Punjab Politics

Punjab Local bodies poll results vindicated Congress policies, defeat of opposition propaganda: Capt Amarinder 

Capt Amarinder Singh
December 17, 2017 08:30 PM

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has hailed the Municipal Corporation, Nagar Panchayat & Municipal Committee poll results as a clear vindication of the Congress policies and a resounding defeat of the Opposition’s deceitful propaganda.
The Chief Minister congratulated the people of Punjab for not succumbing to the pressure tactics of the Opposition, which had tried hard to derail the free and democratic poll process with its cheap gimmickry and provocative acts.
Citing reports of Akali workers threatening voters to stay at home and not come out to cast their ballots, Captain Amarinder said the SAD-BJP combine, faced with imminent defeat, had stooped to historic lows in a desperate bid to wrest these polls. The Opposition had used all possible tactics – from open threats to misleading statements and rumour mongering – to intimidate the voters, but failed miserably, said the Chief Minister, adding that the people of Punjab had meted out a befitting punishment to them for all their misdemeanours.
Citing the high voter turnout, Captain Amarinder said the people of Punjab had once again shown their political maturity and courage in fighting the nefarious designs of the SAD-BJP combine and AAP, both of which had been completely wiped into oblivion from the electoral landscape of the state.
The people had not forgotten what the Akalis had done for 10 years and had responded by voting them out of power in the Assembly elections and now handing them a crushing defeat in the local bodies’ elections, said the Chief Minister. He came down heavily on the feudal Akali practice of holding Sangat Darshans, which had kept development out of the state, he said, adding that the people had vented their anger against them once again in these elections.
As far as AAP was concerned, it had come to Punjab like a summer storm but had been completely decimated, with no apparent hope of revival, Captain Amarinder said.
The Chief Minister, while thanking the people for their overwhelming support, said the high voter turnout showed that the voters remained steadfast in their loyalty to the Congress and were no longer willing to be intimidated by political `goondas’, out to obstruct the process of free and fai polls. The huge turnout, he added, was also an endorsement of the fact that the Congress government had successfully upheld the democratic traditions, which were the cornerstone of the party’s philosophy and a personal commitment he had made to the people of Punjab.
The Opposition’s desperate efforts to undermine the government’s efforts to ensure a free and fair poll environment were a sign of their growing frustration over their repeated failure to wrest power from the Congress at any level, said Captain Amarinder.

The sweeping victory for the Congress in the local bodies’ elections, which many political pundits and even the media had described as a litmust test for the party, clearly showed that the government was on the right track and the people were more than satisfied with its achievements of the past nine months, the Chief Minister added.

Punjab Politics

SAD demands rollback of decision to slash government holidays

December 29, 2017 10:40 AM

CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today termed the Congress government‘s decision to slash the list of government holidays as a ‘totally dictatorial, irrational and insensitive’ step taken without taking the other stakeholders into confidence, even as it demanded its immediate roll back.

In a statement here, SAD spokesman and senior Vice-President Dr. Daljit Singh Cheema said the Congress government had been playing gimmicks since its formation to divert the people’s attention from its failures as it had betrayed the people of Punjab on every promise made to them to get their votes. “Now it has suddenly slashed the list of government holidays, arrogantly ignoring the peoples’ cultural and religious attachments to those important days", he added.

Castigating the state government for deleting the important occasions like birth and martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Vaisakhi, Mahashivratri, Parshuram Jayanti, May Day, martyrdom day of shaheed udham Singh, Eid-Ul Juha, martyrdom day of Shri Guru teg Bahadur ji and installation of Shri Guru Granth sahib ji, the SAD leader said nobody could argue about the importance of these days as helped us recognize the common fabric of brotherhood that keep us all united amidst the differences of faith, creed and caste. He said the government should not repeat its history of playing with the sentiments of people which could push the state into the communal disharmony.

Rejecting the state government‘s lame excuse of providing better governance by the slashing of government holidays, the SAD leader said that the Captain Amarinder government could not even find time to complete its cabinet strength by executing much needed expansion since last 9 months, let alone the welfare of people. “The secretariat always wears a deserted look as the ministers don’t bother to visit their offices. There has been no governance at all in the state since the last nine months", he added.

National News

Mumbai rooftop pub fire kills 14

December 29, 2017 10:38 AM

MUMBAI: At least 14 people were killed, 21 others hurt when a major fire broke out in a pub in the Kamla Mills Compound here early on Friday, an official said.

The blaze was reported around 12.30 a.m. from a bistro The Mojo, a rooftop restaurant pub in The Kamla Trade House and quickly spread to another surrounding pub and a restaurant, said an official of BMC Disaster Control.

More than 12 fire tenders were rushed to fight the blaze which was brought under control around 6.30 a.m.

While the majority of the victims are reported to have perished on the spot, the firemen could rescue 10 others safely from the leaping flames. The injured have been admitted to the KEM Hospital and other hospitals for treatment.

The entire pub and the surrounding complex was full of patrons including many women and tourists thronging the fashionable area to unwind.

Mumbai Police have booked the owner of the pub for negligence and other charges for the fire, suspected to be triggered by an electric short-circuit.

There are many major corporate and media house offices situated in the posh Kamla Mills Complex whose working is likely to be affected on Thursday.


Cold, foggy Sunday morning in Delhi, 17 trains cancelled

December 24, 2017 11:16 AM

NEW DELHI: It was a cold and foggy morning here on Sunday with the minimum temperature recorded at 6.3 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season's average, the Met Office said. At least 17 trains were cancelled due to fog in several parts of northern India.

Around 19 trains were delayed and six rescheduled, a Northern Railway official said.

"The sky will be clear during the day," an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

The maximum temperature is likely to hover around 25 degrees Celsius.

The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 91 per cent and visibility was 800 metres.

Saturday's minimum temperature was recorded at 10.6 degrees Celsius, three notches above the season's average while the maximum temperature settled at 25.2 degrees Celsius, four notches above the season's average.

Court lifts stay on 'The Wire' story on Amit Shah's son

December 23, 2017 08:56 PM

AHMEDABAD: A civil court here on Saturday vacated an ex parte and interim injunction imposed on news web portal 'The Wire' against further use and follow-up of its story in October about the astronomical rise in the business of BJP President Amit Shah's son Jay Shah after the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014.

The court had originally on October 12 granted Jay Shah an all-encompassing stay order which prevented 'The Wire', its editors and the author of the story, 'The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah', from taking the story any further.

The injunction was against, "using and publishing or printing in any electronic, print, digital or any other media, or broadcast, telecast, print and publish in any manner including by way of interview, holding TV talks, debate and debates, news items, programmes in any language on the basis of the article published in 'The Wire' (dated 8/10/2010) either directly or indirectly on the subject matter with respect to the plaintiff in any manner whatsoever".

The portal had challenged the injunction contending that it was an unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of the press, and that there was nothing defamatory about the original article which was based entirely on public records and information provided by Jay Shah.

The court has now lifted all the restrictions except the use of words (after) "Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister/elected as Prime Minister".

In a press release on Saturday, 'The Wire' stated that after the latest order of the court, it is now "free to report and write on any and every aspect of Jay Shah's business and public activities including the original story".

Jay Shah's advocates had submitted to the court that they were not asking for the original story to be taken down at this stage but only wanted no further discussion on the subject matter. However, the civil court has not granted this any longer. Shah's counsel sought an extension of one more month of the original injunction until they moved a higher court.

While the civil court was willing to grant them 15 days, 'The Wire' opposed any more extension of even a day.

The press release from the web portal stated, "Today's decision by the civil court is a vindication of The Wire's fundamental stand that its article 'The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah' was a legitimate exercise of the freedom of expression in the public interest."

Sikh Community

Congress MPs from Punjab raises issue of forced converstion of Sikhs in Pakistan with Sushma

December 21, 2017 04:41 PM

CHANDIGARH: A delegation of Congress Members of Parliament from Punjab led by Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee President and MP from Gurdaspur Mr. Sunil Jakhar today raised the issue of forced conversion of Sikhs in Pakistan with Mrs Sushma Swaraj Minister of External Affairs (MoEA). Delegation members including Mr Jakhar and MP Mr Ravneet Singh Bittu said that they were seriously concerned about the forced conversion of Sikhs in Pakistan and solicited Ministry’s urgent intervention in the matter to protect the identity of the Sikh community settled there.

Jakhar said that, after Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh raised the issue, MoEA has already directed the Indian High Commission in Pakistan to take it up at the highest level with Islamabad. “However, we believe the matter to be extremely grave, therefore, it should be taken up personally with the Pakistani authorities without delay by Minister herself,” he added.

He said that media reports suggest that a government official is involved in spearheading the conversion campaign in Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. “In such circumstances, there is the dire need for the Indian government to engage directly with the government in Pakistan instead of routing it through the Indian High Commission,” he added.

Jakhar said that unless immediately nipped it in the bud, the alleged forced conversions have the potential of escalating out of control, which would have a disastrous effect on the future of the Sikhs settled in the neighboring country. He further said that in the long run, it could lead to total annihilation of the Sikh identity in Pakistan, which could also trigger a cascading impact on Sikhs living in other parts of the world.

Delegation asked MoEA to intercede on a personal basis and pressurize the government in Islamabad to take strong steps to put an immediate stop on the conversions, and provide all necessary protection to the Sikh community to protect them from any such victimization or harassment in the future.

Telecom Sector

Vodafone invsted Rs.450 crores to strengthen Rs.450 crores in Punjab

December 21, 2017 04:36 PM

CHANDIGARH: Ensuring that more and more residents of Punjab enjoy confident connectivity and internet speed this New Year’s Eve, Vodafone India has invested Rs 450+ crore over the past one year to expand and strengthen its network in the state.

Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G now covers 600+ towns in Punjab, with over 550 towns being added over the past 3 months alone. Some of the new towns under Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G network include Kapurthala, Malerkotla, Jalalabad, Nabha, Sirhind Fatehgarh Sahib, Muktsar, Jagraon, Fazilka, Sunam and Tarn Taran, to name a few. Thanks to the addition of 4600+ sites over the past year, large part of population in Punjab is experiencing Vodafone SuperNetTM.

Inviting the residents of Punjab to join the Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G family and experience the reliability and speed of Vodafone’s Data Strong network, Arvind Nevatia, Business Head – Punjab, HP and J&K, Vodafone India, said, “We have seen a rapid rise in data usage in urban and rural Punjab. Our expansion overdrive is in sync with the growing data-related requirements of Punjab. As part of our expansion overdrive, we have rolled out 4600+ sites (3G/4G combined) in the last few months, to offer an unmatched quality of network. To highlight the Data Strong promise of our network for the residents of Punjab, we have conducted a data speed testing campaign in the state with the speed tests confirming the superiority of the network quality and superfast speeds of Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G. This enables our valued customers to stay confidently connected at all times and enjoy the multiple benefits of mobile internet, with speed and efficacy. Vodafone wishes all the residents of Punjab a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G service is built on the efficient 1800 MHz band with a strong fibre backhaul and a new and modern network, enabling Vodafone to offer in Punjab 3G/4G services on its own state-of-the-art convergent radio technology. The state-of-the-art 4G LTE network offers high speed a seamless mobile internet experience across a range of 4G enabled smart devices, including Mi-Fi & dongles. Vodafone SuperNetTM 4G enhances the experience of music, videos, chats, mobile gaming and two-way video calling with faster response time.

Music and Song

Kangana to host Christmas party for underprivileged kids

Kangna Ranaut
December 21, 2017 04:26 PM

MUMBAI: National Award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut is planning to enjoy Christmas on December 25 with a group of underprivileged children.

At a suburban restaurant, Kangana will have brunch with over 100 children of the Smile Foundation and will support the initiative QaukerFeedAChild, read a statement from her spokesperson.

On the work front, the actress, who got injured during the shooting of her ambitious project "Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi", will resume shooting from Saturday.

Apart from taking the day off on Christmas, she will shoot till December 31.

Punjab Crime

Nabha jailbreak mastermind arrested from IGI airport

File Photo-Nabha jail
December 20, 2017 09:50 PM

CHANDIGARH: Inderjit Singh Sandhu, one of the masterminds of the sensational Nabha jailbreak in Punjab, has been arrested from the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, Punjab Police said on Wednesday.

Sandhu, against whom a lookout notice was issued by the Punjab Police, was detained by immigration authorities after it was found that he had travelled from Jordon to New Delhi on a fake passport.

The accused was arrested by Punjab Police on Monday night and brought to the state for questioning. He was remanded in three days police custody on Wednesday.

Sandhu, an alleged accomplice of fugitive gangster Vicky Gonder, was accused of providing logistics, funds and safehouses for the five prisoners and conspirators who escaped from the maximum security prison in Nabha town, 90 km from here, on November 27 last year.

Police said Sandhu faces other criminal cases in Punjab as well.

Besides Media Advisor to CM, Raveen Thukral, Principal Secretary Health Anjali Bhawra, Commissioner-Food and Drug Administration Varun Roojam and Nodal Officer (Food) Dr. Amritpal Warring, along with other senior officers of Health & Family Welfare, Department were also present.

Punjab Government

Punjab CM launches mobile APP and web portal to check unauthorised construction

December 20, 2017 09:27 PM

CHANDIGARH: In two path-breaking initiatives, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday launched a unique mobile App to check unauthorized construction, and also unveiled a new web portal of the housing department for issuance of electronic change of land use (E-CLU).

While the App will enable quick action to stop any ongoing illegal construction, the web portal ( will facilitate easy land use change and also help citizens track any such change, as part of Captain Amarinder Singh’s focus on bringing greater transparency and accountability in the system.

Already being used as a pilot project by the department in the districts of Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar, the android-based App, known as PUDA-UCIC (Unauthorised constructions and illegal colonies), has been opened for public use today in GMADA region.

The App, which is open to citizens, would have to be installed in their mobile phones. With this App, the field staff and public would be able to click pictures of any unauthorized construction from the spot and upload them for further action.

The satellite and geo tagging based App will provide the unique details of the location, such as khasra no., mustil no., land use etc., thus enabling the officials to take quick action to stop the ongoing illegal construction and illegal colonies on the land. Besides, details pertaining to the location viz. longitude, latitude, real time and date will also be recorded.

Giving details of its operating system, an official spokesperson said complaints would automatically be assigned to concerned officials based on GIS maps and GPS locations, and alerts would go out to the concerned officials by SMS and email. Further, the system is designed to send regular updates to citizens and concerned officials, while the Administration can view reports with pictures and satellite imagery.

The concerned officer will then upload his remarks in the App and the information will be immediately sent to the District Town Planner and the Chief Administrator concerned in the form of an e-mail. Thereafter, immediate action would be initiated by the regulatory wing to stop the illegal construction.

Besides keeping track of unauthorized constructions and development of illegal colonies, the App would also enable the field staff to mark their attendance while they are at site. This would ensure that work is not hampered because of the compulsion to the technical field employees to come to the office only for the sake of marking attendance, and will also put the field employees also at ease.

Housing and urban development department has also pioneered a web portal under ease of doing business where in developer shall be able to get change of land use through online portal itself without having to visit the office. The provisional CLU shall be available instantly to the developer after self certification of the details of his land and the final CLU shall be made available within 30days after back end checking of documents about the land by the department. All this process has been made transparent and the developer shall be informed through SMS and email at every stage of its official clearance. E-CLU shall ease out the developer in getting clearance and streamline the whole process in the department. As a pilot project this has been launched for Lalru master plan and shall shortly be available for all the other master plan towns.

Chandigarh News

Prem Garg is appointed Chandigarh AAP unit convener, Meena Sharma Co-convener

December 19, 2017 07:40 PM

CHANDIGARH: Aam Aadmi Party on tuesday announced the office bearers for it Chandigarh (UT) state unit. In a press release issued by party, Chandigarh observer and Member National executive Harjot Singh Bains said that the appointments are done on the basis of work done by the voluteers to uplift the party in the past years. He said that party will now start perparing for general elections due in 2019 and reach the grassroot level workers to engage them for the purpose.

List of the office bearers is attached below-:

1.Prem Garg - Convenor
2. Meena Sharma - Co Convenor
3. H K Arora - Sect.
4. Naresh Garg Bobby - Gen Sect.
5. Vijay Pal Singh - Gen Sect.
6. P P Ghai - Gen. Sect.
7. Nazar Singh Dhaliwal - Gen. Sect.
8. Satish Machal - Gen Sect.
9. Vikram Pundir - Org. Sect
10. Kaushal Singh - Jt. Sect.
11. Yogesh Soni- Jt. Sect.
12. Shishu Paul - Jt. Sect.
13. Kalana Das - Jt. Sect.
14. Laddi Pannu - Jt. Sect.
15. Sandeep - Jt. Sect
16. Prof.Gurdev Singh - Exe. Member
17. Nikita Pandit Exe. Member
18. Roseleen - Exe. Member
19. Malkit Singh - Exe. Member
20. Kanta Dhamija - Exe. Member
21.Prince Juneja - Exe. Member
22. Satnam Singh - Exe. Member
23. Gurdeep Singh - Exe. Member
24. Ravi Mani - Exe. Member
25. Aarti Sharma - Exe. Member

Indian Politics

BJP ousts Congress in Himachal Pradesh

December 18, 2017 07:25 PM

SHIMLA: The BJP was set on Monday to wrest power in Himachal Pradesh from the Congress, winning 19 seats and leading in 25 in hard fought Assembly elections, although its two top leaders were worsted in the contest.

Needing 35 seats to control the 68-member House, the Bharatiya Janata Party was on course to win 44 the Congress had bagged 11 seats and led in 10 others. An Independent and the CPI-M got one seat each.

The Congress accepted defeat in Himachal Pradesh, which went to the polls on November 9. Among its prominent winners were outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh (Arki) and his son Vikramaditya Singh (Shimla Rural), who entered the Assembly for the first time.

State BJP chief Satpal Satti was humiliated in Una by Satpal Singh Razda of Congress while the BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost in Sujanpur.

Dhumal's confidants Ravinder Ravi, Gulab Singh and Randhir Sharma, all outgoing legislators, also lost.

Congress cabinet ministers Sudhir Sharma, Thakur Singh and Prakash Chaudhary faced defeat.

Chaudhary lost in Balh in Mandi district to BJP's Inder Singh Gandhi. BJP's Ravindra Dhiman defeated Congress' outgoing legislator Yadvinder Goma in Jaisinghpur and Kishori Lal of the BJP overcame Bansi Lal of the Congress from Anni.

BJP's Suresh Bhardwaj retained his Shimla seat, defeating Harbhajan Bhajji of the Congress.

Anil Sharma, who resigned from the government and the ruling Congress and joined the BJP just before the polls along with his father and former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram, retained his Mandi seat.

Independent Hoshiar Singh dealt a humiliating defeat to heavyweights Ravinder Ravi (BJP) and Viplove Thakur (Congress) in Dehra.

Outgoing legislator Anirudh Singh of the Congress retained his Kasumpti seat by defeating BJP's Vijay Jyoti Sain. Both belong to the royal families.

CPI-M's Rakesh Singha defeated both the BJP and Congress in Theog.

BJP spokesperson Ganesh Dutt told IANS: "We have crossed the half-way mark. This clearly shows we are going to form the government in the state."

A total of 337 candidates contested the election. A total of 37,83,580 people voted in the hill state -- a record 75.28 per cent polling.

The Congress and the BJP contested in all the 68 constituencies. Most exit polls had predicted the BJP's return to power with an easy majority.

The state has alternately elected Congress and BJP since 1985. In 2012, the Congress won 36 seats and the BJP 26. Independents bagged six seats.



Aadhaar, PAN to be linked to insurance policies by Mar 31, 2018

December 18, 2017 04:27 PM

CHENNAI: India's insurance regulator on Monday extended the time to link Aadhaar number to insurance policies till March 31, 2018.

In a circular issued on Monday to all the life, non-life (including standalone health insurers) the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) said the date of submission of the Aadhaar Number and Permanent Account Number or Form 60 by clients to reporting entity is March 31, 2018.

The Irdai cited the central government's gazette notification on December 13, relating to Prevention of Money-Laundering (Maintenance of Records) (Seventh Amendment) Rules, 2017.

On November 8, the Irdai had directed the insurers to link Aadhaar and Pan Card numbers with insurance policies.

"These rules have statutory force and, as such, life and general insurers (including standalone health insurers) have to implement them without awaiting further instructions," the Irdai had said in a statement.


BJP poised to take power in Himachal

December 18, 2017 03:39 PM

SHIMLA: The BJP was set to wrest power in Himachal Pradesh with its candidates on a victory lap in 36 of the 68 seats in the Assembly elections on Monday. The party has won four of the seven declared seats as counting of ballots progressed.

The ruling Congress managed to won only one seat, while one each went to an Independent and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPIM).

The saffron party won its first seat by defeating Congress cabinet Minister Prakash Chaudhary from Balh in Mandi district with a big margin. BJP's Inder Singh Gandhi won this seat.

Likewise, BJP's Ravindra Dhiman defeated Congress' sitting legislator Yadvinder Goma from Jaisinghpur, Kishori Lal of the BJP defeated Bansi Lal of the Congress from the Anni seat.

BJP's sitting legislator Suresh Bhardwaj retained his Shimla seat. He defeated Congress' Harbhajan Bhajji.

BJP and Congress veterans Ravinder Ravi and Viplove Thakur, respectively, faced humiliating defeat from Independent Hoshiar Singh from Dehra.

Congress' sitting legislator Anirudh Singh retained his Kasumpti seat by defeating BJP's Vijay Jyoti Sain. Both belong to the royal families.

CPI-M's Rakesh Singha defeated his near rival Rakesh Verma of the BJP from Theog.

Trends from the other counting centres across the hill state showed the Congress was ahead in 20 constituencies, while the BJP was leading in 40 seats and smaller parties and independents had inched ahead in all others seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party needs 35 seats to control the Himachal Assembly.

State BJP spokesperson Ganesh Dutt told IANS: "We have crossed the half-way mark. This clearly indicates we are going to form the government in the state."

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh (Arki) and his son Vikramaditya Singh (Shimla Rural) were, however, ahead of their BJP rivals.

State BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti trailed behind the Congress from Una seat.

However, BJP Chief Ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was trailing in the first four rounds, is now leading his close rival Rajinder Rana of the Congress.

A total of 337 candidates contested the November 9 election. A total of 37,83,580 people voted in the hill state -- a record 75.28 per cent polling.

The Congress and the BJP contested in all the 68 constituencies. Most exit polls had predicted the BJP's return to power with a majority.

The state has alternately elected Congress and BJP since 1985. In 2012, the Congress won 36 seats and the BJP 26. Independents bagged six seats.


BJP set to retain power in Gujarat

December 18, 2017 03:37 PM

GANDHINAGAR: The ruling BJP was on Monday set to retain power in Gujarat, with its candidates on the victory lap in 104 of the 182 seats as the Congress again settled for the second place but with an improved showing.

After surprisingly leading over the Bharatiya Janata Party at one point and sending the stock market crashing, the Congress began to trail to the BJP again. Election Commission officials said the Congress was expected to grab 75 seats.

The BJP won 115 seats and the Congress 61 in 2012.

BJP supporters began celebrating in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar even though some of its leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel (Mehsana), were trailing to the Congress as officials counted the millions of votes polled on December 9 and 14.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani too trailed at one time in Rajkot West but managed to reverse the situation after a while and ultimately won, the officials said.

Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, with Congress backing, was leading by 6,900 votes.

As the BJP crossed the half-way mark of 92, the BJP heaved a sigh of relief. But the trends were very different from the exit poll predictions of a sweeping win for the BJP.

BJP President Amit Shah had repeatedly claimed that his party would bag 150 seats.

As overjoyed Congress activists, expecting a victory, began celebrating early in the day, the stock markets took a beating. But the Congress celebrations were shortlived -- and the stock markets made a quick recovery.

Modi, who had been the Gujarat Chief Minister from 2001 until he became the Prime Minister in 2014, flashed a V sign outside Parliament. Modi was the main campaigner for the BJP in Gujarat, his home state.

"We will form a government both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in New Delhi.

Before the BJP crossed the half-way mark, Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza had said her party was equally confident of coming to power in Gujarat, saying people were "sick and tired of the 22 years of BJP misrule".

The BJP's better showing came from South Gujarat, Central Gujarat and North Gujarat. The Congress led in 33 seats in Saurashtra region compared to the BJP's 20.

The BJP was ahead in 26 seats (Congress 9) in South Gujarat. In Central Gujarat, BJP nominees had forged ahead in 27 constituencies (Congress 12) and in 31 seats in North Gujarat (Congress 21).

It was the first Assembly election in Gujarat after Modi became the Prime Minister.

Punjab Politics

Congress sweeps Punjab municipal polls; opposition cries foul

December 18, 2017 08:13 AM

CHANDIGARH: Punjab's ruling Congress swept the municipal elections in the state on Sunday even as the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP alleged booth capturing and misuse of power.

The Congress won 58 wards in the Patiala municipal corporation, while the opposition failed to open its account.

In Jalandhar, the Congress won 66 wards while the Akali Dal-BJP won 12. In Amritsar, the Congress won 69 wards while the Akali Dal-BJP combine won 12.

Voting was held on Sunday for three municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala, and 29 municipal councils and Nagar Panchayats.

Minor clashes between Akali Dal-BJP workers and those from the Congress were reported in Patiala city and a few other places.

In Patiala, the hometown of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, police had to resort to a baton charge to disperse activists of both sides as the situation turned violent.

The Akali Dal demanded immediate countermanding of the elections, citing gross poll code violations in all wards.

It demanded a high level inquiry into violence and rigging done by Congressmen and registration of cases against civil and police officials, whom it accused of acting like Congress agents.

Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the State Election Commission (SEC) of "becoming party to the Congress conspiracy to defeat the voice of the people in the civic body elections".

"We will approach the high court and expose the conspiracy of the SEC, the ruling Congress and police officers," he said after the results came out.

"The party would also demand the immediate dismissal of State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu for becoming a Congress stooge and lowering the dignity of the high office held by him. If he has any self-respect he should resign immediately as he has betrayed the faith of the people who have high respect for the office of the Election Commissioner and don't expect such partisan behavior from him," Badal said.

"The SEC acted in a biased manner from the beginning. Akali delegations met him five times. He did not even give justice once. We protested against late receipt of voter lists and denial of no objection certificates to SAD-BJP candidates. He did not act on this complaint. The SEC failed to act even when officials refused to receive nomination papers of Akali candidates," he added.

Amarinder Singh hailed the poll results as a "clear vindication of the Congress policies and a resounding defeat of the opposition's deceitful propaganda". "I congratulate the people of Punjab for not succumbing to the pressure tactics of the opposition," he said in a statement on Sunday.

Akali Dal and BJP leaders held a protest outside the office of the state election commission in Chandigarh on Sunday afternoon alleging rigging by the ruling Congress.

"We have not seen such murder of democracy as what happened today," Akali Dal leader and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema told media there.

The main contest was among the Congress, main opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance. Local issues of towns and cities and the respective wards had dominated the campaigning for the municipal elections.

The election for the municipal corporation of Punjab's largest city, Ludhiana, was not being held as the electoral rolls were not updated.

This is the first big election in the state after the Congress government, led by Amarinder Singh, came to power after the assembly polls in March.



Punjab Politics

SAD president Sukhbir Badal says State Election Commission has become party to the Cong

Sukhbir Badal
December 17, 2017 07:49 PM

CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today said the State Election Commission (SEC) had become party to the Congress conspiracy to defeat the voice of the people in the civic body elections and that the SAD would approach the high court and demand a CBI inquiry to uncover this sinister plot.

In a statement here, the SAD president said the party would also demand the immediate dismissal of State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu for becoming a Congress stooge and lowering the dignity of the high office held by him. “If he has any self respect he should resign immediately as he has betrayed the faith of the people who have high respect for the office of the Election Commissioner and don’t expect such partisan behavior from him”, Mr Badal added.

Giving details, the SAD president said from the very beginning the SEC had acted in a biased manner. “Akali delegations met him five times. He did not even give justice once. We protested against late receipt of voter lists and denial of no objection certificates to SAD-BJP candidates. He did not act on this complaint. The SEC failed to act even when officials refused to receive nomination papers of Akali candidates. He did not take any concrete action when Akali leaders were attacked and fired upon at Manawala in Ferozepur and false cases were registered against them. He also turned a blind eye to incidents of violence at Baghapurana and Ghanaur despite being given photographic and videographic proof of the same. Now today he has refused to act when the law and order machinery is being used by Congressmen to attack Akali-BJP workers and indulge in large scale rigging across the State, especially so in Patiala, the home town of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. One person has been murdered in Ghagga. Several others have been injured. Even women and the media personnel have not been spared. What else does he need to act and ensure free and fair civic elections?” Mr Badal asked.

Stating that this was the first time in the history of the State that the SEC had become a party to encouraging goondaism by refusing to act on any complaint by the opposition, the SAD president said it was condemnable that the SEC allowed the police and civil administration to become a party to booth capturing and rigging of elections. “Mr Jagpal Sandhu has refused to take action against any civil or police official despite the fact that the SAD identified such black sheep and submitted their name to Mr Sandhu. In such circumstances it is clear that the people cannot expect any justice from him. We will petition the honourable high court that such a Commission, which is dancing to the tunes of the Congress government, is wound up in public interest”, he added.

Punjab Politics

SAD-BJP demands countermanding of civic polls in Patiala

SAD-BJP leaders addressing press conference
December 17, 2017 07:27 PM

CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today demanded immediate countermanding of the Patiala Corporation elections citing gross poll code violations in all wards of the city even as it demanded a high level inquiry into violence and rigging done by Congressmen and registration of cases against civil and police officials who acting like Congress agents.

A SAD-BJP delegation submitted a memorandum to State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu in this regard and also sat in a dharna outside his office when he failed to take any action even after photographic and vidoegraphic evidence of blatant rigging and violence in Patiala, the home town of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, as well as other parts of the State was brought to his notice.

Former minister Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, who led the SAD-BJP delegation, said the Congress had murdered democracy in the State by using the police force to commit atrocities on Akali-BJP cadre and the State Election Commission (SEC) had encouraged them by refusing to take any action against Congress goons as well as officers who were hand in glove with them. Castigating the SEC for failing to perform its duty, the Akali-BJP delegation said it seemed the SEC was under government pressure. It said even Observers had teamed up with the Congress party and failed to report incidents of violence and booth rigging. “This has vitiated the entire election process”, the delegation members including BJP Secretary Vineet Joshi said adding the party would now take recourse of democratic protest as well as legal remedy.

The SAD-BJP delegation said its apprehensions about incidents of repression and booth capturing during the local body polls came true today with Congressmen taking over booths across the State after attacking Akali-BJP workers with the assistance of the police force. They said even women and media persons were not spared and that transparent videography of the process as directed by the honorable high court had not been done.

Giving details of incidents where SAD-BJP candidates and their family members and supporters were attacked by the Congressmen, Dr Cheema said a number of such incidents occurred in Patiala where even former SAD Mayor Amarinder Singh Bajaj was manhandled. He said in Mullanpur Dakha a SAD candidate’s mother was attacked and injured by Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Congress leader Dr. Karan Waring. Similarly SAD polling agents were attacked by the Congressmen in Sahnewal who barged into their booths with a group of outsiders. In Ghanour when Akali-BJP supporters protested casting of fake votes they were thrashed by local mla Madan Lal Jalalpur’s son and his aides.

Dr Cheema said SAD candidates and polling agents were threatened by a police official in Rajasansi and a booth of SAD candidate in ward number 5 was removed forcefully. He said even cabinet minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot was seen indulging in poll code violation at Amloh.

The Akali leader said at Ghagga in Sangrur local police resorted to repressive acts by arresting SAD candidates Balwinder Singh and his wife Darshana Devi, both of whom were contesting from ward number 12 and 13 respectively and also detained BJP candidate Jarnail Singh. The Akali leader said when Akali leaders came to the aid of the beleaguered candidates they were beaten up by both Congressmen and police personnel which led to the death of Akali worker Mahinder Singh.

Demanding stern action against elected representatives and workers of the ruling Congress, the SAD sought countermanding of elections at all places where the gross poll code violations include booth capturing and poll violence were reported.

Sikhs Abroad

KP Singh honored with Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Butler University

December 17, 2017 10:14 AM

INDIANAPOLIS: Butler University today conferred Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causato a native of India and prominent and popular Indianapolis community leader  Kanwal Prakash Singh and Civic Leader Kathleen D Postlethwait MS '74 at Winter Commencement  at Clowes Memorial Hall here on Saturday. President (Retired) of Neuroscience Product Group Eli Lilly and Company Robert N Postlethwait  was conferred Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
During the well-planned an impressive graduation ceremony, degrees were also conferred on Dr Jay R Howard (Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), Dr Ena Shelley (Dean of the College of Education), Dr Stephen Standifird (Dean of the Lacy School of Business), Dr Robert Soltis '87 (Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), Dr Lisa Brooks (Dean of the Jordan College of the Arts) and Dr J ay R Howard (Acting Dean of the College of Communication.
Degress in Master of Fine Arts, Associate in Arts, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration, Doctor of Pharmacy, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and Master of Music.
Butler University President James M Danko congratulated each one of "our accompalished graduates. "I commend you for the hard work, dedicatioin and perseverance that have brought you here today. We are proud of you, we are greatful to have had you as members of our campus community. All of you --through your unique talents and strength -- have made Buutler a better placce.... As new alumni, you personify the Butler spirit of achievement, and it speaks volumes about the oustanding people you are and great things you will do."
Indian born KP Singh (for his wife Janice, KP stand for Kind Person) was the Keynote Speaker.. Speaking on the occasion Mr Singh, a renowned artist, said “My last 52 years in the United States and 50 years in Indiana have been an unforgettable blessing.”  
“Culture reflects our innermost essence and sacred identity. It is important to know about people’s ethnic origins, family legacy, and national heritage. According to DNA, we are connected with cultures in faraway lands; and as neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens in profound and significant ways. We welcome and celebrate the cultures represented at this Graduation Ceremony.”
“Butler University President James Danko and the Board of Trustees have conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on me at this occasion. I pray to be worthy of this high honor. I appreciate being invited to be the Keynote Speaker on this important day in your lives - for you and your families.” 
At Butler, you received world-class education. The beautiful urban campus environment at Butler provided you close encounters with brilliant educators, successful mentors, friends from across the United States and other countries.”   
One of the special places to work in Indiana will always be Butler University. Butler gave you the academic foundation and all-important challenge to excel and be the best. Renew your acquaintance with your Alma Mater and return often. Congratulations, God Speed, and Butler!!!

Sikhs Abroad

Sikh Religious Society Partners with North West Suburbs Organizing For Action (NWSOFA) to remember Sandy Hook School Shooting Victims

December 17, 2017 08:00 AM

PALATINE: In remembrance of the 20 elementary school children and 6 teachers killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine, Illinois, (a suburb of Chicago) in partnership with a local community organization "North West Suburbs Organizing For Action" (NWSOFA) organized an interfaith prayer service and candlelight vigil.

 The event was a part of nationwide Vigils and Events to #EndGunViolence. This was the 5th anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting and 150,000 people have been killed by gun violence since this tragedy.

About 100 members of various faith groups and local leaders surrounded by people of good will gathered at the Sikh Gurdwara to pray and honor the victims of this horrific tragedy where twenty 6 to 7 years old children along with six teachers trying to shield and protect little children were massacred by a gunman inside the elementary school.

The vigil started indoors with Kirtan (singing of Sikh hymns) in the langar hall of the Palatine Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship). The hymns translated in English meant, "O' Lord of this universe, please nourish and take care of all the people of your Creation with your blessings and mercy."

Eight speakers, representing the Sikh, Muslim, Bahai, Christian, Jewish, gun violence prevention communities, and civil action oriented organizations addressed the gathering. The speakers shared their personal stories, faith perspectives of hope and peace, and emphasized solidarity and strength in opposing gun violence where innocent lives are lost. They reminded the audience that gun violence impacts every community and all religions, races and ages.

Mrs. Surinder Kaur Singh of Sikh religious Society opened the program and welcomed the guests. Laddi Singh recognized elected officials including IL State Senator Tom Rooney, and participating non-profit organizations.

"We must create an America free from senseless Gun Violence where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, at their places of worship, on the street and in the shopping malls," said Rajinder Singh Mago, the co-coordinator of the event who introduced the interfaith speakers.

Professor Kulwant Singh Hundal, past president of Sikh Religious Society, Palatine; Mr. Raja-ullah Quaraishi of Muslim community; Rabbi Stephen Hart of Temple Chai, Long Grove, IL; Ms. Gurleen Kaur Singh a High School student; Pastor Melissa Earley of First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, IL; Patrick Watson representing NWSOFA; Maria Pike, #Everytown Fellow and Survivor Engagement Lead, IL; Mrs. Surinder Kaur Singh, a social worker; Brently Donaldson, a Bahai; and Asayo Horbe, a Buddhist spoke at the event.

Patrick Watson read a pledge and call to action to educate legislators to work on stricter gun laws to end senseless gun violence.

Reading of the 26 victims names by Kimberley Garnett and Prempal Singh preceded lighting of candles and a moment of silence to honor the victims.

Matt Flamm of Palatine Township representing NWSOFA, thanked all the guests, participants and the organizers.

All the participants of the event were invited to partake "langar" the community kitchen vegetarian meal.

The event in partnership with NWSOFA, was coordinated by Rajinder Singh Mago, Laddi Singh, Dr. Balwant Singh Hansra, Prempal Singh, Sarwan Singh Raju, Jasvir Kaur Singh, Iqbal Singh Chopra, and Surinderpal Singh Kalra, for the Sikh Religious Society, Palatine Illinois.

Indian Politics

Sonia tells party workers to introspect, be ready for sacrifices

Sonia Gandhi
December 17, 2017 07:57 AM

NEW DELHI: Sonia Gandhi, who on Saturday retired as Congress chief - a position she had held since 1998, said the party must "look within" to fight the forces that attack the fundamentals of the Constitution and also be ready to make any sacrifice.

"Since 2014, we have been playing the part of the opposition. Never before have we faced the challenge that we face today. The fundamentals of our Constitution are under attack. Our party has lost several state elections.

"But an exemplary energy fires our Congress workers. We are not ones to bend in fear, because our struggle is a fight for the very soul of this nation. We will never retreat from this fight."

She said the leaders and workers of the Congress, as the custodians of the ideals and principles of the nation, had a challenge to meet -- to safeguard "our fundamental principles" of India.

"This is no small matter. It is not power, wealth or self-importance that is our aim, it is this country - it is safeguarding our fundamental principles. We are all witness to the daily attacks against freedom of speech and expression, against our culture of diversity, and its replacement with an atmosphere of suspicion and fear.

"The Congress must look within in order to forge ahead. If we do not stand by our principles, we will not be able to wage this fight. It is a battle of righteousness, and we must fit ourselves in, in order to attain success," said Gandhi.

"It is a moral battle, we have to be ready to fight these forces and to make any sacrifice."

Sonia Gandhi on Saturday handed over the charge of party president to her son Rahul Gandhi.

Copyright © 2017, Punjab Newsline, All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy