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India News Politics Punjab

Hardliner Simranjit Mann thanks militants for Sangrur win

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill tweeted, “Result of Sangrur, Punjab bypolls must serve as an alarm bell for all the stakeholders of Punjab.”…reports Asian Lite News

Simranjit Singh Mann, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate who won the bypoll from Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s home turf Sangrur, attributed his victory to Khalistani militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and said he would raise the issues of “Indian Army’s atrocities in Kashmir” in parliament.

Mann, who defeated the Aam Aadmi Party, or AAP, candidate, said he would also flag the “killing of tribal people in Bihar and Chhattisgarh calling them Naxalites”.

The Congress expressed concern over his election, with party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeting. “Democracy lost today in Sangrur”. “Punjab can’t be pushed back in the blind alley of violence and terrorism. If what is reported is true, Democracy lost today in Sangrur,” tweeted Surjewala.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill tweeted, “Result of Sangrur, Punjab bypolls must serve as an alarm bell for all the stakeholders of Punjab.”

“The mandate given by people is always supreme and this time it has tipped in favour of Simranjit Singh Mann. However, Mann’s ideology has proven toxic for Punjab and our nation in the past. His Khalistani agenda is a threat to the peace and integrity of Punjab and country,” tweeted Congress’s Ravneet Singh Bittu.

Will Mann enter Parliament with Kirpan again?

In 1999 when the bespectacled public school-educated former IPS officer was elected from Sangrur, he was allowed to enter the Lok Sabha by donning the sword, his trademark.

But in 1989 when Mann, a long-time supporter of Khalistan movement who said Sikhs are not terrorists and they are fighting for a cause, was elected with a record margin of over four lakh votes from the Tarn Taran Lok Sabha seat he was debarred from entering the Lok Sabha carrying his sword and he failed to attend the House.

Mann, who built up his campaign over the recent killing of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala, attributed his win to the youth, Khalistani militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was killed during Operation Bluestar that was carried out by the Indian Army in June 1984 to flush out militants hiding in the Golden Temple complex, and all ‘shaheeds’ (those killed during militancy).

His close aides said that among Mann’s topmost priorities would be to secure the release of a large number of Sikh youths languishing in jails for years.

Convent educated and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, Mann, who on Sunday defeated AAP candidate Gurmail Singh by 5,822 votes, has been critical of the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership for doing nothing for those who have been languishing in jails without any trial.

He’s also strong advocate for long-pending demands of Punjab, which include river water sharing, handing over of Punjabi speaking areas and the transfer of Chandigarh.

Three-time Member of Parliament, Mann resigned from the IPS in 1984 and from the Lok Sabha in 1990 after not being allowed to carry a sword inside Parliament.

The bypoll for Sangrur was necessitated following the resignation of Bhagwant Mann, who won the Assembly election in February from the Dhuri constituency and became the Chief Minister.

The bypoll is the first major electoral battle after the AAP’s resounding victory in the state Assembly polls.

ALSO READ-Congress takes ED battle to Parliament

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Mann takes charge of Punjab today

The golden ray of sun has brought a new dawn on Wednesday, said Bhagwant Mann, reports Asian Lite News

Donning traditional ‘basanti’ turbans and stoles, tens of thousands of people, comprising women and the elders, on Wednesday morning started converging ahead of AAP Chief Minister-designate Bhagwant Mann’ swearing-in ceremony in this village of legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, who laid down his life for country’s Independence.

Officials expect a gathering of some 4,00,000 audience for the oath of Punjab’s 18th Chief Minister.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party’s top functionaries will participate in the ceremony.

Mann’s ex-wife Inderpreet Kaur and both their two children, Seerat Kaur and Dilshan Manna, have flown all the way from the US to attend the ceremony. They were separated in 2015 after which the children shifted to the US with their mother.

The ‘pandal’ of the venue with yellow drapes and 1,00,000 chairs has been set up on 40 acres near the Bhagat Singh memorial.

In an appeal, Mann has requested the people across the state to reach Khatkar Kalan, some 80 km from the state capital Chandigarh on the highway to Jalandhar in Nawanshahr district, for the swearing-in ceremony by wearing ‘basanti’ (yellow) turbans and draping yellow shawls or stoles.

“We will colour Khatkar Kalan in ‘basanti rang’ that day,” Mann said in a message.

What is the relevance of ‘basanti’, the colour of spring?

A ‘basanti’ turban or ‘dupatta’ is associated recently with a year-long agitation of farmers against now repealed three farm laws, but also with sacrifice and patriotic spirit. Also the colour signals celebrations, a springtime kite-flying festival.

Activists inspired by the thoughts of Shaheed Bhagat Singh were shouting slogans ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ at the venue. Many of them were seen carrying a photo of the freedom fighter.

AAP registered a landslide victory, winning 92 seats in the 117-seat Punjab Assembly. Mann, who was contesting from Dhuri in Sangrur district, won by a margin of 58,206 votes.

With the deployment of over 10,000 security personnel, the oath-taking venue spreads over 150-acre.

Golden ray of sun brought new dawn

The golden ray of sun has brought a new dawn on Wednesday, said Chief Minister-designate Bhagwant Mann.

In a tweet just ahead of taking oath of office, Mann tweeted in Hindi and Punjabi by saying, “The golden ray of sun has brought a new dawn today. To realize the dreams of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Baba Saheb, the whole of Punjab will take oath today at Khatkar Kalan.”

Mann will become state’s youngest chief minister at the age of 48 in nearly four decades.

AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is attending the searing-in ceremony, congratulated Mann on his success and invited the people to work together for the state’s development.

“Today is a big day for Punjab. In this golden morning of new hope, today the whole of Punjab will come together and take a pledge to make a prosperous Punjab,” he tweeted.

Raghav Chadha, party’s Punjab co-in-charge, tweeted: “Today marks an important day in the history of Punjab as three crore Punjabis will together be sworn in as chief minister along with Bhagwant Mann.”

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is all set to herald a new ‘Inquilab’ or revolutionary spirit, this is what the party that came to power in Punjab by sweeping the assembly polls with a three-fourth majority is indicating.

Mann becomes reason behind father-son reunion

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Bhagwant Mann who will take oath as Punjab Chief Minister on Wednesday has become the reason for the reunion of a father and son who have been separated for seven years.

Interestingly, the run up to this emotional moment has been the security arrangements put in place ahead of the swearing in ceremony of Mann in Khatkar Kalan village of Bhagat Singh.

Jaswinder Singh, son of Devinder Singh, a resident of Faridkot district ran away from the house seven years ago. Even as his family members tried a lot to find him, they could not locate him.

After this, a case was registered in the police station.

However, recently, Devinder’s son was spotted while he was setting up chairs at the swearing-in venue. As the swearing-in ceremony is an important event, the police were collecting information on every individual for verification, and Jaswinder was identified during that exercise.

When ASI Balwinder Singh of Nawanshahr inquired about him at his house, it was revealed that their son had left the house seven years ago.

When the family reached Khatkar Kalan, they met their son. Eventually, Devinder himself came to pick up his son at the venue and thanked the policemen.

Jaswinder Singh said he was working at the ceremony venue for the last five days. “Before that, I used to do crockery work. I was angry for some reason… and that’s why I had left home.”

ALSO READ: After Punjab win, AAP eyes Himachal

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BJP, AAP script history in UP, Punjab

As per the early trends in UP, the saffron party was leading on 155 seats and AAP ahead with 90 seats in Punjab, reports Asian Lite News

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party are set to script history in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab respectively. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath became the first BJP chief minister of the state to be elected for a second term in the country’s largest and most populous state.

As per the early trends in Uttar Pradesh, the saffron party was leading on 155 seats while Samajwadi Party was ahead on 97. The Bahujan Samaj Party didn’t seem to woo the voters, as it was leading on only 6 seats. The Congress party continued to show its dismal performance and was leading on only 4 seats.

The Assembly polls for 403 seats spread over 75 districts were held in seven phases between February 10 and March 7. More than 3.75 lakh voters exercised their franchise using ballot papers. The state’s Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla said that 84 counting centres had been set up across Uttar Pradesh.

AAP sweep in Punjab

In Punjab, the multi-cornered electoral battle is probably heading for a comfortable victory for the AAP as the early trends gave an edge to the Bhagwant Mann-led party over the ruling Congress. The Shiromani Akali Dal was coming as the third party.

The exit polls had predicted a landslide victory for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab. A total of 1,304 candidates, including 93 women and two transgenders, are in the fray. The state recorded a voter turnout of 71.95 per cent, the lowest percentage compared to the voting percentage in three previous Assembly polls.

Prominent faces who were trailing in the first two hours of counting of ballots included five-time former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from his bastion Lambi; Congress chief ministerial candidate and incumbent Charanjit Singh Channi on both seats — Chamkaur Sahib, a reserved seat that he has won three consecutive times, and Bhadaur in Barnala district; and Congress state unit chief Navjot Sidhu from Amritsar (East), the seat that came into being after 2012 delimitation and has backed Sidhu and his namesake wife — Navjot Kaur.

Congress rebel Capt Amarinder Singh, whose fledgling Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) is contesting the polls in alliance with the BJP and SAD (Sanyukt), is trailing from his ‘royal’ bastion Patiala (Urban).

AAP’s chief ministerial face and sitting MP Bhagwant Mann is leading from Dhuri, the seat from where he’s trying luck for the first time.

Sanyukt Samaj Morcha chief and its chief ministerial face Balbir Singh Rajewal is also trailing in Samrala. AAP’s first-timer Jagtar Singh is leading on that seat.

Counting for the 117 Assembly constituencies started at 8 a.m. Postal ballots were counted first.

A three-tier security system has been put in place.

The polls for the 117 Assembly constituencies were held on February 20 and a total 1,54,69,618 voters exercised their right to franchise.

The election results can be obtained from the official website of CEO Punjab — ceopunjab.gov.in or results.eci.gov.in. Also, results can also be obtained from voter helpline mobile application.

As per exit polls, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP is emerging as a major contender, while the Congress is struggling hard to retain power.

In the 2017 elections, the Congress had won an absolute majority by winning 77 seats in the 117-member assembly and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years.

The AAP had emerged as the second-largest party, winning 20 seats.

SAD won 15 seats, while the BJP, which had a coalition government with the Akali Dal in Punjab from 2007 to 2017, secured three seats.

Goa set for close finish

In Goa, the exit polls had tipped a keen contest between the ruling BJP and the Congress and Goa Forward alliance, with neither being able to reach the magic figure of 21 in a 40-member state Assembly. However, the trends showed the grand-old party — Congress — ahead of its arch-rival BJP while the much-hyped AAP, as per the early trends, didn’t seem to impress the electorate at all as it was not leading on any seat.

Nearly 79 per cent voters cast ballots in the February 14 polls in Goa.

ALSO READ: AAP scoops Punjab

BJP landslide in Manipur

In Manipur, as per the early trends, the saffron party is heading for a landslide victory. According to the election officials, around 89.3 per cent of the 20,48,169-strong electorate cast their votes in the two-phase election to the 60-member Manipur Assembly on February 28 and March 5. This year’s voting percentage was higher than the 2017 and 2012 Assembly elections, when 86.4 per cent and 79.5 per cent electorate had exercised their franchise respectively.

In Uttarakhand, even as the BJP is leading in the early trends, it is still hard to predict the results as the Congress party is not much behind. The new-entrant AAP, like Goa, has failed to make any impact on the voters so far.

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India News Punjab

AAP scoops Punjab

Punjab Lok Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh is also trailing at second place after second round of counting….reports Asian Lite News

In early trends, the AAP crossed majority mark with 79 seats at 9:45 AM in the 117 Punjab Assembly for which majority mark is 59, as per Election commission reports.

Congress’ Navjot Singh Sidhu was trailing at second place from Amritsar East Assembly constituency.

Punjab Lok Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh is also trailing at second place after second round of counting.

Charanjit Singh Channi was trailing from Chamkaur Sahib.

As per ECI, Congress had 14 followed by SAD (7).

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu was trailing on the second position in Amritsar East constituency behind AAP’s Jeevan Jotbkaur.

Navjot Sidhu

Counting for 117 assembly seats in Punjab began at 8 am across state on Thursday.

Exit polls on Monday predicted a clear victory for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab with the scale of the party’s victory varying across various surveys.

AAP’s Chief Ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann residence in Dhuri is decorated with flowers ahead and Jalebi preparation had begun even before the counting had started.

If AAP wins Punjab, it will be the party’s maiden victory in the state and a vast improvement from its performance in the 2017 elections when it had finished second behind Congress.

Congress went into the polls having battled factionalism and anti-incumbency. The party changed its chief minister in September last year even as new Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu hinted about his own chief ministerial ambitions. The Congress finally declared Charanjit Singh Channi, the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab, as its chief ministerial candidate days before the polling on February 20.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, which had broken off its alliance with BJP over three farm laws that were eventually repealed, tied up with Bahujan Samaj Party for the assembly elections.

It is the first time that BJP fought over 65 seats in Punjab. It tied up with former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and SAD (Sanyukt) led by SS Dhindsa. BJP leaders have talked of putting up a strong performance in the polls.

Punjab recorded an average voter turnout of 65.50 per cent on February 20 compared to over 77 per cent in 2017. (ANI)

ALSO READ: BJP leads in UP

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India News News Punjab

Dalit women in Punjab shun caste vocations to knit a different life

It wasn’t easy for Gurmeet Kaur, a Dalit Sikh from Punjab, to smash the long legacy of caste-based discrimination. The 55-year-old, like many other Dalit women, worked at the homes and farms of upper-caste — Jat Sikhs…writes Arun Sharma and Sukhcharan Preet

But, in 2016, Gurmeet realised that this work was not her only destiny. Along with several other Dalit women of Sukhpura Mour village in Barnala district, she was able to break free from the shackles of caste vocations through knitting.

This knitting group in Sukhpura Mour comprises 18 women. Clothing companies in Ludhiana — a major hub of hosiery — place orders for sweaters with this group and provide them with wool. They are paid per sweater. The women divide work amongst themselves based on the availability of knitting machines.

At present, only seven women in the village of nearly 2400 have knitting machines while the rest sew the woolens. Women owning a machine get Rs 50 to Rs 60 per completed sweater. The ones without a machine help out in sewing the knitted pieces. They are paid Rs 15 to Rs 20 per piece.

While the women work within a framework of mutual understanding, they are not organised or registered as an SHG. A self-help group is eligible for many services from banks, including loans on low-interest rates. The group in the village instead easily avails loans from local money lenders and are able to repay them on time due to ample orders.

The group was founded by Saravpreet Kaur 15 years ago. A non-Dalit, she was married off at the age of 19 and witnessed extreme poverty. To make ends meet, the young woman decided to start a knitting business. With the help of her parents, she was able to procure a knitting machine by availing a loan of Rs 12,000 from a village moneylender.

Later, Saravpreet purchased another machine with her own money. Soon more women from marginalised backgrounds joined in. Today 13 out of 18 members in the group are Dalits. However, the women claim that there have been no tensions due to the caste composition of the group. The women in the village have almost forgotten their caste division and work together to earn a living.

Dalit women in Punjab shun caste vocations to knit a different life

When the group started 15 years ago, the women used to only knit sweaters for locals. Soon they came to know that the hosiery units from Ludhiana outsource work. These women then reached out to some of the units in Ludhiana and were initially given a small order, which they completed in time. Now they don’t require any marketing as they are directly connected with the factories in Ludhiana and get orders regularly.

Every few months, the women with machines visit units in Ludhiana, 70 km away, accompanied by their male relatives. They deliver the finished goods and are allotted a fresh quota of wool for new orders. The business thrives through the year, as big brands continue giving orders even during summers so that finished products can be stocked for winters.

Vandana Sharma, a senior fashion designer at Arora Knitfab, Ludhiana told 101Reporters that many units, plagued by labour issues, outsource this work to local women in different parts of Punjab. “This benefits both the manufacturing units as well as these women who are able to earn a living. This process also helps in empowering women financially,” added Sharma.

Sharma’s belief resonates with Gurmeet who, as a former domestic worker, earned Rs 2,500 per month. “My husband was a daily wager who used to earn nearly Rs 5,000. However, three years ago, he had to leave work due to his old age. Health issues, including my knee problems, further drained us, and I got a sewing job from two women who own knitting machines in our village,” said Gurmeet. Though she still cannot walk properly due to her bad knee, she now earns nearly Rs 8,000 per month.

Some women have also purchased knitting machines, costing almost Rs 25,000, through micro-financing companies operating in the area. During the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, payment of these loans became a significant hurdle. There were very few orders from hosiery companies in Ludhiana.

Another member, Rani Kaur, 50, a Dalit woman from neighbouring Kothe Nimwale village, told 101Reporters that she purchased the knitting machine for Rs 22,000 two years ago. Like thousands of other Dalits in Punjab, she was an agricultural labourer before starting her own business. “I used to earn Rs 5,000 per month by working for nearly 10 hours on the landlord’s field. However, I now earn around Rs 18,000 on an average in a month. I also have two helpers who sew the knitted clothes. I pay them Rs 18 per piece,” said Rani.

ALSO READ: India sends wheat to Afghanistan via Pakistan

During the lockdown, Rani said that she struggled to pay the loan she had taken from a local money lender for the knitting machine as there was no work and no income. “But, I somehow managed to surviv that period,” she added.

The pandemic has worsened the financial insecurities amongst Dalits, who comprise 32 per cent of the population in Punjab — the highest in any state. Dalit women, especially in the Malwa region of Punjab, where both Rani and Gurmeet live, have faced excessive discrimination for years. NGOs and organisations working for Dalit women have claimed that harassment at work is common for these women.

Meanwhile, an upper-caste Sikh, Saravpreet Kaur, believes that awareness and empowerment through work can end discrimination to a large extent. “We work as a group with no caste-based stratification. There are women, including Dalits, who own machines, and others who sew the parts of the clothing. Both go hand in hand, and one is incomplete without the other,” she said.

The group plans to buy more machines in the coming months and provide employment to others in the surrounding villages. “Getting a loan is easy. It is more difficult is to convince Dalit women that their life is beyond the fields and homes of landlords. Once they understand this, there would be no dearth of work and money for Dalit families,” said Rani Kaur.

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India News Punjab

Congress appoints Hooda, Shukla as special observer for Punjab

The prominent faces in the polls are Channi (Congress), 58; Mann (AAP), 48; Sukhbir Singh Badal (SAD), 59; Amarinder Singh (BJP-led alliance), 80; and Balbir Singh Rajewal (Samyukt Samaj Morcha), 78….reports Asian Lite News

Congress on Thursday has appointed Rajeev Shukla and Deepender Singh Hooda as special observer for Punjab Assembly elections which goes to polls on February 20.

Congress has picked up incumbent Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate in a bid to “woo” Dalit voters, which has 32 per cent vote share in the state.

In his brief helm of 111 days, Channi built an image of the common man’s Chief Minister by extensively touring the state, occasionally performing ‘bhangra’ on the beats of a ‘dhol’ at public functions, favouring tea at roadside eateries while narrating couplets to the masses, besides accepting ‘siropas’ (religious robes) enroute by stopping his cavalcade.

The key opponents in the state — the AAP, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) combine and the BJP in alliance with Amarinder Singh’s new party Punjab Lok Congress and the Samyukt Samaj Morcha, the fledging coalition of farm unions — are making an issue out of the Congress CM’s face.



The prominent faces in the polls are Channi (Congress), 58; Mann (AAP), 48; Sukhbir Singh Badal (SAD), 59; Amarinder Singh (BJP-led alliance), 80; and Balbir Singh Rajewal (Samyukt Samaj Morcha), 78.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address three public rallies in poll-bound Punjab from February 14, state BJP general secretary Subhash Sharma said on Wednesday.

The rallies will be held in Jalandhar, Pathankot and Abohar towns on February 14, 16 and 17, respectively, covering all three regions of Malwa, Doaba and Majha.

Sharma said the Prime Minister’s rallies would give boost to the confidence of all NDA candidates fighting the election.

In the fray for 117 seats in Punjab are three prominent parties — the ruling Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, and two alliances — the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bahujan Samaj Party (SAD-BSP) and the BJP-Punjab Lok Congress.

Punjab will go to the polls on February 20, while the counting of ballots will be held on March 10.

ALSO READ: Modi to address three election rallies in Punjab

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India News Punjab

AAP begins digital door-to-door campaign in Punjab

Assembly elections in Punjab will be held on February 20 and the counting of ballots on March 10….reports Asian Lite News

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab’s chief ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann on Thursday launched a digital door-to-door campaign from Amritsar.

He said people can give a missed call on 98827 98827 or click on the website https://IkMaukaKejriwalNu.com to ask questions on 11 important issues of Punjab directly from party’s nation convenor Arvind Kejriwal and others.

After giving a missed call, a message from AAP will be sent on people’s mobiles. With a click, Kejriwal and Mann will digitally knock on their door to know their questions.

People can ask questions on 11 topics, comprising electricity, women safety, law and order, agriculture, health, drug trafficking and unemployment. Both Mann and Kejriwal will answer their questions.

Mann said the people of Punjab are fed up with the corrupt politics of traditional parties, hence they want change now. “AAP is the only hope for the people for change. Our candidates know the problems of Punjab better as they are educated, qualified, and belong to ordinary families.”

About 2 crore voters of Punjab had voted the Congress, led by Amarinder Singh, to a landslide victory in the 2017 Assembly election giving the party 77 seats in the 117-member Vidhan Sabha.

It later won three more seats in the bypolls held in October 2019, taking its strength to 80.

Assembly elections in Punjab will be held on February 20 and the counting of ballots on March 10.

Won’t retire till Punjab rid of corrupt politicians: Amarinder

Launching yet another scathing attack on the Congress over the nomination of Charanjit Singh Channi as chief ministerial candidate even after his kin was “caught with mafia earnings”, Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) chief Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday declared that he will not retire till he will get the state rid of such corrupt people.

The former Chief Minister expressed surprise at his former party, the Congress, fielding all MLAs involved with the sand mining mafia as candidates in these Assembly polls and termed it a clear endorsement of widespread corruption in the party.

Stating that he had decided to ally with the BJP and continue to work for Punjab, in the interest of its peace and security, Amarinder expressed concern over the threat from across the border as well as the recent sacrilege incidents in the state.

“We will not let the social fabric of Punjab be destroyed,” said Amarinder, terming the recent spate of sacrilege incidents in the state, including at Darbar Sahib and a Patiala temple, as unfortunate and aimed at dividing the society.

Addressing a series of public meetings in support of PLC and BJP candidates from Sanaur and Banur towns, Amarinder pointed out that Channi’s nephew, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, had reportedly admitted that the Rs 10 crore seized from his possession was earned from illegal sand minings as well as transfers and postings. “How can Channi then claim to be a poor aam aadmi!” he said.

Asserting that he planned to continue fighting for Punjab and the nation, the PLC chief said with security paramount for the border state, his party’s alliance with the BJP would help fulfill their collective responsibility to make India secure.

ALSO READ: Modi to address three election rallies in Punjab

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Punjab needs NDA govt for security, economic revival: Captain

Addressing a function organized by the District Bar Association here, two-time Chief Minister Capt Amarinder said India faced grave security challenges from the ‘China-Pakistan-Taliban’ nexus….reports Asian Lite News

Punjab Lok Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said the state needed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for security as well as economic revival.

He also criticized the Congress party’s decision to nominate Charanjit Singh Channi as the Chief Ministerial candidate despite serious allegations of corruption after seizure of Rs 10 crore from the possession of his nephew.

Addressing a function organized by the District Bar Association here, two-time Chief Minister Capt Amarinder said India faced grave security challenges from the ‘China-Pakistan-Taliban’ nexus.

“The challenge will be greater for Punjab for being at the forefront with a 600-km long border,” he said, while adding, “We need a government that will take the security challenge seriously and work in close coordination with the Central government.”

He gave details of the highly sophisticated drones being used by Pakistan to smuggle weapons, drugs and counterfeit currency to this side of the border. He criticized Chief Minister Channi for “senseless” opposition to the extension of the operational jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF), which was the need of the hour.

Referring to the economic situation prevailing in the state, Amarinder Singh said, while the GDP of Punjab was Rs 5.25 lakh crore, 70 per cent of it was borrowed. He said it is a humongous task to come out of this debt trap, which cannot be possible without cooperation and support from the Central government.

The former Chief Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was going to be there, at least, for another seven years. “We must have a government in Punjab that will work with him as that is the only way out,” he added.

Capt Amarinder’s fledgling Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) is contesting the polls in alliance with the BJP and SAD (Sanyukt), an Akali Dal rebel.

He is contesting from his bastion Patiala (Urban), the seat that he has won for four consecutive terms since 2002 when he first contested.

In 2017, Capt Amarinder, 80, polled 72,217 votes against nearest rival Balbir Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party, who got just 19,852. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate and former Army chief Gen J.J. Singh (retd) got just 11,613 votes. Gen Singh is now with the BJP.

Punjab will go to the polls for the 117 Assembly seats on February 20.

ALSO READ: Congress picks Channi as CM face in Punjab

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India News Politics Punjab

Congress picks Channi as CM face in Punjab

Getting emotional on the announcement of his name, Channi said that he has always been honest, never took a penny from anyone, and will continue to work honestly…reports Asian Lite News

Just two weeks ahead of Assembly polls in the Congress-ruled Punjab, party leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday ended months of suspense by announcing incumbent Charanjit Singh Channi as the party’s Chief Ministerial face for the polls.

Accepting the decision, state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was in the race, hugged Channi on the stage as Gandhi announced his name after over 45 minutes of his speech, televised across the 117 Assembly seats.

Political observers believe the decision of the Congress to go to the polls in the state, which is witnessing a five-cornered contest, under the leadership of three-time legislator Channi, the state’s first Dalit Chief Minister, is to woo the Dalit Sikh votes that constitutes 32 per cent Scheduled Caste population in the state, the country’s largest.

“The people of Punjab have said, not me, the thought is theirs, not mine, that they want a person from a poor household as the CM. We want someone who understands poverty, hunger, and fears of the poor. Punjab’s CM candidate is Charanjit Singh Channi Ji,” said Gandhi during his address at the ‘Aawaz Punjab Di’ virtual rally.

He praised Channi for his humble background.

Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi said “he is not the PM but a king. Have you seen him helping anyone on the roadside”.

Getting emotional on the announcement of his name, Channi said that he has always been honest, never took a penny from anyone, and will continue to work honestly.

“This is a big battle which I can’t fight alone and I don’t have the money, courage to fight it,” he said, adding, “The people of Punjab will fight this battle.”

Channi became the CM after the unceremonious exit of Amarinder Singh over allegations of being hand-in-glove with the Akalis for not fulfilling the 2017 prominent poll promises — acting with an iron fist against the drug mafia and justice for the sacrilege of 2015 that led to protests and the deaths of two persons in the subsequent police firing.

The Congress announcement of the CM’s face came after the AAP declared comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann as its Chief Ministerial candidate on January 18.

Before the formal announcement by Gandhi, Sidhu said, “I have accepted Rahul Gandhi’s decision…If I am given decision-making power, I will finish the mafia, improve people’s lives. If not given power, I will walk with a smile with whomever you make the CM.”

Responding to the Congress announcement, AAP Punjab co-incharge Raghav Chadha tweeted, “It is indeed sad that out of 3 crore Punjabis, the Congress party chose a person who is accused of illegal sand mining and transfer posting scam as their CM candidate.”

Political observers said that it was a tough task for the party high command to choose Channi, a Dalit Sikh, over Sidhu, a Jat Sikh, in a state with a population caste mix of roughly 32 per cent Dalits, 30 per cent Jat Sikhs and 40 per cent the rest.

“Most of the cabinet ministers and top leaders stood behind Channi owing to his soft approach, easy accessibility and the most important, being the biggest Dalit face. If the high command projected Sidhu as the chief minister’s face, it could upset the party’s Dalit vote bank,” a senior Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.

“After building an image of transferring power from the elite (Capt Amarinder Singh) to the poor, the party can’t ignore Channi’s claim at this stage,” the Congress leader added.

In a bid to woo Dalit voters, Channi last month spent a night at Dera Sachkhand Ballan, a prominent Ravidassia community that has much influence in the Doaba region comprising Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala districts.

In his brief helm of 111 days, Channi built an image of the common man’s Chief Minister by extensively touring the state, occasionally performing ‘bhangra’ on the beats of a ‘dhol’ at public functions, favouring tea at roadside eateries while narrating couplets to the masses, besides accepting ‘siropas’ (religious robes) enroute by stopping his cavalcade.

The key opponents in the state — the AAP, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) combine and the BJP in alliance with Amarinder Singh’s new party Punjab Lok Congress and the Samyukt Samaj Morcha, the fledging coalition of farm unions — are making an issue out of the Congress CM’s face.

Now the prominent faces for the parties are Channi (Congress), 58; Mann (AAP), 48; Sukhbir Singh Badal (SAD), 59; Amarinder Singh (BJP-led alliance), 80; and Balbir Singh Rajewal (Samyukt Samaj Morcha), 78.

11L people viewed Rahul’s virtual rally

A virtual rally in Punjab titled “Aawaz Punjab Di” addressed by former Congress President Rahul Gandhi from Ludhiana has broken all records after its live telecast was viewed by 11 lakh people on social media, according to the party.

The virtual rally was held on Sunday. Congress Social Media Head, Rohan Gupta said, “The unique thing about the rally was the large audience of more than 90,000 people, who watched the rally live, simultaneously at the same time on the Facebook page of Rahul Gandhi. With the current views of 8.8 lakh, 42,000 comments, 1.1 million reach and 6000 shares, making it one of the most successful virtual rallies.”

The rally was telecast on virtual mediums or social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube along with live LED screens across all districts of Punjab.

The party claimed 90,000 live views on Facebook Live are unprecedented for any political leader in India, showing the massive impact and curiosity about the rally.

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Rahul may announce Punjab CM’s face on Feb 6

In his previous visit, Rahul Gandhi had assured workers that the party will decide CM candidate well ahead of the February 20 polling….reports Asian Lite News

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is likely to announce the chief minister’s face in his virtual address from Ludhiana city in Punjab on February 6, sources said on Thursday.

This will be his second visit to the state in less than a week.

In his previous visit, Rahul Gandhi had assured workers that the party will decide CM candidate well ahead of the February 20 polling.

With his assurance a power struggle is on between party state President Navjot Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi, the first Dalit Chief Minister of a state that is home to 32 per cent Scheduled Caste population, the country’s largest, to be the chief ministerial candidate.

Currently, voters have been getting tele-calls to give their opinion as to who should nominate the Congress as its chief ministerial candidate.

In the fray for 117 seats in Punjab are three prominent parties — the ruling Congress, the opposition Aam Aadmi Party and the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, and two alliances — the SAD-BSP and the BJP-Punjab Lok Congress.

Punjab will go to polls in a single phase on February 20 and the counting of votes will take place on March 10.

ALSO READ: AAP hails probe into illegal sand mining allegations against Channi