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.”
WILL REINVESTIGATE DRUGS CASE: CAPT
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!
A MEME MADE BY THE SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM OF CONG STRATEGY FIRM HAS GONE VIRAL ON TWITTER AND WHATSAPP
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.