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AFT reinstates 2/Lt after 25 yrs :::THE GOLD BISCUITS

Slaps Rs 5-cr fine on Ministry of Defence; asks for promotion up to Lt Col

Shahira Naim

Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 20

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has reinstated Second Lieutenant Shatrughan Singh Chauhan after 25 years, restoring his seniority and promotions as well as imposing a fine of Rs 5 crore on the Ministry of Defence.The matter, which came up before AFT’s Justice DP Singh and Air Marshal Anil Chopra yesterday, is about Mainpuri native Second Lt SS Chauhan, who had been serving in the Sixth Rajput Battalion when he was court martialled on November 4, 1991, which sacked him and awarded him seven-year imprisonment.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd) The order was later confirmed by the then General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Udhampur. In a major indictment of his seniors, the AFT observed that his senior officers had purposely implicated the young officer in a false case to ensure that the gold he had recovered during a search operation could be concealed from the government.The AFT order quashing Chauhan’s sacking order has directed the Defence Ministry to provide him promotional avenues up to the stage of Lieutenant Colonel for the purpose of arrears of salary pension benefits and rank.The ministry is also to pay Rs 4 crore to Chauhan and another Rs 1 crore has to be deposited in the Army Central Welfare Fund within four months.The case goes back to April 11, 1990, when during the peak days of militancy during a search operation in Srinagar, Chauhan in the presence of other soldiers had recovered 147 gold biscuits weighing around 27.5 kg.The CO, Colonel KRS Panwar allegedly put pressure on Chauhan not to mention the gold in the documents. The other senior officers also remained silent.The gold biscuits were allegedly embezzled by the senior army officers. The officer took the matter to Parliament’s Committee of Petitions. The Army headquarters ordered a separate inquiry.It was during the inquiry that some army officers covering him with a blanket attacked Chauhan while he was sleeping in a tent.In 1991, the court martial cut short Chauhan’s career sentencing him to seven-year jail on charges of being a deserter and mentally unstable.

Court-martialled officer reinstated after 26 years

LUCKNOW: The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has restored the services of a second lieutenant, who was court-martialled in 1991, and imposed a fine of ₹5 crore on the ministry of defence.

SS Chauhan, who was a second lieutenant in the Indian Army’s Sixth Rajput Battalion, was posted in Srinagar when he was court-martialled on various charges, declared a deserter and mentally unstable.

The rank of a second lieutenant is no longer in use in the army and all new officers are commissioned as lieutenants.

Passing the judgment on Thursday, justice DP Singh and air marshal Anil Chopra quashed Chauhan’s court-martial.

They also ordered the defence ministry to reinstate the officer as well as provide him promotional avenues up to the stage of lieutenant colonel for the purpose of arrears of salary, pension benefits and rank.

The tribunal also ordered the ministry of defence to pay ₹4 crore to Chauhan and deposit ₹1 crore with the Army Central Welfare Fund within a period of four months.

Chauhan, a native of Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district, was court-martialled on November 4, 1991, and the order was approved by the then General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Srinagar.

The officer’s ordeal began when he recovered 147 gold biscuits weighing around 27.5kg during a search operation in Srinagar on April 11, 1990.

In his petition, Chauhan pointed out that the gold biscuits were recovered from a house in the presence of other soldiers and were handed over to the then Colonel KRS Pawar and then Lt General Zaki Mohammad Ahmad.

The gold biscuits were allegedly ‘embezzled’ by the senior army officers.

During the trial, the tribunal observed that Chauhan’s senior officers implicated him in false cases to ensure that the recovery of gold could be concealed from the government.

Justice Singh and Air Marshal Chopra directed the chief of the army staff to look into the matter and ensure that appropriate action is taken against those who were instrumental in persecuting Chauhan and complete the inquiry in four months.

Chinese subs permanently sailing in Indian Ocean

Test Indian tracking abilities, no aggressive posture so far

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 20

Posing a fresh challenge to India, one or two Chinese submarines are now permanently sailing in the Indian Ocean, testing New Delhi’s abilities to keep an eye on under-sea threats.The Navy has flagged the matter to the government about the continuous presence of Chinese submarines, floating either in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal. Though the subs are in international waters, the visits are no more sporadic in nature.For the past one year or more, submarines of the People Liberation Army Navy are constantly noticed, Navy has told the government. The world’s busiest sea lane of communication runs from the west of India and passes through the Bay of Bengal. China’s trade moves on these routes and so does India’s and Japan’s, among others.With submarine technology becoming more sophisticated, tracking these under-sea vessels is a challenge. China has 61 submarines, including nine nuclear-powered, allowing longer endurance. At present, China is just testing waters and there is no aggressive posturing, sources said.A submarine, under-sea, can ‘pin down’ six-seven warships just by instilling the fear of unknown and track ship movements. The Navy’s most potent ability to track submarines is the Boeing P-8I maritime patrol aircraft. Eight are in the fleet and another four are on order. The aircraft have the ability to quickly search a wide area of water.Such is the threat that the Navy wants even the planned 100-odd naval utility copters to carry an anti-submarine weapon. The Kalvari class diesel-electric submarines have ASW suites. The Kalvari and Khanderi, the first two of the subs, will be commissioned within this year.A new set of ASW-capable helicopters are on the anvil. An ASW helicopter with its sea-dunking sonars is a favoured platform for detecting a submarine as an over flying copter itself cannot be found or targeted by a submarine. The ASW-capable Kamov 28 copters are being modernised, sensors upgraded and the copters will undergo a technical overhaul to enhance the copter’s life.

Cause for concern

  • With submarine technology becoming more sophisticated, tracking under-sea vessels is a challenge
  • China has 61 submarines, including nine nuclear-powered, allowing longer endurance
  • A submarine, under-sea, can ‘pin down’ six-seven warships just by instilling the fear of unknown and track ship movements


A tougher US line on Pakistan? Moeed Yusuf

An absence of cross-border attacks with links to militant presence in Pakistan and a more visibly stringent approach towards these actors are necessary prerequisites for any US President to consider an out-of-the-box approach to Pakistan’s liking

THE Indo-US strategic partnership has been a source of constant tension in Pak-US ties in recent years. The US has pursued ‘de-hyphenation’ ie dealing with Islamabad and New Delhi relatively independently of each other. Central to this has been its hands-off approach on contentious Pak-India issues.Donald Trump has excited the Pakistani policy space by hinting at his willingness to reconsider the US line. Pakistani officials in touch with Washington have been trying to determine if Trump will actually consider a more proactive effort to improve Pak-India ties.While there’s no definitive answer, one can point to factors that will influence the Trump White House’s final policy. President Obama’s experience is a starting point. Candidate Obama was explicit in promising a regional approach to South Asia during the 2008 campaign. His reasoning confirmed an appreciation of the link between Pak-India tensions and their fallout on Afghanistan: to solve Afghanistan, one needs improvement on the Pak-India front. India shot down his idea and US policy recoiled to its de-hyphenation default.The Trump administration will confront the same set of challenges — and more. First, the Washington policy establishment is even more solidly committed to opposing US involvement in Pak-India issues than it was eight years ago. I have challenged the wisdom of this stance given that it contradicts US interest in South Asia. But few accept the proposition. Still, some in Pakistan hope that the Trump team may be less worried about defying Washington’s establishment. Perhaps. But a new administration with multiple policy positions seemingly at odds with this establishment would have to pick its battles carefully. Non-priorities like Pak-India may be ones to sacrifice.Second, Trump’s position on China will complicate things. If Sino-US competition accentuates, India will be even more important as a counterweight to Beijing. India’s leverage over the US would increase, and it will demand that Washington put Pak-India back in cold storage. Pakistan’s backing of China would strengthen India’s case.Third, Afghanistan will influence Washington’s approach. A tougher US line on the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network is on the cards. Pakistan’s likely resistance to fresh US demands to ‘do more’ would imply added tensions in ties, creating more space for critical voices in Washington to oppose US engagement on Pak-India issues.Fourth, Pakistan continues to be its own worst enemy. The state’s policies on anti-India militant outfits can’t win it any champions. The world cannot be expected to reach but the most sceptical conclusion when it sees leaders of anti-India outfits floating around freely and when it finds the Pakistani state trying to avoid sincerely prosecuting those charged with committing terrorism in India. Perhaps nothing has aided India’s global push to isolate Pakistan more than the latter’s mishandling of the Mumbai trials.Finally, any US leader must ask: what is the probability of success? Washington’s bureaucracy is hesitant to put the US president out on such issues without a real possibility of success. The prognosis for Kashmir is anything but. Indeed, it is no coincidence that while Pakistan’s position articulates the need for US involvement, it explains little on how this would lead to a realistic resolution. Even the most committed Trump White House won’t want to set itself up to fail.What could change this calculus? India’s management of its ties with the US is a factor to watch. New Delhi could damage its case by refusing to play counterweight to China. India has been hanging in the balance on the issue but that may not be good enough for Washington going forward, especially if Sino-US tensions heat up. Second, Prime Minister Modi has been presenting the US stance on his efforts to isolate Pakistan as a litmus test of US sincerity to Indo-US ties. If he overplays his hand, Washington may push back, and find more space to invest in trying to improve Pak-India ties.Also, if Sino-US ties do not sour under Trump, the two sides can cooperate in the Af-Pak-India theatre. Both want a stable Afghanistan and Pakistan, absence of Pak-India crises (if not improved ties between the two), and economic integration in South Asia. Theoretically, they could coordinate a policy aimed at incentivising a change in policy attitudes regionally. The US could take the lead in convincing India and Afghanistan while China could work with Pakistan to achieve a transformed regional architecture.That said, no one is likely to go to bat for Pakistan in Washington unless there is a discernible change in the former’s approach towards anti-India and anti-Afghan militancy.

By arrangement with Dawn

Modi’s monumental mistake S Nihal Singh

Modi’s monumental mistake
In deed: There cannot be a substitute for the Mahatma.

ITS symbolism was devastating: the replacement of the familiar image of Mahatma Gandhi at the charkha in the traditional calendar and diaries of the main khadi institution by PM Narendra Modi. What was intended to be left unsaid was made explicit by the Haryana Minister in the BJP government, Anil Vij. He declared that Modi was a better brand than Gandhi, forced though he was to withdraw his remarks under pressure from an embarrassed BJP. This was undoubtedly Modi’s biggest misstep in the domestic arena in his first three years in office. Having hogged space in the political arena and in social media, the Prime Minister has done himself no service to proclaim that he has arrived, to rub shoulders with one revered as the Father of the Nation. Assuming that the change in the calendar would not have been made without a nod from the Prime Minister’s office, it was a disastrous decision because it proclaimed Modi’s narcissism and desire to distinguish himself from other politicians across the political board. This comes after he has disregarded the convention that apart from a symbolic speech, the holder of the highest political office in the land does not get into campaigning for his or her party in Assembly elections. As we have seen in the past and continue to witness in campaigning for Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections, Modi is the star campaigner lusty in his castigation of the Opposition and his party men are not shy in seeking votes for state Assemblies in his name. His persona is writ large in his election speeches, typically suggesting that the Opposition wants to remove Modi while he wants to remove black money. Modi has made two major mistakes in running his administration. In addition to wearing the crown of the Mahatma, his one mistake in foreign policy was to persist in seeking membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group after China made it clear in private and publicly that it would block it. Beijing administered a clear snub by vetoing the move. Indeed, it is a mystery why Modi decided to declare a losing hand, rather than waiting to fight another day. This is not to denigrate the Prime Minister’s astute foreign policy moves in wooing former US president Barack Obama or making a dash to Lahore to greet Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. However, Modi’s calendar move is of far greater import politically because he is in danger of living in a bubble glorifying his own prominence and the reverential tones his party men are adopting in referring to him are building an aura of invincibility. The Mahatma never held public office although he was the guiding spirit of the Independence movement in which the BJP’s mentor, RSS, played an ambiguous role.In realpolitik terms, by transposing his picture for the Mahatma’s, Modi has peaked too early. Granted, he is thus far the unchallenged and tallest leader of the BJP, but the danger lurking in the background is his propensity to take major decisions alone. Take the demonetisation issue. The new man in charge at the Reserve Bank, Mr Arjit Patel, is suggesting that the demonetisation move was months in the making. If so, why was no homewok done on the urgent steps required to fill the gap after the old notes were withdrawn? The tussle with the judiciary establishment is another facet of the government’s desire to control as many levers of power as it can.Is Modi then leading the country to a virtual president form of government? The Prime Minister appears uncomfortable with the parliamentary system, spending little time in participating in the cut and thrust of debate, unlike his predecessors. Indeed, his metier seems to be one-way communication — through tweets and Facebook — because there is no scope for hostile questioning.The question to ask today is: where Modi’s caravan will go in the remaining term of his office. If he does not believe in the Oscar Wildean adage of “nothing succeeds like excess”, he must trim his sails as he reaches out for a second term. It is all very well to present the country’s problems as a contest between the rich and the poor, but there is a limit determined by credibility to how far you can reduce everything to this simplistic code. Bashing the Opposition parties as dens of the rich is likely to prove unproductive. In his armoury are the double-edged demonetisation issue for its boldness and of course the “surgical strikes” on Pakistan. The tipping point in Modi’s three years of rule at the Centre has arrived inadvertently. But it is a warning signal that there are treasured institutions that cannot be denigrated. Granted that Modi is the big chief, but even big chiefs have to respect icons of the age. There cannot be a substitute for the Mahatma. A presidential system is beyond the horizon of the next general election in 2019 and even when we arrive at that point there is bound to be stiff resistance to the idea. The framers of our Constitution had good reasons to opt for the parliamentary system because of the diversity of the nation. Indira Gandhi’s experiment with the Emergency showed the weaknesses of an over-centralised system of governance, apart from the very repugnance of the regime. What remains to be determined is how far Modi will seek to buttress his own powers even before he can change the parliamentary to a presidential system. The Prime Minister is capable of staking positions that involve risks such as the demonetisation measure. The danger, of course, is that he is so convinced of his own infallibility that he can overreach himself. The outcome of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections is important not only for the BJP, but also for Modi’s own political future. He is banking on his “magic touch” by failing to name a chief ministerial candidate. It is Modi all the way.

MC to exchange land with Army authorities

MC to exchange land with Army authorities
DC Rakesh Kanwar (extreme right) inspects the land with the Army officers in Solan on Friday.

Tribune News Service

Solan, January 20

The Solan Municipal Committee (MC) may soon get a stretch of 2,367 sq m of defence land at the old bus stand by exchanging about 2,400 sq mt of its land at the Kather bypass with the defence authorities. This will pave the way for the construction of new parking lots for taxis and local buses besides a shopping complex.A meeting to work out its nitty-gritty was convened today by Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar where Col Omvir Pawar represented the defence authorities. Executive Officer, local MC, BR Negi; ADM Sandip Negi and revenue officials were also present on the occasion.The officials also visited the site and inspected various crucial issues, including location of the new sentry gate on the Kather bypass. A meeting will now be convened with the officials of the national highways on Monday. Since a large portion of the bypass was slated to be included in the ongoing four-laning work, it will be ensured that the location of the sentry gate did not fell in the purview of the four-laning.The MC had earlier constructed a road to facilitate the movement of Army vehicles into their area. The movement of heavy Army vehicles from the busy Mall Road often created peril both for the Army as well as civilians.


Capt warns to crack whip, Cong once again at war with its own

REBEL TROUBLE Party woes self­inflicted, rebels say false surveys, loyalty to leaders decided tickets

CHANDIGARH: It is a poll ritual. All the 1,600-odd Congress ticket applicants had signed a ‘loyalty’ pledge to accept the official candidate announced by the party and not unfurl a banner of revolt.

In 2017 elections too, the Congress is battling more of its same old woes. After a delayed distribution of tickets, the Congress is once again at war with its own as withdrawal of nominations ends on Saturday.

In a remake of 2012 elections, when Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh had inadvertently announced a “qatal-e-aam” (massacre) of rebels at a rally, Capt on Friday again issued an ultimatum to party rebels to “toe the party line or face expulsion from the party for life”.

Before the stick, Amarinder had dangled the carrot — by promising to accommodate in key positions those who withdrew from the fray in support of the party nominees, after the Congress came to power.

But with many of them still defiant and the party worried by unconfirmed reports of deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal again propping Congress rebels with “funds”, Amarinder said in a statement on Friday that he and general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari have successfully quashed rebellion in most of the 20-odd constituencies where there have been reports of rebel trouble. The unofficial list has nearly 29 rebels, some of them with potential to cause major damage.


But the bushfires are far from over. And party insiders believe much of the Congress woes are self-inflicted. “Banga MLA Tarlochan Soondh and Gurbinder Singh Atwal were denied tickets not owing to surveys but for being close to Amarinder’s known baiter, Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Singh Dullo. Both are now contesting as rebels from Banga and Nakodar, respectively, and will dent party’s prospects there,” party sources said.

Party spokesperson Nimisha Mehta denied she has agreed to withdraw from the race from Garhshankar seat. “Asha called me up on Friday asking me to withdraw. I challenge her to show me the surveys that show Luv Kumar Goldy as a winner from this seat. It was she who played favourites in the ticket game,” Nimisha said.

Some Congress MLAs also question if surveys decided the candidates of Ludhiana South and Sunam seats. “The surveys were just an excuse to adjust loyalists. And while Amarinder wanted enough of his own to ensure he can be the CM, other MPs and screening committee members too have served their own interests. Surveys and ‘one family, one ticket’ rule were used as elimination round for others,” a senior MLA said.


Though the Congress has loyalty affidavits, if you rebel, you stand a greater chance of being rewarded with a ticket in the next election.

Past rebels who lost elections but dented the party prospects, such as Sukhjinder Singh ‘Lalli’ Majithia, Madan Lal Jalalpur and Deepinder Dhillon, have been allotted tickets this time. So has been Rajnish Kumar ‘Babbi’, who won as a rebel from Mukerian.

Badals’ interests in conflict with state exchequer: Sidhu

CHANDIGARH: Cricketer-turnedpolitician Navjot Singh Sidhu kick-started his poll campaign from Chandigarh with the bashing of the Badals. He accused the state’s first family of “looting” Punjab in excise collection, tourism and transport sectors during SAD-BJP’s 10-years rule.

RAVI KUMAR/HTNavjot Singh Sidhu addressing mediapersons in Chandigarh on Friday.

“The Badal family’s intention was to become richer with people’s money. Punjab has suffered a lot due to the never-ending greed of the Badal family, which has a direct conflict of interest with the state exchequer,” he said.

Sidhu, who addressed the media here in the presence of Congress in-charge for Punjab affairs Asha Kumari on Friday, will fight as a Congress candidate from Amritsar East constituency for the February 4 elections.

Comparing the excise collection figures of Punjab and Tamil Nadu, he said Punjab has 12,500 liquor vends and the annual revenue collection from these stands at ₹5,610 crore as against Tamil Nadu’s ₹26,188 crore from its 6,323 vends. “Punjab has the highest per capita alcohol consumption. This trade has been monopolised by the Badal family for the last 10 years. Indirectly, every bottle in Punjab is sold by the Badals,” Sidhu said.

He said due to poor implementation of policies during the 10-year rule of the Akali-BJP government, Punjab lost ₹1.5-lakh crore. “Had this money used, the state could have been free of debts, which rose from ₹44,000 crore to ₹3-lakh crore in 10 years,” he said.

He said government-run hotels in Punjab have been closed and put on sale on the excuse that they were loss-making ventures. “The Badals sold government hotels and resorts to their associates at throwaway prices. A hotel built by the Badals in the periphery of Chandigarh reportedly charges up to ₹5 lakh per night,” he said.

“Before coming to power in 2007, the Badal family owned 50 buses, but now the number stands at 650 and the number of transport companies owned by the family has risen from two to eight,” he said, adding, “Government companies having larger fleets are running in huge losses, but Badal family’s buses are profiting.”

On his joining the Congress, Sidhu said, “I joined the party without a condition. I will have a role in campaigning to make the party win the polls,” he said .

Attacking the opposition in typical Sidhu style, he said: “Pagri sambhal jatta, bairian ney lutt liya sara maal oye (It’s time to save the turban… enemies have looted the riches),” he said .


Friday saw a ferocious war of words between the ruling Badals and Navjot Sidhu. Sample this:


They (Badals) sidelined me in Amritsar. Jealousy is jaundice of soul.

The loss of Punjab is directly proportional to Sardar Badal’s gain.

Badal saab, tu kar kar hera-pherian, charr baitha teesi (Mr Badal you made it to the top by wrong-doings).


Sidhu has changed so many mothers … First, it was BJP, then AAP and now Congress.


Sidhu betrayed BJP. He is now a paid agent of Congress and can’t be trusted.


Sidhu’s oratory is limited to laughter shows. In Lok Sabha he rarely opened his mouth.


Cautious after a shoe attack on CM Parkash Singh Badal recently, the police on Friday asked attend- ees to remove their shoes before the CM’s daughter-in-law and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal arrived for the Akali workers’ meeting in Mansa’s Bhikhi town. Black clothes were also banned, lest these be used to mark protest.


OnCMcandidate: “I met Rahul Gandhi (AICC vice-president) a few times and never demanded anything. I have no personal agenda”.

On BJP: “Before leaving BJP, I met all its leaders and requested them to save Punjab. I would have easily left Amritsar and contested from Kurukshetra if it was in Punjab’s interest.” On AAP: “I met Arvind Kejriwal and told him that I don’t want anything. They didn’t want me to contest the polls.”

President’s daughter slams AAP

LUDHIANA: Lambasting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, a senior Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of President of India Pranab Mukherjee, claimed that there is no truth in claims made by AAP of development in Delhi.

HT PHOTOSharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of President Pranab Mukherjee, addressing the media in Ludhiana on Friday.

While addressing a press conference in Ludhiana on Friday, Mukherjee said that AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal is misguiding the people of Punjab by making false claims about development works in Delhi. District Congress president Gurpreet Gogi and Ludhiana West Candidate Bharat Bhushan Ashu were present during the press conference.

Mukherjee claimed that no development has taken place in Delhi while liquor vends have been opened at various places. While attacking on SAD-BJP alliance, Mukherjee said that the SAD-BJP government is responsible for drug menace in Punjab.

SAD office-bearers join Congress


Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20

In another jolt to the SAD-BJP alliance in the city, many SAD office-bearers today joined the Congress in the presence of Manpreet Singh Badal at a function held in the trans-railway line area in Ward number 40 and 41.The leaders who came into the Congress fold were SAD vice-president (city) Gurcharan Singh Aulakh, SAD women’s wing vice-president (city) Baljit Kaur Bhullar, SAD women’s wing vice-president (city) Poonam Verma, organising secretary circle canal Bhola Singh, youth president of Ward Number 43 Dr Resham Singh, youth wing circle canal vice-president Anil Yadav and others.Congress candidate Manpreet Badal assured the new entrants that they would get due respect and honour.He claimed that after coming to power, record development would be undertaken in the trans-railway line area and this area would benamed new Bathinda.

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A general who only salutes power?by Lt Gen Jasbir Singh Dhaliwal PVSM,AVSM,VSM


G eneral JJ Singh (retd) has decided to take the plunge in the electoral politics of Punjab on an Akali ticket. The general, besides having been the chief of army staff, was also the Arunachal Pradesh governor.

It’s unfortunate that the lure of power and pelf has proved too much for the general to resist. He already seems to have imbibed the political language and tenor when he claims that he will fight the enemy (his opponent Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress) without pity or remorse and humiliate him (‘Mein ohdi mitti puleet kar dewanga’). Such language and stance is decidedly not befitting a former army chief and a former governor.

General Singh claims that the Modi government has given defence personnel one rank one pension (OROP), and that the Seventh Pay Commission has been favourable to them. Obviously, the general does not seem to know that what the government has given is a lame-duck OROP and veterans continue to protest.

While ex-servicemen roughed it out at Jantar Mantar for over a year and a half, the general did not find it worthwhile to visit them to say that he was with them on their most legitimate demand. Nor did he have anything to say when these veterans were lathicharged, and their war medals pulled off their shirts by the police. These veterans were protesting in a peaceful manner at a place designated by the government and there was no unlawful act on their part.

The general also does not seem to know what injustice the Seventh Pay Commission has done to the defence services; on the contrary, he claims that this commission has done well for them. It would be too much to expect him to be aware that over two dozen anomalies of the Sixth Pay Commission, some decade and half later, are yet to be resolved by this government and that Seventh Pay Commission has added to their woes.

At the time of Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC), he was the army chief (as also chairman of chiefs of staff committee) when Non Functional Financial Up-Gradation (NFFU) was given by this commission to over 50 central services while leaving the defence services in the cold. When some officers at the Army Headquarters approached him to pitch for grant of NFFU to defence services as well, he is believed to have observed, that if every military officer is to get the same pay and pension (based on length of service) then what is the fun of becoming a general! Maybe he was rewarded with governorship for meekly accepting the anti-defence services dispensation of the 6th CPC.

The sad part is that barring two service chiefs (both from the Indian Navy) no other chief and that includes Gen JJ Singh, has stood by their officers and men and their core interest while dealing with successive pay commissions. Thus, every pay commission has succeeded in dealing a totally unfair hand to defence personnel, both serving and retired. Gen JJ Singh’s claim that he wants to serve the people needs to be assessed against his performance in serving the interest of men under his command.

While he has decided to contest the Punjab elections, he may not be aware that the party on whose ticket he is fighting this election, is aligned with the party in power which is making every effort to deny serving soldiers their fundamental right to cast their vote at the place of their posting. How can a former army chief be so oblivious of such a mischievous move by the government, with which his party is in cahoots?

A delegation of veterans from Chandigarh has taken it upon themselves to dissuade General JJ Singh to stay away from contesting the election or at least not contest against another respected veteran. Maybe the general’s ambition has always had the better of his judgment and nothing will ever dissuade him from taking this electoral plunge. Whether he will win or lose is not clear yet, but he will surely succeed in lowering the stature and standing of the institution of the Chief of the Army Staff.

(The writer is a Chandigarh­based retired army officer. Views expressed are personal)

I was reminded of two movies which have been my long time favourites; one was *“An Officer and a Gentleman”, and the other “Pretty Woman”*. The hero in both is Richard Gere. A poor orphan in the first one and a stinking rich businessman in the other, and in both he proved to be a Gentleman to the core.
In the first he did not quit though his sergeant Major, the Drill instructor grilled him till he almost gave up. _In the other he decided to bring out the best of a lady in Julia Roberts at whatever cost. From being a woman of ill repute to a woman who is the most sophisticated on earth, he taught her to behave like a queen. A big contrast in the story lines but a glaring similarity too. In the end the goal was to make the man and the lady the toughest, mentally, physically and to be at their behavioural best, to be the best in their conduct, and to be proud of whatever they were and are, isn’t it?_
 Well, now let me bring in a different tadka of General JJ Singh (Retd) in it. *I am sure half of your mouths flavour would have got spoilt.* Well I am going to discuss a few things of what I see of him on TV now and what I as a veteran feel about it.
*I know I should not discuss such a senior, respectable and honourable officer, who served as my Chief of Army Staff, and later went on to become the honourable Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. I am sure all his details can be seen on Wikipedia. I was awestruck at the decorations he has, besides the ones which come with age and profile of service. He has the PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, Wound Medal and an Officer of the Legion of Honour of France, in all 21 medals and decorations.
I salute you sir. I am sure you would have reached the coveted post of COAS with sheer hard work and toil.* Then you also became Governor of a state due to your knowledge of the intricacies and complexities of things there, I assume. Today, you have decided to enter into the political arena and that too against your rival, an Ex-NDA at that. May be you were a course or two junior to the Capt against whom you have decided to contest elections in Patiala.
Well, how, when why, what of the decision of you joining politics is purely your internal bandobast, but *for me as veteran and mango man, what when why that has gone wrong in the way you conduct yourselves after joining politics has become an issue.*
✅  *The first thing we were taught in NDA was to respect your seniors, right.*
✅  The second thing was obey orders, right. _Today you are not even a second termer in politics, and you are telling a sixth termer who has lived and fought politics all his life, in NDA parlance been even relegated many a times when he lost elections and you are trying to take his place.
You are not even a “Green Horn” where as he in his final term, in fact he is about to pass out and you decide to contest and beat him_. Well I wish you luck. I am sure you are getting into the novices boxing ring where you all hardly know one other. You are raw and are put into the boxing ring against your will. Even if by a far chance should I consider the Captain a novice in the game, he has been a champion boxer in his school, TANNNNN, the gong has been struck sir, box on.
_Last night I was watching a show on NDTV, where you and Sachin Pilot were discussing your “fight” in Patiala. You know what, you are not even fit for novices boxing is my view._
*The way Sachin conducted himself with grace and finesse and mind you with so much of respect for you, not as a rival but because you had been a General, you should be grateful. He laughed at your inexperience and thankfully left you with your pants on*
✅. Sir, one more thing which *the Academy taught us was to be Gentlemen, and I found you to be more of an uncouth person, who suddenly has forgotten all the virtues, values and manners which one has picked up all your lives. Do you remember how the seniors used to treat us? Did you ever utter a word in NDA?* Or were you a sissy, that after every fall in you ran to your Div-O to put that senior up. That is what it appeared to me that after leading an Army and a state, *today you have turned into a sissy of sorts by resorting to hitting below the belt. You are not talking face to face with the Captain; you are giving an opinion or a statement about him in his absence and comparing yourself with Donald Trump.*
_*A gentleman was taught to sort things out face to face, and not use the media as a tool to defame the other person.*_ Let me in the same breadth not give an impression that Capt is my favourite, or I am a congress man. But let me also tell you that you may have joined whichever party; they know they can never win here and shall have this one seat less for sure. *The deposit that you give for this election, the election commission has already started to say cheers and party in anticipation that it shall be forfeited.*
🚩⛔  _The basic principal of fauj, when you went to establish a new post was to recce, familiarise, see the routes of ingress and egress, see your bottle necks, look for cover, camouflage and concealment, cover your approaches based on your priorities, in fact get hold of “Khabar Dushman ki” first. You have got the appreciation totally wrong;_   *instead of digging in you have gone for an attack which is an offensive operation.* So how many marks should the invigilator give you? If you have got the basic funda of which ops of war to apply, God only help you. *You were not made Chief in one selection board; you went through your paces. Here you want to take Pakistan, along with China in one go, without preparation and ground work. Do ponder over it and get the basics right General.* ?????
I do not mean to offend you, and I do not mean to hurt you, but I only want you to play the game fair and square like you yourself say. The results would be the culmination of your verbal and other battles. You would know that day as to how much more you got to put in to achieve your goal and again as *it used to be drilled into us that JOSH KE SAATH HOSH;* I think you don’t have either. I still wish you luck; I would love to see you fare like a gentleman; I would like you to give a fight to the Captain till the last second of the round. I would request you to *learn to control your verbal horses, which you leave lose especially when you try to speak your mother tongue when vernacular media is around you********
. Are you listening officer, will you fight like a gentleman, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
General JJ Singh’s Video Blasting Capt Amarinder Singh Goes Viral
Gen J J Singh is crossing the line of decency: Preneet Kaur

Soldiers want a shot at change

VETERANS AT WAR Vow to avenge humiliation at hands of Modi govt with their votes

From page 01 CHANDIGARH: The Modi government’s failure to implement one rank-one pension (OROP) principle in its totality could have significant ramifications on the elections in Punjab, which has 1.5 lakh voters in the armed forces and is undertaking the firstof-its-kind exercise of e-voting for soldiers.

HT FILEThe Modi government’s failure to implement ‘one rank, one pension’ in its totality could have significant ramifications on elections in Punjab, which has 1.5 lakh voters in the armed forces.

Brig Harwant Singh (retd), national president of All India Defence Brotherhood (AIDB), says they are marshaling soldiers and ex-servicemen to come out in large numbers to defeat the Akali-BJP combine in Punjab. “I am already canvassing in Sangrur, and we are rallying troops across the state,” says Brig Harwant. “Kautilya said that an enemy’s enemy is a potential friend. True to that principle, we will encourage voters to cast their lot with  the Congress , but not with the BJP or its ally,” he adds, claiming that it was “soldier power” that led to state Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh’s win from Amritsar in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The veterans are sore with the successive state governments for not fulfilling the promises made in their manifestos too. Capt Reet MP Singh (retd), secretary, War Decorated, says he’s stopped reading manifestos. “It’s just a paper, it doesn’t mean a thing,” he growls. Brig Baljit Singh Gill (retd) of War Decorated India fumes that the SAD failed to fulfil its 2012 promise of removing VAT from CSD products.

Congress manifesto’s promise to make ex-servicemen the “guardians of governance” if the party comes to power, however, is igniting some interest. “Capt Amarinder has a soft spot for soldiers. It’s easier to meet him than any other politician,” says Col BS Sohi (retd), adviser to C&C, adding that Amarinder has the mettle to fulfil his promise. “The guardians of governance,” says Amarinder, “will be a group of ex-servicemen from panchayats and blocks to districts, right up to the chief minister. This disciplined force will be used to keeps tabs on the implementation of schemes.”

Amarinder was present at a press conference in New Delhi last month in which Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd) of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), which has been spearheading the fight for OROP, pledged support to the Congress in all the states going to polls. Later, however, it was clarified that he’d made this statement in his individual capacity.

Citing the low victory margins polled during the 2012 polls, Brig Gill says soldiers could prove to be a swing factor this time. “In 2012, at least 15 seats saw a victory margin of 50 to a few hundred votes. This is where the votes of soldiers, serving or retired, can play an important role.”

Yet, Amarinder is the lone ex-serviceman fielded by Congress. The SAD and AAP fare a little better with two candidates each. While the SAD has fielded former army chief Gen J J Singh (retd) from Patiala against Amarinder, and Tejinder Pal Singh Sidhu, an army captain before joining the civil services, from SAS Nagar, the AAP has nominated Capt Bikramjit Singh Pahuwindia, a Shaurya Chakra awardee, from Khemkaran, and Brig Raj Kumar (retd) from Balachaur.

Gen JJ Singh (retd), however, claims the ex-servicemen are being misled. “I still think Akalis are the best bet for soldiers in Punjab.”

Regardless of the arguments, it will all boil down to the number of soldiers who actually vote. As Brig Kiran Krishan (retd) of the IESM puts it: “The deeper issue is whether the serving soldiers, who are quite well-informed these days, will actually get to cast their votes.”

Punjab chief electoral officer V K Singh is hopeful that they will. With the Election Commission registering voters in cantonments as per the People’s Representation Act, 1951, which specifies that soldiers and their families can cast their votes at the place of posting, this poll is likely to see brisk voting in the cantonments as well, says VK Singh. He adds that the EC has carried out the process of registering votes in the cantonments of Amritsar, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, and Gurdaspur, though he did not have the exact number as these soldiers have been registered as general voters.

He is optimistic that the voting percentage of soldiers, which is usually 3%, may jump to 70% in the February 4 polls, given the election office’s efforts to proactively encourage postal ballots and introduce e-voting for five constituencies, which include all the four seats of Ludhiana and one of Jalandhar central. Plus, the election office is hoping for a good response to postal ballots as well amid the growing awareness among soldiers about the need to vote.

Angry General rains fire on Capt

The Patiala royal is upset as I have questioned his track record in the army, where he never spent a single night on any border and remained an ADC with senior officers. GEN JJ SINGH, ex-army chief and SAD candidate from Patiala Urban

PATIALA: Lashing out at Punjab Congress President Captain Amarinder Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal candidate from Patiala and former Army chief General JJ Singh (retd) said that Amarinder has questioned the wisdom of former PM Manmohan Singh by labeling him a “lackluster and average general”.

“Amarinder has raised illogical points over my promotion as Chief of Army Staff, and he has questioned the wisdom of former PM Dr Manmohan Singh and other senior Congressmen, who as part of Cabinet Committee of Appointments, had cleared my appointment as Chief of Army Staff. If Amarinder labels me an ‘average cadet’, he is questioning the wisdom and decision of Dr Manmohan Singh,” said General while rubbishing the charges of Capt Amarinder.

Clearly enraged at being labeled as a “lackluster and average general”, JJ Singh said an average general doesn’t get the highest civilian award from the Government of France or become a Governor. “The Patiala royal is upset as I have questioned his track record in Army, where he never spent a single night on any border, and remained an ADC with senior officers,” he fumed.

“Let me further make an addition, just as he is committing a fraud by claiming to have fought war, he is committing a big fraud by claiming to be an Army historian. The book titled ‘The Monsoon War’ was actually written by Lt Gen Tejinder Shergill (retd), and Amarinder had grabbed it and put his name as the first writer. Everyone knows that he was never on border. As an ADC, he remained in a helicopter or in the convoy of Gen Harbaksh Singh. Everyone knows an ADC’s duty is to keep the General’s bag, stand behind him or serve him a peg (liquor)”, said Gen JJ Singh.

He said that before questioning his credentials, Amarinder must explain his friendship with a Pakistan-based journalist. “What relationship does he have with his Pak-based friend. Voters want to know it,” he thundered. “It’s a serious matter as his friend is a defense correspondent in Pakistan, and this issue pertains to national security,” he added.

He rued that Amarinder had sent his wife Preneet Kaur to Patiala for canvassing. “People this time will punish Amarinder for being absent from the constituency,” he warned.

Sidhu like my son, has joined Cong unconditionally: Capt

TEAM SPIRIT Cricketer­turned­politician Navjot Sidhu shows bonhomie with Punjab Cong chief at first joint press conference after the former joined the party

Everybody is aware that it was Capt Amarinder Singh who saved Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia from the CBI probe into the drug case. BHAGWANT MANN, AAP’s Sangrur MP Amarinder had labelled the ‘Awaaz­e­Punjab’ as the ‘Tonga Party’. Now, he is thanking leaders of the same outfit for joining the Congress. HARSIMRAT KAUR BADAL, Union minister, SAD leader

AMRITSAR: Coming together for the first time after cricketerturned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Congress, party’s Punjab president Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday said Sidhu had joined the party without any pre-conditions.

GURPREET SINGH/HTAt the Amritsar press conference on Thursday, Navjot Singh Sidhu said about his equation with Capt Amarinder Singh: ‘Son is a son and father is a father.’ The Punjab Congress chief said about the former cricketer: ‘I am his wicket­keeper.’

Sidhu, who maintained a low key throughout the press conference, showed respect to Captain with a bow and when asked to say something about Amarinder, he said: “Son is a son and father is a father.”

Capt Amarinder Singh made it clear that party promised nothing to Sidhu, saying, “Sidhu is like my son and I am very happy to have him in the party. Sidhu was not offered anything and he has come unconditionally. I will be in Lambi and see the Badals, he will look after Amritsar.” Amarinder said he had known Sidhu’s family from the days when he (Sidhu) was a child and his joining the party was great.

On a question whether he was the ‘Captain of Sidhu’, Amarinder said, “I am his wicketkeeper.” When Capt Amarinder was asked what if Sidhu was made the chief Minister by the party high command, Sidhu intervened to answer, saying, “If my aunty were a man, she would be uncle.”

Amarinder said Sidhu will be the star campaigner of the party. “In Lambi I will give a bigger thrashing to the opponents,” Sidhu said.

Amarinder later tweeted a photo of the two together: “Addressing our first press conference together. @sherryontopp (Sidhu) is like my son, and I’m glad we’re together in our #BattleForPunjab.”


Captain Amarinder said if elected to form the government, he would get reinvestigated the drugs case in which revenue minister and senior Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia’s name had cropped up and throw behind bars all those found guilty.

On AAP allegation of being soft towards chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Amarinder said he was fighting from Lambi to defeat Badal Senior. “Does the media want me to physically thrash Badal?” he said.

With the party’s nine candidates from the region by his side, Captain Amarinder also exuded confidence that his party will win all the seats in Majha.

Claiming that the state was in ruins under the Badal rule, Captain Amarinder said he needed a clear two-third majority to make a difference to bring Punjab back on the path to progress.

To another question, Amarinder said murmurs of dissent in the Congress triggered by the ticket allocation will be doused soon.

Captain wins Lambi battle, virtually!


CHANDIGARH: Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s release Raees is already making waves in pollbound Punjab.

The movie, set to be released on January 25, has inspired the makeover of state Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh as Punjab’s very own gladiator.

A meme made by the social media team of party poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) shows Amarinder’s face superimposed on action hero Akshay Kumar of Khiladi 786, single-handedly taking on chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal.

he 27-second video has the background score of Raees and ends with Shah Rukh’s dialogue, “Aa raha hoon (I am coming).” The destination is Lambi and date January 18, the day Amarinder filed his nomination papers against Badal.

The video has gone viral on social media and become a WhatsApp and YouTube hit. IPAC’s Rishiraj Singh says the video was made by a social media volunteer to highlight the Lambi battle and show that one Amarinder can take on three rivals.

The Captain seems to have won the Lambi battle, at least virtually!

Gandhis, Manmohan, Azhar on Cong ‘star’ list

CHANDIGARH: With two stars competing for the limelight, the Congress may not need more. Though Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh is named at number eight on the list of 40 star campaigners and Navjot Singh Sidhu is on the 38th spot, the Congress will rely on their star appeal with party’s top leaders, former prime minister Manmahon Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi playing a supporting role.

The dates for rallies of Manmohan, Sonia and Rahul will be finalised by the national unit. A party statement said Sidhu will campaign in Lambi, the seat where Amarinder is taking on CM Parkash Singh Badal, while Amarinder will campaign across the state.

Former cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin is also a part of the list along with actor Sonu Sood, who hails from Moga.

The list includes several Congress chief ministers and former chief ministers from various states, as well as a host of senior national-level party leaders, a party release said in Chandigarh on Thursday. These include Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot as well as former Punjab chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

But former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda is not in the list. Hooda had stated he would not campaign in Punjab over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal row, and Amarinder had said that Punjab Congress will not extend an invite to those “against the state’s interests”.

Among the top All India Congress Committee (AICC) leaders chosen to give a boost to the Punjab campaign are general secretary Ambika Soni, former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and former Union ministers Sushilkumar Shinde and Pawan Kumar Bansal. AICC in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari is already camping in Punjab for the past several days to steer the party campaign in the state, while AICC general secretaries Digvijaya Singh and Mukul Wasnik will also add their weight to the campaign in the coming days.

Rajasthan PCC president Sachin Pilot and UPCC president Raj Babbar have also been listed by the Congress to strengthen the Congress campaign in the state. The list includes several Congress MPs and former MPs, besides All India Mahila Congress president Shobha Oza.

Several Punjab leaders who are contesting too are on the list as the party high command has told them to lend support to the candidates in other areas.

Captain, Navjot Sidhu to hold rallies

FATEH GARH SAHIB: Despite Congress having faced protests in Amloh constituency by its rebel Jagmeet Sahota, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Captain Amarinder Singh has chosen the segment for his first campaign rally after filing the nomination from Lambi on Wednesday.

HT PHOTOKaka Randeep Singh addressing party workers in Mandi Gobindgarh on Thursday.

District Congress president Harinder Bhambri, who was a ticket contender from the same seat, informed on Thursday that Captain will hold a rally in the industrial town of Mandi Gobindgarh on Saturday, in support of the sitting MLA and candidate Kaka Randeep Singh. Star campaigner Navjot Singh Sidhu will follow next, added Bhambri.

Bhambri held a meeting with party workers here on Thursday and assigned duties for the rally. Meanwhile, Randeep’s wife Behishta Singh was busy in doorto-door campaign along with Neelam Rani, secretary, Punjab Mahila Congress .

Earlier, the erstwhile PPP contestant from the constituency, Jagmeet Sahota, had protested against the candidate when Congress chose Randeep Singh over Sahota in December last year. He rebelled and decided to contest as an independent candidate.

“If Capt comes here, people will ask him why he kept on befooling people, choosing outsiders every time,” said Sahota.

Returning officer impounds 13 SAD publicity vans in Moga

MOGA: The sub-divisional magistrate (SDM)-cum-returning officer (RO) Moga Charandeep Singh, impounded 13 publicity vans belonged to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, for violating the model code of conduct on Thursday.

HT PHOTOThe vehicles bearing flexes of SAD­BJP alliance in Moga on Thursday.

As per the information, a convoy of at least 13 vans installed with flexes and hoardings carrying pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal were spotted by RO near sub-jail in Moga.

“Taraki di bani rahe raftaar, Ik var Akali-Bhajpa Sarkar (To continue the pace of developments, vote for SAD-BJP once more),” read the hoardings on the vans.

Sources said that these vans were on the way to the Jalalabad, which is Sukhbir’s constituency, to carry out promotional activities there.

“When I stopped the vans and asked for the permission documents to carry out election publicity material, the drivers were failed to show any documents after which I called for the flying squad team and district transport officer Moga,” said Charandeep.

The RO said that as the vans were not canvassing for any particular candidate or promoting the party, he has directed the DTO Gurwinder Singh Johal to take action for violating the code of conduct. According to rules, no vehicle can carry out any kind of publicity of any party or candidate during the model code of conduct without the permission of chief electoral officer (CEO).

Johal said that he has impounded the vehicles after the drivers failed to show any documents, including the registration certificates and driving licenses and has given them time to get the documents.


Tejas to debut on R-Day

Tejas to debut on R-Day

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 19

Indigenous fighter jet, Tejas, has finally come of age. It will make its debut during Republic Day flypast on January 26.Tejas would fly over the Rajpath in New Delhi during the parade, said Air Commodore Rajiva Ranjan, Principal Director, Air Defence. It will lead the display formation of fighter jets of the IAF inventory. The IAF will use three Tejas, which are designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the DRDO and produced by public sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.The IAF has contracted 123 Tejas in various configurations; the first lot has been inducted. It will be after three decades that a homemade jet will fly during the Republic Day parade. The last time an indigenous fighter jet was part of Republic Day, it was in 1980s when HF-24 Marut, a 1960s’ German-designed plane was part of the flypast. Marut notably took part in the battle of Laungewala in 1971.A team of Tejas has been forward located at the IAF base Nal, near Bikaner. It will fly in from there and return to its temporary base. Tejas was inducted into 45 Squadron the ‘Flying Daggers’ on July 1, 2016. It’s based in Bangalore.‘Tejas’ is the first advance fly-by-wire (FBW) fighter aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in India. It has flown more than 3,000 sorties and 2,000 hours without any accident. It’s equipped with state-of-the-art satellite-aided inertial navigation system. It has a digital computer-based attack system and an autopilot. It can fire air-to-air missiles, bombs as well as precision-guided munitions.The next version of Tejas will incorporate Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, improved, better stand-off weapons, air-to-air refueling capability, new generation Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar and an integrated advanced electronic warfare suite.Besides Tejas, as many as 34 aircrafts of the IAF will be part of the Republic Day flypast. There will be 19 fighters, 11 helicopters and four transport aircrafts enthralling the public this year. UAE crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the chief guest.


I will be his wicketkeeper, says Capt in first press conference with Sidhu

I will be his wicketkeeper, says Capt in first press conference with Sidhu
Sidhu did not put any condition while joining the party, says Capt Amarinder. Tribune photo: Vishal Kumar

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 19

Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday said his party was aiming for two-third majority in the Assembly elections, and the incumbent SAD-BJP alliance will manage to win only 10 to 20 seats.Addressing the media along with newly-inducted member Navjot Singh Sidhu for the first time here, Amarinder said the people of Punjab were fed up with the SAD and want to dethrone the government.Former BJP MP Sidhu hinted at playing ‘second fiddle’ ‘to Capt Amarinder in his maiden innings of Assembly polls.It was also for the first time that Sidhu refrained from answering queries posed to him. When asked to comment over PM Modi’s demonetisation move, Sidhu said, “When Congress president is here who am I to speak”.Setting aside speculations of alleged cold war over the post of ‘chief minister’, Amarinder made it clear that the Sidhu couple joined the Congress unconditionally though they would play a vital role in the party, if voted to power.Unlike in 2012, the Congress has been late in announcing its CM face.Sidhu’s body language indicated that he was prepared to start his political innings under his new ‘captain’.    Amarinder volunteered to be his wicketkeeper. “As wicketkeeper I will be there to catch him in slips”, he said.When Amarinder was asked if he would accept Sidhu as the chief minister, Sidhu bounced back with his one-liner. ‘No ifs and buts…if my aunt were a man, she would have been my uncle…AAP disclosed that they offered me CM’s chair, did I accept it?”Going back in nostalgia, Amarinder said, “I knew Sidhu family since his father was Patiala district party president and Sidhu was a little boy. He is like my son and I am happy that he is now part of us,” he said.The Congress is set to face a tough electoral battle with the ruling SAD-BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party when the state goes to polls on February 4.The major focus is on Lambi where Capt Amarinder is to take on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.“I moved in Malaut and Lambi constituency and got immense support. We are getting overwhelming response from everywhere and we are confident to win with a two-third majority to flush out the SAD-BJP and form our government,” he said.Taking AAP as no threat, he said “Punjab is for Punjabis. How come ‘outsiders’ establish themselves and hold the reigns.