BJP begins Vijay Sankalp Rath Yatra

By: Express News Service | Ludhiana | Published:December 30, 2016 5:50 am

punjab polls, punjab upcoming elections, Vijay Sankalp Rath Yatr, Vijay Sankalp, Punjab BJP Rath Yatra, Punjab BJP, Punjab BJP election campaign, indian express news Punjab BJP president addresses a gathering at Hussainiwala Thursday. Express

PUNJAB BJP president Vijay Sampla kick-started the party’s election campaign by launching the Vijay Sankalp Rath Yatra from Hussainiwala after paying tribute to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Rajguru and Shaheed Sukhdev. The yatra will cover different parts of the state before concluding in Amritsar on January 8 where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will be present, said Sampla. Addressing a gathering of party workers and supporters at the martyr’s memorial, Sampla, however, considered only Congress in competition with the alliance in Punjab and hence indicated that AAP was nowhere in competition.

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Supporting demonetisation, he said, “Under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, the country is fighting a battle for economic freedom. The Congress is a party which bred and nurtured English culture in the country. While the BJP is working to transform the nation into a soney ki chidia, the English Congress is trying hard to convert the country into Sonia Ki Chidia.”

Launching a scathing attack on PPCC chief, Captain Amarinder Singh, Sampla said, “He has no time to meet the people of his state but he does have ample time to meet his friends across the border.” Sampla also took a dig at AAP chief, Arvind Kejriwal, stating that he betrayed the people of Delhi and the voters of Punjab won’t fall into his trap. “The AAP claims to put an end to drugs in the state, but their MP Mann is doing it by drinking.”

From the Hussainiwala memorial, the Vijay Sankalp Rath Yatra proceeded towards Ferozepur accompanied by a cavalcade of motorcycles and cars. En route, Sampla, along with other party leaders, paid tribute to the freedom fighters at various memorials and garlanded the idols of Guru Ravidass Ji, Bhagwan Valmiki Ji and Bhagat Ramdev Ji.

State BJP organisational general secretary Dinesh Kumar, Cabinet Minister Surjeet Kumar Jiyani, poll manifesto committee chairman and former state president Kamal Sharma, former MLA Sukhpal Singh Nannu, state general secretary Manjit Singh Rai, state secretary Vineet Joshi, Ferozepur district president Davinder Bajaj, district general secretary Arun Pugal, BJYM state president Shivbir Rajan and secretary Amit Sampla were present during the yatra.

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Former PM Manmohan Singh to release Cong manifesto for Punjab polls

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Published:December 30, 2016 5:39 am

Punjab polls, Punjab elections, Manmohan Singh, Congress manifesto, Congress, Punjab Congress, Punjab Elections Manmohan Singh, Former Prime Minister, indian express newsFormer prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh is once again the flavour of the party for 2017 Assembly elections in Punjab. The party, hoping to wrest power in Punjab after remaining in opposition for last 10 years, is depending on Dr Singh’s advice to give final touches to party’s manifesto for Punjab elections. Not just that, the party would also utilise his Sikh face to release the manifesto.

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Dr Singh, who was referred to as a “Prime Minister who was soft on corrupt ministers” by none other than the Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh soon after party’s rout in 2014, had agreed to help the Punjab Congress manifesto committee jointly headed by former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal. Sources in Congress said it was Amarinder who personally roped in Dr Singh for his expertise on economics.

Though the date of release of the manifesto is yet to be finalised yet, a PPCC communique said Dr Singh had agreed to launch the document, defining the party’s blueprint for governance in Punjab, at a meeting with AICC in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari and Amarinder in Delhi on Thursday. Kumari and Amarinder discussed with Dr Manmohan Singh the key points in the manifesto, which will now be given the final shape by the PPCC manifesto committee. Kumari said it had been decided by the party to take Dr Singh’s views on the manifesto draft before releasing it given his expertise on economic issues.

“The Congress does not believe in taking arbitrary decisions, without understanding the nuances of the subject, and felt it was important to involve Dr Singh in the finalisation of the manifesto, given its impact on the people of Punjab,” said Kumari. Amarinder said, “Dr Singh gave his valuable inputs on the manifesto – a comprehensive document addressing issues relating to every section of Punjab’s society.”

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Breaking on Twitter: Won’t fight Punjab elections, Kejriwal tweets to Amarinder

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Published:December 30, 2016 5:12 am

Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab elections, Kejriwal twitter, Kejriwal tweets, Delhi CM, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab upcoming elections, indian express news AAP national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and other party leaders at a road show in Majitha Thursday. Express

PUTTING at rest speculation that he was eyeing the chief ministerial chair in Punjab, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal Thursday tweeted to Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, making it clear he would not contest the upcoming polls. In a face-off between the duo on Twitter that ensued after Amarinder dared Kejriwal to contest against him, the latter tweeted: “I m not fighting punjab elex. So, ur challenge hollow. We r fighting Badals/Majithia, who sunk Punjab in drugs. N u r fighting us, not them?” (sic)

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This is for the first time that Kejriwal has himself conveyed he would not contest the Punjab Assembly polls. Sources in AAP said the tweet was a well-thought-out response as the Delhi CM was not likely be the chief ministerial candidate as was being speculated. The AAP campaign in Punjab, however, centred around Kejriwal, who has been spending 10-15 days a month in Punjab for the past couple of months.

The party’s slogan for catching the attention of voters is “Kejriwal-Kejriwal sara Punjab tere naal (Kejriwal the entire Punjab is with you).” Sources said Kejriwal, whose team was earlier searching for a house for the Delhi CM in Punjab, had stopped the search as the plan was shelved. The party was forced to do a rethink after the

Delhi-based leaders in Punjab faced a revolt following the unceremonious exit of its state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur. The party leaders felt that a Sikh face was a major issue in Punjab, at least to provide a handle to opponents in the state. “We realised after Chhotepur’s exit that Punjab was a state, which was sensitive about its identity. Delhi leaders, who actually built up the organisational structure of AAP after working day in and day out, were branded as outsiders. It became a Punjabi versus outsider issue,” said a senior leader on anonymity.

He further stated that it was after the revolt that AAP decided against having a permanent residence for Kejriwal in the state. “He visits here, stays in circuit houses and puts up with volunteers but does not have a house, which could have given another issue to the opposition,” the leader added. war of tweets

The ‘duel’ had started on Wednesday after Amarinder alleged AAP’s nexus with Badals by calling party’s Lambi candidate Jarnail Singh a weak nominee. Amarinder had dared Kejriwal to lock horns with him. Kejriwal had responded: “So, u r fighting me, not Badals/drugs. Badals also say they will fight against me. U n Badals wish to fight agnst me not agnst each other.” Kejriwal in another tweet had said: “Sir, r u fighting against Prakash Badal ji or Sukhbir Badal or Majithia or safe seat?” (sic).

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Pune techie murder: Arrested youth remanded in police custody, search on for ‘killer’

By: Express News Service | Pune | Published:December 30, 2016 4:51 am

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A magistrate court on Thursday remanded a 24-year-old youth, arrested over the murder of software engineer Antara Debanand Das, in police custody for seven days for further investigation. The youth, Santoshkumar Akhileshvar Prasad Gupta, is from Bihar’s Bhojpur district and worked in an IT company in Bengaluru. Antara (23), an employee of Capgemini company in Talawade, was stabbed to death on Friday night while she was on her way home from work.

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A team from Pune Rural Police had picked up Gupta from Bengaluru for questioning and then formally arrested him on charges of murder at 11 pm on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Assistant Police Inspector A B Hodgar produced Gupta before Judicial Magistrate (first class) in the Wadgaon Maval court. Police told the court that after Antara turned down Gupta’s advances multiple times, the angry youth had hired a person to hill her.

The ‘killer’ allegedly stabbed Antara multiple times with a sharp weapon while she was walking through Kanbay Square, near her office in Talawade.

The local crime branch and personnel from the Dehu Road police station have started investigating the case. Initial investigation has revealed that Antara, who is from West Bengal, had visited Bengaluru in 2015 for advanced technical training in software engineering after. She had met Gupta in Bengaluru.

In April this year, Antara joined Capgemini in Pune, and started living as a paying guest in Nigdi Pradhikaran area. However, Gupta allegedly kept on harassing her and called her on her cell phone several times to propose to her. According to police, Antara tried to get rid of him by blocking his number on her cell phone, but Gupta continued to call her from other numbers. Antara had even told her family members about being harassed by Gupta, and they told police about it.

Gupta has been charged under sections 302, 120 (b), 23 of the Indian Penal Code. Police are looking into Gupta’s phone call details and also searching for his accomplice who, according to the accused, attacked and killed Antara as per his instructions. Police suspect that Gupta has stayed in Nigdi in the past, and are probing the matter further. Police have also detained a few other suspects for questioning.

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HC orders probe into J&K minister’s trust land

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu | Published:December 30, 2016 4:45 am

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday ordered revenue and forest departments to look into the ownership of land on which a state minister’s trust has constructed buildings for educational institutes. The order came after activist Ankur Sharma filed a public interest litigation alleging that BJP minister Abdul Gani Kohli and his kin were running the institutes on forest land.

Jammu Deputy Commissioner had earlier submitted a report that two revenue officials had prepared saying that the institutes stood on Khasra no 264, which is marked as state land in Chhani Rama area. Kohli’s family-run trust had never mentioned Khasra No. 264 while seeking permissions to set up educational institutes. It had said that their land falls under Khasra no 356 which, according to Divisional Forest Officer, was forest land.

The court said that the conflicting reports seem to have been filed to create confusion. It added that demarcation of the land be done within four weeks to ascertain the ownership.

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Demonetisation politics: Punjab election candidates talk to bankers as people protest cash crunch

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Published:December 30, 2016 4:02 am

punjab, punjab elections, punjab polls, demonetisation, demonetisation politics, demonetisation elections, aap, punjab aap, aam aadmi party, congress, indian express news, india news, elections updates Congress candidate Daman Bajwa and AAP candidate Aman Arora interact with people outside SBI branch on Thursday. Express photo

DEMONETISATION IS a major factor in poll-bound Punjab as candidates are leaving nothing to chance to join the angry public standing in queues outside banks. While Congress and AAP have been reaching out to masses, SAD and BJP prefer to stay away as they support demonetisation. One such incident was visible outside the SBI branch of Sunam in Sangrur district which has over 2,500 accounts of this small area. Over 300 people (men and women) had queued up outside since 6 am only to know at 11 am that all cannot be compensated as there was cash crunch. This led to a protest followed by traffic jam and Daman Bajwa, the Congress candidate, joined the dharna followed by AAP candidate Aman Arora, who accused the Modi government for the people’s woes.

While talking to The Indian Express, Bajwa said, “Most of the people had been standing in the queue since 6 am and at around 11 am, they were told that there is only Rs 1 lakh cash and hence all cannot be entertained. This was ridiculous. So, they had no option but to sit on dharna.”

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The dharna continued for about an hour. Later, the bank got Rs 4 lakh cash deposits from some customers and hence cash distribution was done to nearly 70 people and each account holder was given Rs 10,000 instead of the Rs 4,000 planned earlier.

Manpreet Singh, local Congress councillor, said, “They write token numbers on the hands of people and don’t even let them know how many people can be entertained on a single day. And not all those who got Rs 10,000 each have been told not to come to the bank for one week for fresh withdrawals. We really wonder when this cash crunch will be over and now 50 days, as told by Modi, are also over.”

Aman Arora, too, wasted no time in sitting on dharna with the people and even talked to bankers on behalf of account holders. Arora has been campaigning in this area since long while Bajwa’s name was announced on December 23 only. Candidates, who spoke to the bankers, asked them to call people on the basis of availability of cash instead of making them wait for hours.

Meanwhile, bank authorities revealed that they had been dealing with day-to-day cash deposits for disbursal and hence had limitations.

SPS Kohli, lead district manager of Sangrur, said, “Situation is improving now and at the same time, we are holding workshops with people to go cashless so as to reduce the queues.”

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Congman lodges complaint against party MLA at Akal Takht Sahib

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | Published:December 30, 2016 3:58 am

A COMPLAINT was lodged against the Congress MLA from Kapurthala and vice-president of the state unit, Rana Gurjeet Singh, at Akal Takht Sahib in Amritsar by Kulwinder Singh Babbal, a Congressman and ticket aspirant from Bholath Assembly constituency, on Thursday. This comes two days after an FIR was filed against Rana Gurjeet Singh.

In the complaint addressed to Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib, Amritsar, Babbal mentioned that his Sikh sarup (Sikh ppearance) had been desecrated by removing his turban at the behest of Rana Gurjeet’s men. “During a meeting at Nadala on December 25, where a political issue was being discussed, Rana Gurjeet told his men to insult and humiliate me and then his supporters, including Daljeet Singh and Gurpreet Singh, manhandled me, beat me up and removed my turban. They also held me by my beard and hair and made an attempt on my life. Then, Rana Gurjeet patted them,” said Babbal. “I have come to you to get justice for this insult/humiliation and disrespect to my Sikh sarup,” said Babbal. He also demanded strict action against all the alleged accused.

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When contacted, Rana said he did not want to comment.

Already an FIR has been filed against Rana and his supporters by Kapurthala police on December 26 under Section 295(A) (hurting religious sentiments), Section 506 IPC and Arms Act following a complaint by Babbal.

On Wednesday, Rana alleged that the case against him was registered at the behest of state Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia with whom he had a face-off during an Assembly session in 2012. Rana also said that he would fight the case both in court as well as politically and even dared the police to arrest him.

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Postpone Punjab polls, says Bir Devinder

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:December 30, 2016 3:55 am

punjab elections, punjab polls, punjab polls postpone, bir devinder, election commission, financial emergency, demonetisation, indian express news, punjab “The ridiculous act of demonetisation, declaring 86 per cent of the Indian currency as illegal tender, is certainly not conducive to holding free and fair elections,” added Singh.

FORMER DEPUTY speaker Bir Devinder Singh on Thursday demanded postponement of the Punjab Assembly election in view of demonetisation, stating a common man would not be able to contest in view of the note crunch.

In a letter to the Election Commission, Singh referred to the situation as akin to “financial emergency” and demanded that the election be put off till the situation normalised.

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“With more or less Rs 15 lakh crores sucked back from the system, now, there are stringent restrictions on how much one can withdraw from one’s personal account, that, too, within specified period of times. Majority of the ATMs and banks are cashless, putting the general public in extreme agony. Unfortunately, currency position does not seem to become normal in the foreseeable future. In view of the grim economic conditions, which amounts to ‘fiscal paralysis’, I would wish to submit to the Election Commission of India to seriously consider postponing the Punjab Assembly elections, taking into account the unprecedented currency crunch and rigorous restrictions on the withdrawal of money from the banks,” he said.

“The ridiculous act of demonetisation, declaring 86 per cent of the Indian currency as illegal tender, is certainly not conducive to holding free and fair elections,” added Singh.

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Dalit group plans mass gathering outside court in Una town of Gir Somnath

By: Express News Service | Rajkot | Updated: December 30, 2016 3:45 am

dalits, gujarat dalits, saurashtra region, Una, dalits attacked, Dalits gather outside court, dalit protest, dalit protests, gau rakshaks, gau rakshaks attack, india news, indian express news Seven Dalits were allegedly assaulted by a group of cow rakshaks (cow vigilantes) in Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka in Gir Somnath district on July 11 this year. (Source: AP Photo/File)

DALIT LEADERS in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat Thursday appealed to their community members to assemble outside the court in Una town of Gir Somnath district on January 3 and extend “moral support” to fellow community members who were allegedly assaulted by a group gau rakshaks and are fighting a legal battle now.

“To extend support to victims of Una and to make them believe that they are not alone, but the entire Dalit community was behind them, we, hereby, appeal to the Dalits of Gujarat to assemble in big numbers in Una court on Tuesday (January 3, 2017) to repay to the community and ensure that the sacrifices made by the community do not go in vain,” read a message circulated on social media by Saurashtra Dalit Sangathan (SDS), a group of Dalits of Saurashtra region.

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Seven Dalits were allegedly assaulted by a group of cow rakshaks (cow vigilantes) in Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka in Gir Somnath district on July 11 this year when they were allegedly skinning carcass of a cow. Four of them were allegedly kidnapped, brought to Una town and flogged before police rescued them. Criminal Investigation Department (crime) had investigated this case. The agency had arrested 42 persons, including four policemen, and three minors in connection with the case. The investigating agency has already filed two chargesheets in the case while it is in the process of filing the third one.

“The prosecution will submit documentary evidence to the court on January 3 against the accused. Based on that evidence, we shall argue to frame charges against the accused,” special public prosecutor Dipendra Yadav said, adding that the accused will also be produced in court that day.

Deven Vanvi, convenor of SDS, said they were trying to mobilise Dalits to extend moral support to the victims. “The supporters of the accused have been mobbing the court premises every time they are brought there,” he said.

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Delhi confidential: All In The Mind

By: Express News Service | Published:December 30, 2016 3:24 am

Prakash Javadekar, hrd, hrd ministry, uttar pradesh elections, punjab elections, up polls, punjab polls, congress, rahul gandhi, venkaiah naidu, demonetisation, ashoka road, indian express news, india news HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar.

AT A function to launch a new cleanliness initiative, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar recounted an instance about how hygiene habits do not just depend on toilets. He recalled how during a meeting of party workers in Pune, a restless worker told him he wanted to relieve himself but could not do so within the confines of a toilet. He needed open space. Such mindsets have to be addressed, Javdekar said.

Protest Plans

WITH ASSEMBLY elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh round the corner, the Congress is planning ways to keep up the momentum on the demonetisation issue for some more months. Plans are afoot to hold a national convention in mid-January to launch a second phase of street protests across the country. Sources said around 15,000 Congress workers from across the country could be mobilised for the convention. Congress leaders are now busy scouting a venue to hold the convention to be addressed by Rahul Gandhi.

The One-liners

PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS Minister M Venkaiah Naidu once again came out with punchy one-liners and anecdotes as he launched a hard-hitting attack on Congress for its campaign against the government’s demonetisation decision. “During UPA, it was PM presides, Madam or Boy decides. Now PM presides, Team decides,” he said. He went on about how note ban is “an anti-scam vaccine”. “India has changed, though Congress has not changed. Demonetisation is yajna but asuras try to disturb peace during the yajna,” he said.

Thinking Ahead

THERE WAS an unusually festive feel near the BJP party office on Ashoka Road with the entire area decorated with huge banners, with prominent pictures of party vice-president Shyam Jaju. It was Jaju’s birthday and, with just a few months to go for the MCD elections, there was a line of well-wishers stepping out of SUVs with bouquets in hand. Jaju is the prabhari for Delhi and it seems the ticket-seekers were not going to let go of such an opportunity to pay their obeisance.

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