to give more powers to the state police.

Attacking the Akali Dal, Gandhi said that it is important to give powers to the police to eradicate this problem and the Akali Dal leaders are not doing it.

“There are good police officers in Punjab police who want to work but SAD Govt isn’t giving them the required freedom to function,” he added.

The mass protest in Jalandhar was organised to highlight rampant drug abuse and collapse of law and order in Punjab in the wake of the controversy around Udta Punjab.

“Punjab has a crippling drug problem. Censoring Udta Punjab will not fix it,” Gandhi tweeted before the event.

Punjab elections 2017: Rahul Gandhi has no moral right to protest drug menace, says AAP

AAP leader Bhagwant Mann on Sunday said Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has no moral right to stage a protest against the drug menace in Punjab as he and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier failed to take action to resolve the problem. He accused Rahul of promoting tainted leaders and the former Prime Minister of keeping mum on the drug problem in the state in spite of former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi drawing his attention towards the issue.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Manmohan Singh maintained a stony silence despite Quraishi informing him of the enormity of the drug menace in Punjab during the 2012 assembly polls, while Amarinder chose to side with SAD minister Bikram Singh Majithia by opposing a CBI probe,” AAP MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann said.Quraishi had written a two-page letter to the then Prime Minister, “lamenting the staggering amount of drugs seized in the run-up to the 2012 Punjab Assembly polls. Instead of taking stern action, Manmohan Singh chose to keep mum and the letter got buried under government files….Rahul must also explain the conduct of Congress’ Jalandhar MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary, who was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and questioned over his links to SAD leader Chunni Lal Gabba, who is a drug smuggler,” the AAP MP said.”Gabba, a Goraya-based businessman, is facing a ED probe in a drug trade linking him to international drug lord Jagdish Bhola,” he said.Rahul rewarded Punjab Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa, “whom Amarinder had accused of being a drug smuggler with terror links” with a Rajya Sabha seat instead of taking action against him, Mann alleged.”In 2013, Amarinder had written a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, accusing Bajwa of being a drug smuggler with terror links. So, either Amarinder is lying or Rahul is promoting tainted leaders in the party,” the AAP MP said.”With such glaring revelations, Rahul and his party colleagues stand exposed and have no moral right to stage a protest against the drug menace,” Mann said.Rahul is scheduled to lead a Congress protest in Jalandhar tomorrow against the drug menace and “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state.

Removing ‘Punjab’ from ‘Udta Punjab’ is taking soul out of film: Amarinder Singh

Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Tuesday slammed the Censor Board after the makers of the film ‘Udta Punjab’ are said to have been asked by the Revising Committee of the Board to remove all references to the state in the movie and make 89 cuts. “It is like taking the soul out of the film’s body,” he said while pointing out that the whole theme of the movie revolved around Punjab and the “devastating” drug problem it faced. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amarinder said that instead of trying to “suppress the harsh reality of drug scourge in Punjab”, the state’s SAD-BJP government should better spend its energies in solving the problem. “Running away and shutting your eyes and ears and trying to gag those trying to present and portray the truth is certainly not going to help Punjab nor will it help you in anyway,” he said. Amarinder claimed that the whole world already knew the truth about drugs in Punjab as also those responsible for it. The MP from Amritsar hoped that better sense prevails over the Censor Board and it acts in an impartial manner and allow the movie to be released “unscissored”. The row over drug-themed Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab’, slated for release on June 17, escalated today with co-producer Anurag Kashyap hitting out at Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, calling him “oligarch” and “dictator” and that it was like living in North Korea. The Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh starrer movie that delves into how the youth in Punjab have succumbed to drugs, also unleashed political sparring, prompting Kashyap to ask parties to stay away from the censorship row.

Party to decide on Rahul Gandhi’s elevation: Ambika Soni

After being re-elected to the Rajya Sabha, Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni on Friday said the party will decide when the time was right to pass on the baton to Rahul Gandhi. “The fact that Rahul Gandhi has to be the president of the Congress party was a decision which the party entirely with its consent and concurrence took in January 2013 when it had unanimously elected him as the vice-president. You become Vice-President, so that one day in future you will take over as the President. Which day that will be, the party, its leadership, Rahul ji and Sonia ji themselves will take a call,” Soni said. The veteran Congress leader was replying to the recent remarks of Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh suggesting Rahul Gandhi to take over as Congress President.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She, however, described the current Congress president as a “catalytic force” who united various factions within the party and said the leadership baton will be passed on when the “time was right”.”Sonia Gandhi has really been a catalytic force in Congress party, she has united different factions and successfully gave them a direction. Without her, we would have never been able to form UPA-I, UPA-II and governments in so many states. So, whether we acknowledge that publicly or as every Congress worker always pays a silent tribute to her work, that is universal,” said Soni.When asked if senior leaders would want Sonia to continue as the party’s President, Soni, who is also chairperson of Congress’ Campaign Committee for the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections in 2017, said, “look, it’s not a question of anyone coming in because we don’t want her to continue. Congressmen would like to have all of them (the Gandhi family) in the party in one position or the other.” On the suggestion of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra entering into active politics, Soni said “these suggestions have been there for a very very long time. They have to take the final decision. They are thinking individuals, educated, born into Congress family. Priyanka Gandhi and Mr Vadra will take a call, it is the family who takes the call. We cannot force them. But definitely, Congress workers wants her to join,” she said.

Senior Congress leaders from Punjab to meet Rahul Gandhi in Delhi

Amid reports of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to be given the party’s throne, a delegation of senior party leaders from Punjab will meet him on Thursday in the national capital.Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Captain Amarinder Singh, who had earlier expressed hope that Rahul would do a good job as the party president, will have a one-to-one meeting with him for around 10 minutes. Following which, Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmad and Ambika Soni, who filed her nomination papers for Rajya Sabha election from Punjab on Thursday, will meet Rahul together.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, Amarinder asserted his confidence over Rahul Gandhi, saying he was ready to take charge as the Congress Chief now. “From his great grandfathers like Motilal Nehru to Jawaharlal Nehru and his grandmother Indira Gandhi to father Rajiv Gandhi, he has inherited the legacy of great leaders. I have worked with him for the last six months as PPCC chief, and have seen him taking all executive decisions. It is high time he is given more responsibility,” he said in a press conference.
ALSO READ Congress pitches UP role for Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra; Rahul to take over party reinsHe also said that it was time Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has served for 20 years, to take a call on her successor. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party has asserted that this development will be ideal in their plan of “Congress-mukt Bharat”.Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on his part dubbed the Congress as a ‘sinking ship’, adding the entire nation is aware of Rahul Gandhi’s calibre. According to sources, the grand old party is also likely to make major changes in senior positions following a series of defeats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the recent elections in various states of the country.

Time is right for Rahul: Captain Amarinder calls for scion to take over from Sonia Gandhi

As speculation raged over the issue, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh said that time is right for Rahul Gandhi to take over from his mother as Congress President and favoured Priyanka’s entry into active politics.”Sonia Gandhi is a brilliant leader. I have said that she has been working (as Congress President) for the last 20 years. If she feels that time has come to give it to a new generation, then she should pass it on and we will fully support Rahul (to take over),” he told a press conference here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was replying to a question whether time has come for Congress Vice-President to take over from Sonia Gandhi. Singh said, “Look, she has not talked to me (on the issue). But what we are coming to know is that she is now feeling that the time has come for a new generation (to take over), which everyone today is saying.”We are also saying so that 70 per cent of India’s population is under the age of 40 years. She also knows this, may be she feels she would like to hand it over to the new generation. I think there is nothing wrong in it.” Asked if Rahul could take over this month itself, Amarinder said, “look, I do not know this. If Sonia wants to hand it over to Rahul ji, I think everybody will support”.About Sonia, he said, “she has worked really hard. Let me tell you the amount of work she has put in since 1997, it is amazing”.”Her way of work has been very intensive..Now, if she is feeling that the time has come for her to handover the baton to somebody else, then we must honour what she wants. I think we have gained so much from her over the last 20 years that if she herself wants to leave, then we must honour what she wants,” he said.Asked if this will become a benchmark for party leaders who are over 70 years of age to quit in favour of younger generation, Amarinder replied, “No, its not a benchmark, everyone has his or her time. And everyone gets tired after a while.”I have also announced that I am not going to fight another election. Why because I have done 47 years now.” Amarinder Singh is leading the Congress’ campaign ahead of crucial 2017 Punjab assembly elections, where the opposition party is eyeing to wrest power from the SAD-BJP combine. About Rahul Gandhi, Amarinder Singh said, “I have been interacting with Rahul as Vice-President. Executive decisions are being taken by him. I find him very perceptive, he asks pertinent questions and he agrees what you say, if he feels it is right.” “Sonia is a brilliant leader, but you know we have to give (pause). Why am I wanting to quit (fighting 2017 as last elections), because I think enough is enough.I think the new generation has emerged and the baton should be passed to the new generation,” he said.”Similarly, I think Soniaji wants to do the same. Nobody is asking her to handover (the baton). It is her own thinking that she would like Rahul to take over. And that of course when the matter is put before the party, I am sure we will all endorse Rahul,” he said.Asked if he has full faith in Rahul’s leadership, the former Punjab CM further said, “I have been interacting with him on many occasions. Everybody learns and I think in the last 4-5 years, he has learnt a lot. I am meeting him even tomorrow.”When asked if he will make a good leader, he replied, “I am sure he will make a good leader.” He also added that Rahul belongs to a family in which politics runs in its blood right from Moti Lal Nehru to Jawahar Lal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.When asked what about Priyanka Gandhi, he said, “I hope she will come into (active politics). I have always suggested that she must come into this thing. She will be a great asset to the Congress President and the Vice-President.” Asked if Rahul will get full support of the party, he said, “why not. There is a system of take over, it is not Amarinder Singh announcing or Sonia ji announcing, the party will meet on the issue.”

After embarrasing Assam and Kerala losses, will Congress finally wake from its stupor?

After the election results, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said: “We accept the verdict of people with humility. My best wishes to the parties that have won the elections”. Meanwhile, his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi said: “We will introspect into the reasons for our loss and will rededicate ourselves to the service of the people with greater vigour”. Both statements were bland homilies, served up after Congress crashed in another round of embarrassing defeats in the state elections. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After hitting a historic low of 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress has shown no signs of revival, losing Maharashtra, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and now adds Kerala and Assam to the list. Congress has only been on the right side of the mandate in Bihar where it piggy-backed on Nitish Kumar’s fame. So overall Congress’ strategy isn’t really working as of now. Even in Tamil Nadu, the grand old party failed to create any momentum for DMK and Jaya came back to power despite fighting anti-incumbency. It showed ideological inflexibility in Assam by not aligning with AIUDUF. In Kerala, it didn’t take any action despite massive allegations of corruption. So it was a case of tactical blunder that proved to be costly. Now, any other party with a proper functional democracy and maybe an iota of self-respect, some heads would have rolled. A proper review would have been done and efforts would have been made to engineer the party to a new direction. But a party that’s 130-years-old can brazenly move past this with a fig leaf of introspection and perfunctory tweets for course correction. After today, Congress is currently just governing 6% of the Indian population through various states. It is out of power in all the big states except Karnataka, where it is mired in controversy. Since 2014, its only modus-operandi has been to attack Modi ad-hominem and block all legislation in Rajya Sabha including the all important GST. The plan is to bide time till 2019 when Modi government is again up for re-election. But as the election results suggest, people of India are not exactly fine with this strategy. In state after state, the party has been rejected with a decisive mandate. Many will try to spin today’s results as anti-incumbency in Assam and a normal course of change in Kerala. But the extent of defeat is what should keep Congress worried. In Bengal, it managed to increase its seat marginally thanks to the support from Left. Fighting separately, its organisation would have been thoroughly exposed. The only silver lining in the dark cloud was in the union territory of Puducherry. Already all steps have been taken to hedge Rahul Gandhi from all embarrassment. While on Tuesday, Ajay Maken credited a minor surge of seats in MCD to Rahul Gandhi but hell hath no fury had the Yuvaraj been blamed for today’s loss. Can Congress come out of this stupor? There has been a murmur of generational change, of Rahul Gandhi taking over. But so far nothing has materialised. The older generation, including the likes of Amarinder Singh, is still in favour of status quo fearing that will be sidelined in the new regime. But it is time for Congress to take a hard call. Either Rahul needs to take charge of the party or the leadership should look beyond the dynasty to find a credible face. Merely waiting for Modi to fall and stutter is unlikely to change Congress’ fortunes. The party must act fast. Else, the list of ‘introspection tweets’ will only increase in the future. Who knows, Modi’s rhetorical ‘Congress Mukt’ Bharat could become a reality very soon.

Punjab polls: Capt Amarinder Singh criticises Sukhbir Singh Badal’s China visit

Taking a dig at Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s trip to China, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Monday alleged that he had gone to explore his “personal investment options and opportunities” there.”…No doubt that Sukhbir having realised that he had exhausted all options of investment in Punjab and also the fact that he was going to have enough time post-2017 Assembly elections after getting defeated by the Congress, he was now looking at the business opportunities in unexplored places like China, where, he might be thinking, his investments will remain away from public scrutiny,” Amarinder said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Badal currently is in China to showcase the State as an attractive investment destination. “I challenged Sukhbir to show a single penny worth of investment that he can claim he has brought to Punjab after the visit or during the last nine years of being in power,” he said.Singh alleged that the manufacturing sector, particularly the bicycle industry, was moving out to other states like Jharkhand and about 20,000 big and small industrial units were already shut down in Punjab. Taking a jibe at Sukhbir’s announcement about setting up the “cycle valley” in Ludhiana, Capt Amarinder said, “it was not for the first time that catchy phrases were being coined in an apparent bid to fool people”.”What happened to the textile park in Ludhiana?” or may be you plan to set up the ‘cycle valley’ on the rooftop of the textile park,” he questioned. “Earlier we saw much hyped investor summits without a penny of investment and now we are being made to believe that the investments will come from China,” he alleged.

Punjab elections 2017: HS Phoolka claims that Prashant Kishor contacted him, I-PAC dismisses claim as ‘canard’

Anti-Sikh riots lawyer and AAP leader HS Phoolka on Sunday claimed that poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who has been helping the Congress in Punjab, contacted him to seek suggestions on the issue of justice to the Sikhs, Kishor’s organisation I-PAC, however, dismissed the claims as “canard”.Maintaining that Kishor wanted his suggestions to “incorporate” it in Congress manifesto, the noted lawyer trained guns on the Congress leadership on the issue. Before giving any suggestions, Phoolka said the Congress should come out clean on the “genocide of the Sikhs”. “Prashant Kishor contacted HS Phoolka and wanted to have a meeting with him. When Mr Phoolka declined to have a meeting and even refused to meet his mediator, the mediator sent an SMS to Mr Phoolka that Prashant Kishor wants Mr Phoolka’s suggestions on the issue of ‘justice to the Sikhs’ for incorporating the same into the Congress manifesto,” the lawyer claimed in a Facebook post.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When contacted Prashant Kishor, he was unavailable for comment. Prashant Kishor’s organisation I-PAC however, dismissed he claim as complete farce and canard. “PK contacting @hsphoolka is complete farce and typical AAP canard. We challenge him to present proof else apologise for this publicity stunt,” I-PAC tweetedIn his “suggestions” to Kishor, which Phoolka “chose to” give through the “media”, the lawyer said Capt Amarinder Singh, Congress’ Chief Ministerial candidate in the state, should apologise to the victims for giving a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler and should ensure that henceforth he will support the victims in their struggle for justice.”Mrs Sonia Gandhi should disclose what all transpired in their house on November 1 and 2, 1984 when one Sikh was killed every minute within the radius of 5 kms of her residence and over 4000 sikhs were killed in a span of 48 hours. “She should disclose who was the main conspirator for these killings,” the Facebook post said, adding the Congress President should also “apologise” for the remarks made by her husband Rajiv Gandhi after the carnage that “when a big tree falls, the earth beneath it shakes”.He said Congress Vice-President should inform the people whether he was aware about the killings going on November 1 and 2, 1984 and “deprecate” his father for killings of innocent citizens of this country.

Rahul to meet Congress leaders in Punjab to discuss state assembly elections

Chandigarh: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will meet party workers and leaders in Punjab and discuss issues related to Assembly polls next year and the party’s preparedness.

The meeting, organised by poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s organisation Indian Political Action Committee, assumes significance as the state Congress, which faced “factionalism”, wants to “put up a united face” to take on SAD-BJP alliance and emerging AAP in the polls.

A file photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTIA file photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

A file photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Senior Congress leaders Jagmeet Brar and Bir Davinder Singh were suspended for their outbursts against party leaders, especially Amarinder Singh.

Rahul will reach Zirakpur around 11:30 am on Saturday and will hold a meeting with party workers and leaders. He will stay there till 4 pm, sources said.

Almost 2,000-2,500 party members including sitting MLAs, MPs, ex-MLAs, block presidents, and other office bearers will attend the meeting, they said.

Congress faced defeat in 2007 and 2012 Punjab Assembly polls and aims to wrest power in 2017.

On 9 April, Rahul held a meeting, to discuss political and organisational challenges in Punjab, with Congress leaders, including in-charge of party affairs in Punjab Shakeel Ahmad, state unit chief Amarinder Singh, Ambika Soni, CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi, AICC Secretary Harish Choudhry and Prashant Kishor.

Prashant Kishor, who played a key role in victories of Narendra Modi-led BJP in the general elections and JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance in Bihar, will help Congress in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, where elections are scheduled for next year.

Unruly scenes in Punjab Assembly; Congress members throw booklets

Punjab Assembly on Monday witnessed unruly scenes when some opposition Congress MLAs threw booklets containing the achievements of Amarinder Singh government towards the treasury benches.During Zero Hour, Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi along with other Congress members protested against not being allowed by Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal to speak on the floor of the House.In the melee, some Congress MLAs, including Kuljeet Singh Nagra, threw booklets containing achievements of Amarinder Singh-led Congress government between 2002 to 2007 towards the treasury benches. Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia of SAD expressed surprise and asked the reason for the act.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Besides, the booklets contained pictures of Congress leaders (whose names were expunged by the Speaker)…its shameful,” he said.As the situation got worse, the Speaker adjourned the House for 17 minutes. After the House re-assembled, Majithia took a dig at the Congress, saying he wanted to file a complaint regarding lost and found as “some one has lost a document which is with him” (referring to the thrown booklets).Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal sought an apology from the Congress.”They (Congress MLAs) have lowered the dignity of their own big leaders,” he said referring to the booklets which had pictures of Congress leaders.The Speaker, with folded hands, requested the opposition to maintain the decorum and called for taking up the next agenda.However, unrelenting Congress members went into the well of the House and staged a vociferous demonstration for about 15 minutes before walking out.

Rahul Gandhi holds marathon meeting to devise Punjab polls strategy

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi tonight held a marathon meeting with the leaders from Punjab to plan the party’s strategy for the 2017 state Assembly elections.The meeting which started around 7 PM continued for over four hours and was also attended by poll strategist Prashant Kishor.All prominent leaders from the state, including former PCC chiefs Partap Singh Bajwa, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Shamsher Singh Dullo and senior party leader Ambika Soni and MPs and ex-MPs, attended the meeting, senior leader Jagmit Singh Brar was conspicuous by his absence.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 30 state leaders were also present during the meet.Sources said the party discussed it’s plans on how to counter AAP which is a growing force in the state and mooted ways to reach out to the targeted electorate especially the youth.Today’s meeting comes in the wake of a similar session with Uttar Pradesh leaders with Kishore on March 2.Congress has been out of power in Punjab for the past decade and to end this “bad patch”, the party and Rahul Gandhi are working hard to wrest back power.Sources said that the party will try and woo it’s traditional vote bank of dalits and the marginalised sections and also focus on youth and women.The party would chalk out plans of holding interactions with youth and various other sections in the coming months, the sources said.PCC chief Amarinder Singh later said the the meeting was aimed at discussing the poll strategy and evolve plans for the party’s campaign ahead.Various leaders also gave their suggestions aimed at wooing the masses and countering the growing influence of AAP in the state.Apart from the ruling SAD-BJP combine, the party is set to face a spirited challenge from AAP, which is gaining ground in the agrarian border state.

Ahead of Punjab elections, famous Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans joins Congress

Famous Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans on Saturday joined the Congress party. He was inducted into the party by the PCC president Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh.Welcoming Hans into the party, Amarinder said, given his appeal that goes across all the sections of the society his joining the Congress will definitely benefit it. He said people like Hans who enjoy a clean image and reputation are widely admired by the people.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking on the occasion Hans said, he had resigned from the Akali Dal about one and a half year ago as he had not found it coming to his expectations. Hans said he looked around and found that the Congress under Amarinder’s leadership was best suited to rule Punjab. He made it clear that he had not joined the party with any condition as his only aim was to see Punjab grow and prosper.About the Aam Aadmi Party, he said, there was a “great gulf” in what they preach and what they practice. He said, the AAP “balloon was deflating” in Punjab.

Amarinder Singh rejects Arvind Kejriwal’s charges on posters issue

Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder Singh on Friday rubbished Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s charges against him over the circulation of AAP leaders’ posters along with Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, accusing the latter of being a “congenital and compulsive liar”.”Given the fact that he (Kejriwal) is a congenital and compulsive liar, I am not surprised over his backing out himself and blaming me for what his party has done,” Amarinder said in a statement issued.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is a classic case of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds,” the former Chief Minister said, adding, “first they (AAP) circulated posters asking people to celebrate Bhindrawale’s birthday and when it boomeranged on them, Kejriwal tried to back out in his characteristic fugitive manner he is well known about”.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind on Thursday had rejected Amarinder’s allegation that his party AAP had nexus with Khalistanis.”It is Amarinder who is doing this. He is doing photo shopping–of juxtaposing our photos with Bindrawale-and putting them on posters,” Kejriwal had said on Thursday in the national capital.Amarinder dared the Aam Aadmi Party to lodge an FIR and get the matter investigated and if it (AAP) does not do so, he will get it done after the Congress forms the government in Punjab.”We will not allow them to play the double game of stealthily playing the extremist agenda and publicly denying it later,” he warned.The PCC president said if the AAP was really not behind the posters issue then why did the party convener in Punjab, Sucha Singh Chhotepur backed out from filing a complaint.”You have always tried to survive on rumours by first flashing a rumour and then backing out”, he said while adding, “we are yet to hear any truth from you since you came into the public life”.The former Chief Minister said instead of “crying and cribbing”, the AAP should have lodged an FIR under various sections of the cyber law.

Actor and stand-up comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi joins AAP

Actor and stand up comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi on joined Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in New Delhi.Addressing media here, Sanjay Singh, senior leader of AAP said party will benefit with the joining of Ghuggi as it will also give a positive message among people especially youth of state.Ghuggi, after joining the party, said he was impressed with the work done by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who brought “practical agenda and approach” on the political landscape to resolve peoples issues which was lacking in other traditional parties.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”(Parkash Singh) Badal and Amarinder are traditional leaders, Kejriwal brought new formula, practical agenda which I do not see in other political parties,” Ghuggi said.Ghuggi, 44, who had worked in Hindi movies like ‘Namastey London’, ‘Race’, however, said he had neither been a politician nor was interested in it.”But it really hurts you when you read news about farmers committing suicides every day after they could not pay their debt. Then today’s youth becoming manner less on roads with no political will to stop them and most importantly, youth of Punjab are taking drugs, a curse which is driving divorce and making youth impotent” he said.”AAP gives me a platform by way of which I can share pain of people and highlight them.. in building new Punjab. It is a debt which I wanted to repay to my soil and state,” he said.Asked whether he will contest Punjab assembly polls, Ghuggi said he had no “motive” to contest polls.”But if the party orders me to do so, I will have to follow its directions,” he said, adding that he would like to work for Gurdaspur and Amritsar area.”It is shameful that our farmers whose debt could be as low as Rs 25,000 are ending their lives. Today there is adulteration in food, milk, fruits… I will also work in this regard,” he said.Ghuggi has worked in Hindi movies like Akshay Kumar starrer Singh is Kinng, Humko Deewana Kar Gaye. He has also acted in Punjabi flicks like ‘Asa Nu Maan Watna Da, Yaara Naal Bahaara, Jijja Ji, Munde UK De’.Ghuggi, further said that he would continue to work in film industry despite being a party member and will appear in 10 movies which will be released this year.

Congress leader Amarinder Singh warns AAP against ‘destabilising’ Punjab

Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) not to engage in “disruptive and destabilising tactics” while terming it “anti-national”.”Bhagat Singh wanted freedom from British, who does AAP want freedom from. Inquilab is a revolutionary word given by Bhagat Singh. He gave his life for nation’s sake and now when our country is one, they (AAP) want to break it again by resorting to disruptive and destabilising tactics,” the former Chief Minister said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amarinder lashed out at the AAP saying, “In the political arena in India, which has a Constitution, a Parliament and a system, you cannot ask for a revolution within the country, it is anti-national. And you will disturb Punjab”.Speaking to reporters after inducting singer and former AAP leader Balkar Sidhu into the party, he asked the AAP to come clean “about the posters circulated by it, carrying pictures of Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, Arvind Kejriwal, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Sanjay Singh and Bhagwant Mann, asking people to celebrate his (Bhindrawale’s) birth anniversary by paying obeisance at the nearest gurdwaras.”However, senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh rubbished the claim saying his party has nothing to do with the posters being circulated in the social media or otherwise.Accusing AAP of waging a rebellion, the former Chief Minister said, on the one hand they were asking people for revolution and on the other hand exhorting people to celebrate Bhindrawale’s birth anniversary.”The AAP seems to be going beyond even Simranjit Singh Mann’s Khalistan agenda,” Amarinder said, adding, “they are trying to wage a rebellion”. He said, both the things were linked and it was dangerous for Punjab.Replying to another question on the racial attacks on Sikhs in the United States, Amarinder said, more than anybody else, it is the alleged failure of the SGPC Dharam Prachar Committee which has neither done any work at home nor abroad.”Why SGPC can’t spend it abroad by educating people there that the Sikhs are distinct from others”, he said.The PCC president thanked the US President Barack Obama for inducting a Sikh as top official in his government so that it gets clarified that the Sikhs are not Arabs.”If Obama can feel for the Sikhs, I am surprised why the SGPC cannot..They should make people understand what is the difference between Osama Bin Laden and a Sikh. Unfortunately, they are not doing our duty?” he said hitting out at SGPC.Asked if there was a possibility of Congress entering into a tie-up or some understanding with other parties before next year’s assembly polls, he replied, “Punjab needs stability, if secular forces align, that will bring stability”.Amarinder said he had met senior CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury once recently, but the issue was not discussed. As far as BSP was concerned, he said any tie-up with Mayawati-led party will depend on what the senior leadership of the two parties decide.”But yes, we want that secular forces should join hands so that Punjab remains stable,” he said.Amarinder also lashed out at the ruling Akalis, alleging during past ten years, Punjab has gone down.”There has been total destruction of everything, be it agriculture sector, industrial sector, rise in unemployment..So we have to have a stable government and one which has experience,” he said.

Congress leader Amarinder Singh demands white paper on Punjab’s economy

Punjab Congress on Sunday demanded a white paper on the state’s economy and blamed the SAD-BJP government for allegedly putting the state into “financial mess.”Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Amarinder Singh in a statement issued in Chandigarh demanded that Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal bring a white paper on the state of economy in Punjab.”The state debt has already crossed 1.25 lakh crore and by the time the Akalis are thrown out, the debt would already have crossed Rs 1.4 lakh crore,” Amarinder claimed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”So much so the state has to take loans to service its debts”, he said and alleged that the Akalis have mortgaged the jails and old age homes to get further loans for survival. And if Sukhbir still believes that the state of economy is not bad and this was being deliberately done to malign the government’s image he should better bring out a white paper and bring out the truth before the public”, he suggested.Amarinder also targeted SAD’s ally BJP in the state and alleged, “Bharatiya Janata Party cannot wriggle out of the mess it has created in Punjab in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal by simply walking out at the eleventh hour after having enjoyed power for last nine years.”Reacting to the reports that some state BJP leaders want to part ways with the Akalis, the PCC president said, although it was their internal affair whether to continue with the alliance or not, one thing the party cannot escape is the onus and responsibility for being partners in the “sins of omission and commission” of this government during last nine years.”If the BJP thinks that by walking out of the alliance at the eleventh hour, people of Punjab can forgive it, the party is badly mistaken”, he said, while pointing out, at no point of time did the party raise any objection to the “rampant loot” the Akalis resorted to.He said, rather they became “equal partners” in everything.”It is not that the party has woken up to some moral consciousness, but the harsh realisation that it cannot win even a single seat in alliance with the Akalis and that is the reason why the party wants to walk out now”, the former Chief Minister said, claiming, whether the BJP remains with the Akalis or walks out both the parties are destined to be “doomed” in 2017.

No Sikh regiment in Republic Day parade: SAD to raise issue in Parliament

Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday said it will raise the issue of the absence of a Sikh regiment contingent in this year’s Republic Day parade in the coming session of Parliament.SAD Secretary General and Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa told reporters.The absence of a Sikh regiment contingent at the Republic Day parade where French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest, was a setback to the struggle of Sikhs who have been fighting for their rights in France. He said that the issue would be raised in the coming session of Parliament.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday in this regard.Badal had described the absence of the Sikh regiment as “sad and regrettable” while Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh termed it as a “grave omission”.

Amarinder Singh dares Sukhbir Singh Badal for snap polls

Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder Singh on Thursday challenged Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to dissolve the Assembly and go for a snap poll if the Akalis were confident about their popularity in the state.A day after announcing the Congress was “boycotting” the Khadoor Sahib bye-poll, Amarinder reacted sharply to Sukhbir s yesterday’s comment that they had run away from the field.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I’d be glad if Sukhbir, who is claiming so much popularity, announces a snap poll. I assure him, we’ll not disappoint him. We’ll contest and defeat him,” he said.Punjab’s Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal had said on Wednesday the Congress party “has fled the Khadoor Sahib field out of fear of certain and humiliating defeat”.Amarinder however said they boycotted the bye-poll on principles as the issues of sacrilege, on which Congress MLA Ramanjit Singh Sikki resigned necessitating the bye-poll, still remain unresolved. He claimed Congress would have won the bye-poll anyway since people of Khadoor Sahib endorsed Sikki s decision.But retaining one Assembly seat, with a life left for less than a year, is immaterial for us, he said.”Our main concern and priority is to get those responsible for desecration and killing of peaceful protesters, punished, which we will certainly do after forming our government in 2017,” Amarinder said.The PCC chief also took a dig at the Aam Aadmi Party for accusing Congress had an understanding with the Akalis over boycotting the by-election.”I’ve only one question for the AAP. If we’ve an understanding with the Akalis on the matter of principle, why did it (the AAP) not contest itself?” he asked.AAP has decided not to field its candidate as it wants to concentrate on the 2017 Assembly polls in the state. The last date for filing of nominations ended yesterday and ruling Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Ravinder Singh Brahmpura is the only prominent nominee in the fray.After scrutiny today, the last date for withdrawal of nominations is January 30. Counting for the February 13 election will be held on February 16. The seat had fallen vacant after Congress’ Ramanjit Singh Sikki had resigned over incidents of sacrilege in his constituency last year.

Government decides to merge Overseas Indians Ministry with MEA

The Ministry initiated various programmes focusing on developing networks with and amongst the overseas Indians with the intent of building partnership with the diaspora.

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Mufti Mohammad Sayeed laid to rest, Mehbooba Mufti to succeed as CM of Jammu and Kashmir

The Central Government also announced that the national flag will be flown half-mast today across the country as a mark of respect to the departed leader. The Cabinet adopted a resolution was passed which said in the passing away of Sayeed, the nation has lost an eminent and distinguished leader, a true nationalist and a stalwart from Jammu and Kashmir. The Cabinet also extended its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.

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Punjab bans manufacturing of Gutkha, Paan Masala

The state government had already issued a notification on January 1 banning the storage, sale or distribution of tobacco items by whatever name these are called as final products in the market and has been prohibited for one year in Punjab. The Chief Minister has categorically directed the Health Department for strict compliance of these orders and said that no laxity by any erring officials in its implementation would be tolerated at any cost, the spokesperson said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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‘Bomb’ scare in south Delhi market

The caller was a 40-year-old mentally challenged person who called up the control room at around 6.10 pm, following which several police teams, along with bomb disposal squads, and fire tenders were rushed to the Parliament premises. The national capital is on a high alert till January 26 and security has been already stepped up following the terror attack at Pathankot and then inputs received by the police about the presence of suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad key members here.

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