The Tribune – Eying revenue, Cabinet bets on online lottery; Sukhbir promoting gambling by bringing in casino culture, says Bajwa

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28. Cash-strapped Punjab Government today decided to bet on online lottery to boost its revenue with the state Cabinet giving its approval to recommence the online lottery system.

The online lottery system was initiated in the state in 2002 but was discontinued after a few years. Now it is set to start again with a few cosmetic changes. Sources said under the new system, the results would be released in four digits. While three digits would be the same, the final digit would count when prizes were given, they said.

This is the same as the single-digit lottery system, which has been criticised and even banned in some states for ruining thousands of people, said Lokesh Arora, a lottery agent of Rajpura who at one time operated 108 computers to run online lotteries.

An official release said the Cabinet had approved the online lottery system to increase the revenue of the state. It said the system would be organised, conducted, operated and regulated under the provisions of the Lottery Regulation Act, 1998 and the Punjab State Lotteries Rules, 1998.

The new system is envisaged to offer lottery games played through a network of computer terminals as approved by the government. The terminals will be installed at retail locations and will be connected to a data hub at a central headquarter. For this purpose, the government will appoint a distributor to design, procure, install, operate and maintain the system.

The selection of the distributor will be done through tenders and a monitoring committee.

Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa said the on-line lottery system had been banned during the Congress regime in the state considering its social implications. He said past experience had proven that retailers approved by the state government for online lottery ran parallel “satta” centres.

He claimed that Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was promoting gambling and trying to bring casino culture to the state by earmarking a piece of land near Ludhiana.

To read more :

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130529/punjab.htm#1

The Tribune – Save Bhullar, Takht chief urges Badal Government

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 27. Akal Takht chief, Giani Gurbachan Singh, today asked the state government and the SGPC to step up efforts to save Devinderpal Singh Bhullar from the gallows because of his medical condition.

A medical report by a committee set up by the Central Government has said that Bhullar is suffering from severe depression with psychotic symptoms and suicidal tendencies. The jathedar said the government should hand over the medical report to the President so that Bhullar’s mercy petition is accepted.

He said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal should approach the Central Government on the matter.

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The Tribune – SAD to meet President on Sajjan’s acquittal today

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 7. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal today said they would impress upon President Pranab Mukherjee to form a special investigation team (SIT) to re-investigate the role of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, acquitted recently in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Badal would be leading a delegation of SAD-BJP coalition MLAs and MPs to meet the President in Delhi tomorrow.

“Surely someone was behind the attack that killed over 3,000 Sikhs in the capital. For, Delhi was not hit by any calamity,” Sukhbir said in a sarcastic remark targeted at the Congress.

“Nevertheless, we will fight for justice till it is done. We will seek the President’s intervention for forming a SIT under the supervision of the Chief Justice of India,” he said. The Deputy Chief Minister was here to attend the 290th birth anniversary function of Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. While paying tributes to the legendary warrior, he assured the Ramgarhia community that the government was committed for its
welfare.

“We should propagate the legacy of Ramgarhia who fought the Mughals valiantly to safeguard the moral and ethical values of humanity based on the tenets of Sikhism,” he said.

Hitting out at the UPA government, he alleged that in the country’s history never had the central cabinet comprised so many “tainted” ministers.

Sukhbir also dared the Congress leadership to put up a fight so that it was not against a “one-sided affair in the zila parishad and block samiti elections”.

“In fact, it will be a litmus test for (Punjab Congress chief) Partap Bajwa and test his political acumen and popularity at the grassroots level,” he said.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130508/punjab.htm#3

The Tribune – Golden Temple plaza by year-end; Bajwa not a new challenge: Sukhbir

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 10. The construction work on the prestigious Golden Temple entrance plaza would be completed by the end of this year, said Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister, here today. accompanied by his wife, Bathinda Member of Parliament Harsimrat Kaur, he was here to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple.

“Within a few months, the finishing touches will be given to the project. This unique project will put the holy city on the international tourist circuit and prove to be a boon for thousands of tourists from across the world. The plaza would have an audio-video information system depicting the Sikh history and heritage besides a number of world-class auditoriums,” he said.

To a query, Sukhbir said he had directed the authorities concerned to further accelerate work on the plaza to ensure that there were no delays. He said the government was working on two master plans to make Amritsar one of the beautiful cities in the country.

Sukhbir said the Congress’ change of guard would have no impact on the SAD whatsoever as the party did not consider Partap Singh Bajwa as a “new challenge”. The SAD would continue to follow the development agenda besides formulating “pro-poor, pro-people and pro-Punjab policies.”

Congratulating Bajwa on his elevation as Pradesh Congress chief, Sukhbir invited him to contribute to the state’s development by playing a “constructive role”. To a query, he said the coming Budget would be ‘pro-people” and in the interest of the people as the ruling alliance was committed to overall development.

On the Tarn Taran assault case, the Deputy CM said strict action would be taken against policemen if found guilty. He also said that the government would show “zero tolerance” to criminals targeting women.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130311/punjab.htm#9

The Tribune – Moga bypoll; At Moga, Amarinder forced to toil hard; SAD president Sukhbir Badal also clocks 18 hours a day, addressing at least 20 functions

Jangveer Singh, Tribune News Service

Moga, February 20. The Moga byelection will be remembered for the start of a new political experiment in Punjab.

The election was thrust upon the people by the SAD by inducting Congress legislator Joginder Pal Jain into the party.

If the purpose was to further demoralise the Congress, it has not worked. In fact, the election has helped the state Congress galvanise itself and even boosted the image of its president Captain Amarinder Singh who has transformed himself into a hard worker and washed off accusations of being an easygoing campaigner.

On the other hand, for SAD president Sukhbir Badal, who is known to be an aggressive campaigner adept at micro management, the election is an opportunity to prove that he can single-handedly dictate the politics of the state.

Sukhbir hopes a victory here will build the tempo for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

But political gambits are a risky affair. Captain Amarinder has now chosen to take the challenge head-on. The Congress had won this seat by 4,500 votes only a year ago and it feels this is the right opportunity to stop the Akali juggernaut.

Party election incharge Rana Gurjit Singh said: “We will win because for the first time Captain Amarinder is working hard. I don’t want to say this but this is the truth”.

Rana Gurmeet Sodhi said the byelection would be remembered for the manner in which Amarinder put his best foot forward to win back the voters’ confidence. Seeing the people’s reaction to the party’s campaign, general secretary incharge of Punjab Gulchain Singh Charakh admitted Amarinder remains the best bet to lead the Congress in the state.

Talwandi Sabo legislator Jeet Mohinder Sidhu, who drives Amarinder during the campaigning, echoed similar sentiments. He said after moving to the constituency on February 2, the PCC chief went out only for a day on February 9 to attend the wedding function of Amritsar leader Sukhjinder Randhawa’s daughter at Chandigarh. “Captain has been camping here since then. He even missed the wedding of his niece in Delhi,” he said.

Amarinder’s electioneering starts at 10.30 am with a break for lunch at a supporter’s house. Sidhu said Amarinder managed five rural and two urban meetings in a day which ended at around 8 pm. “After that we sit down and strategise”, he added.

On asking when he last worked so hard, Captain Amarinder said: “My job is to move around. I did so during the last assembly elections also. But the Akalis bought off our rebel leaders”. Amarinder feels his party is well beyond the winning stage. “As of today we have won,” he claimed.

In case of Sukhbir, the Moga election seems to be an experiment on how Congress strongholds can be broken. There is a feeling in the Sukhbir camp that Congress men who cannot be beaten should be co-opted into the SAD. The Moga byelection will decide whether this experiment can be replicated elsewhere or not.

Sukhbir is putting in even more time than Amarinder. The SAD president starts his day at 8 with a strategy session at the residence of senior Akali leader Tota Singh. At 11, Sukhbir is out in the field devoting most of the day in rural areas before converging into the city in the evening. After finishing electioneering at 10 pm, he takes feedback from party leaders coordinating different zones. “This meeting ends only by 2 am”, an aide disclosed.

The SAD chief claimed Amarinder’s schedule was no match for his. “I do 20 programmes in a day. He does four,” he said. He also claimed the Congress was still a divided house. Sukhbir said the main agenda of the SAD remained development.

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The Tribune – Moga bypoll; Lack of canal water major issue for farmers

Jangveer Singh, Tribune News Service

Moga, February 18. For farmers of Droli Bhai and Ghal Kalan villages, which are among the biggest in this constituency, the lack of canal water is the biggest issue.

Worst sufferers are the farmers whose land is situated at the tail-end of canals.

Seventy-year-old Sukhdev Singh’s farm house is located 50 m from the Kingwa distributary in Droli Bhai village. His seven-acre farm is situated alongside the water body. But this is not helping him in any way. Sometimes water does not even come up to the level of the outlet leading to his fields.

“It is a curse to have land at the tail-end of the canal system,” Sukhdev said, adding water courses were silted, choked with hyacinths and even broken at several places.

Farmers have to spend huge amounts to arrange alternative sources of water for irrigation. Most part of the constituency is in the “dark zone” where water table is alarmingly low. “We have to keep shifting our submersible motors deeper every year,” said Gulzar Singh of Ghal Kalan village, who has now installed his motor 140 ft below the ground which was at 70 ft 10 years ago.

Hamir Singh, another farmer, said power was available only during odd hours, which did not suit him as he grew potatoes and vegetables. “This season, I had to irrigate my potato crop with the help of a generator,” he said, adding: “Our land is very fertile. We have had bumper crops. But lack of canal water and depleting water table are indicating a bleak future ahead”.

Farmers of villages like Soslian, Bagelawala, Jhandiana and Daulatpura, too, have similar issues.

Meanwhile, the SAD has stepped in to take political advantage on this issue. Party president Sukhbir Badal has promised “as many crores as farmers of the constituency need to solve this problem”.

Sukhbir has roped in Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, who has earned the sobriquet of “Irrigation Doctor”, to campaign in most of the villages facing the shortage of water. “Vote for the SAD and see canal water flowing into your fields” is the party’s slogan.

Akali leader Nidharak Brar also urges voters to “weigh the benefits” of voting for the SAD. “This byelection has given us an opportunity to get all our demands accepted,” he says.

Though most farmers are angry at the neglect of their villages and feel their brethren in Muktsar and Gidderbaha are better off, they understand that the byelection has given them a chance to get their problem fixed. Many of them realise that the SAD-BJP government has four more years to go. “For many of us, it is now or never,” Paramjit Singh of Ghal Kalan said, adding he would support the SAD for this reason.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130219/punjab.htm#1

The Tribune – Moga By-Election

Captain: Bypoll result will silence ‘arrogant’ Sukhbir, Majithia

Tribune News Service

Moga, February 11. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Captain Amarinder Singh today claimed that the Moga residents will give a befitting reply to the “arrogant” duo of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal and his brother-in-law Bikram Majithia.

Addressing a public gathering at Charik village for Congress candidate Vijay Kumar Sathi, Amarinder said the Moga people will change the political scenario in Punjab by voting against the “anti-people” and “repressive” policies of the SAD-BJP government. The byelection is scheduled for February 23.

“Sukhbir and Majithia have spoiled the socio-economic balance of the otherwise prosperous Punjab for their personal interests,” he said.

Once defeated in the bypoll, the state Congress chief said, the downfall of the Akalis would automatically begin. “The greater impact will be witnessed in the next parliamentary elections when the SAD will be routed completely….

Byelections have usually been trendsetters. In Moga, the Congress will re-script the Adampur bypoll victory of 1998,” he said.

Amarinder also warned that the Akalis should not take it for granted that they would remain in power for the rest of their tenure. “Given the track record of the Akalis of poor governance and deteriorating law and order situation in the last six years, their government can fall any time,” he said.

Claiming that he had gauged the mood of the electorate during his stay in Moga for the past over a week, he said it was because of the “poor” state of affairs that the people were fed up with the government.

The PPCC president said the recent incidents of crime involving Akali leaders and workers had angered the state people and they wanted to teach the government a lesson.

Banking on his father Sathi Roop Lal’s legacy, Vijay Sathi said he had a “clean image and, therefore, was most suitable to be elected”.

Amarinder and Sathi also addressed gatherings at Malliana, Patti Sandhuan, Tarewala, Chupkiti and a few locations in Moga city.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130212/punjab.htm#4      

Several Congress leaders in line to join SAD: Sukhbir

Tribune News Service

Moga, February 11. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today claimed that more Congress leaders wanted to join the ruling party but “we will pick only diamonds from among the stones.”

Campaigning for party candidate Joginder Pal Jain at Sadda Singh Wala, Kahan Singh Wala, Thamanwala and Jhandewala villages, Badal claimed that the Congress was on the verge of extinction, not only in Punjab but on other parts of the country too.

He said the SAD would welcome only those leaders who believed in the SAD vision. The fact that more and more Congress leaders were joining the SAd was an indication of the confidence that the people have in the SAD-BJP alliance.

Criticising the Congress for its negative campaign, he said the Congress leadership was taking up non-issues as there were no real issues against the SAD-BJP government. He claimed that the SAD-BJP victories were nothing but the triumph of the pro-people policies of the the Parkash Singh Badal-led government.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130212/punjab.htm#5

Candidate Profile; PPP’s Ravinder Dhaliwal eyes youth vote bank

Kulwinder Sandhu, Tribune News Service

Moga, February 11. Contesting from Moga for the second time on the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) ticket, 44-year-old Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal is hopeful that he would be able to pocket the youth votes.

In last year’s assembly election, Dhaliwal had secured more than 9,800 votes. A graduate in veterinary science and a post-graduate in business management, his vote share was more than 7 per cent in 2012.

Prior to joining politics, Dhaliwal used to work as a manager in corporate communications with a multi-national food processing company. Currently, he is into real estate business.

PPP chief Manpreet Badal claims that Dhaliwal was influenced by the party’s ideology and, therefore, left his fat-salary job and jumped into the election fray.

Dhaliwal, along with Manpreet, has adopted the traditional style of campaigning in Moga city by going door to door. In villages, the duo also holds ‘nukkar sabhas’.

Claiming that he is getting “favourable” response from the electorate, the PPP nominee says the people are fed up with both the mainstream parties (the SAD and the Congress).

“The Moga voters, particularly the educated youth, are disappointed with turncoat Joginder Pal Jain who first represented the Congress and now is seeking re-election on the SAD ticket. As such, people are not interested in both the parties with which Jain is associated. They will vote for change,” he says.

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The Tribune – Sukhbir accepts Hooda’s offer of talks on water disputes

Tribune News Service

Moga, February 9. The Punjab Government has welcomed the initiative by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for exploring a political solution to the water disputes pending for decades between the two states.

Sukhbir said, “I welcome the initiative of the Haryana Government. We are ready to sit together and solve the issues pertaining to water disputes. However, he did not divulge any details.”

Hooda had expressed his desire to solve the water issues with Punjab at a function held in Gurgaon yesterday.

Disputes relating to the Hansi-Butana canal, Dashmesh canal, Sutlej-Yamuna link canal and channelisation of the Ghaggar have been pending between the two states for the past several decades.

The Congress government in Punjab headed by the then Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had, in 2004, annulled all water agreements between the two states by bringing in the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004.

It also resulted in termination of agreements related to the Ravi-Beas waters, which was signed by the chief ministers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan in 1981. Haryana has long been maintaining that due to this, the state was not getting its share of 3.5 MAF of water due to non-completion of construction work on Sutlej-Yamuna link canal.

There is another dispute between the two states on the construction of Hansi-Butana canal by the Haryana Government. The apex court has stayed the linking of this canal with the Bhakra Management Line (BML) on a case filed by the Punjab Government.

Punjab went to the apex court because Haryana had gone to the Central Water Commission against the proposed Dashmesh canal, which was also to be linked with the BML and was meant to irrigate thousands of acres of land in Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala districts.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130210/punjab.htm#1

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