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BJP Names 3 More Candidates In Punjab For Lok Sabha Elections 2024

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Parampal Kaur Sidhu
Incumbent MP & Union minister of State Som Prakash’s wife Anita from Hoshiarpur (SC), Ex-IAS Parampal Kaur from Bathinda, and Manjit Singh Manna Mianwind from Khadoor Sahib

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced the names of three more candidates to contest the Lok Sabha elections 2024 from Punjab, which goes to the polls in the last phase on June 1.

With this the party, which is contesting the parliamentary elections in the border state for the first time outside of the alliance with its senior Punjab partner Shiromani Akali Dal, has named candidates to nine of the 13 seats.

Expectedly, Parampal Kaur Sidhu, daughter-in-law of senior Akali leader and former Punjab cabinet Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, who recently resigned from the IAS and joined the BJP along with her husband Gurpreet Singh, Chairman of Bathinda zila parishad, has been fielded by the party from Bathinda.

File photo of Anita with her husband Som Prakash

From Hoshiarpur (SC) seat, which the party has traditionally been contesting as part of the alliance, and from where it won the last two elections in 2014 and 2019, the BJP has replaced its incumbent MP and Union minister of state Som Prakash with his wife Anita Som Prakash apparently on considerations of advancing age and health issues. Som Prakash crossed 75 years of age recently.

Manjit Singh Manna Mianwind

The party has reposed faith in the candidature of BJP district president (Amritsar Rural) Manjit Singh Manna Mianwind from Khadoor Sabha Lok Sabha constituency. A two-time Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA from Khadoor Sahib assembly constituency (2002, 2007), Manjit Singh later moved to the newly constituted Baba Bakala (SC) assembly constituency.

He joined the BJP prior to the 2022 assembly elections in the state after he was denied the SAD ticket from Baba Bakala. However, he lost his security deposit when he joined the fray as a BJP candidate from the same constituency, as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wave swept the state.

The Baba Bakala seat was also won by AAP candidate Dalbir Singh Tong by a big margin. SAD candidate Baljit Singh Jalal Ushman finished a distant third behind Santokh Singh Bhalaipur of the Congress.

 

 

 

 

Kejriwal Fails to Get Immediate Relief From SC In Liquor Policy Case

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File photo of Arvind Kejriwal

Trial court extends his judicial custody till April 23

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Monday 15.04.2024 failed to get immediate relief from the Supreme Court of India on his plea challenging a Delhi High Court order upholding his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and his subsequent remand in connection with the Delhi excise policy case.

Hearing his plea, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta issued notice to the ED directing it to file a reply by April 24. The matter would next be heard in the week commencing April 29.

During the hearing on Monday, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, sought “an extremely short date (Friday)” to begin hearing the petition, which was declined by the court. “We will give a reasonable date… a very short date. But not what you are saying,” the court said, as it also told Singhvi to “reserve your arguments” after he continued to press for an earlier hearing.

Meanwhile, in a related hearing, a Delhi court extended Kejriwal’s judicial custody till April 23.

Kejriwal was produced virtually before special judge Kaveri Baweja of the Rouse Avenue Courts on the expiry of his judicial custody. The Court said it is extending custody till April 23 when judicial custody of co-accused (Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha) is also ending.

Earlier, the Rouse Avenue Courts also sent K Kavitha to judicial custody till April 23 after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did not seek an extension of her three-day police custody and sought 14-day judicial custody instead. The CBI submitted before the court that she did not cooperate with its investigation and “deliberately gave evasive replies contrary to the evidence on record”.

K Kavitha is the daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.

 

Samsung Regains Top Smartphone Maker Slot, As Apple Records Greater Fall In Shipments In 1Q24

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Image Courtesy: Samsung

 

Preliminary data collated by US based premier market intelligence and research organization International Data Corporation (IDC) for the Jan-March 2024 quarter shows that Korean smartphone giant Samsung has once again reasserted its top position in the smartphone market worldwide, dethroning iPhone maker Apple, which had managed to capture the top spot at the end of 2023.

IDC, headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts, shared this information from its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker in a handout posted on its website on Monday.

Apple’s global smartphone shipments reportedly fell by 9.6% in the quarter, from 55.4 million units in the same period last year to 50.1 million units. Samsung’s shipments also fell during this period, but by just 0.7% to 60.1 million units. Apple’s global market share fell to 17.3% from 20.7% a year ago, while Samsung’s fell to 20.8% from 22.5% amid rising sales of Chinese companies Xiaomi and Transsion.

Xiaomi, the third largest smartphone shipper in the quarter, recorded almost 34% rise in sales to 40.8 million units, while Transsion shipments leaped 85% to 28.5 million. OPPO overtook Vivo to claim the fifth spot in the first quarter.

However, striking a note of optimism, the IDC handout noted that the global smartphone shipments increased 7.8% year over year to 289.4 million units in the first quarter of 2024 (1Q24). “While the industry is not completely out of the woods, as macroeconomic challenges remain in many markets, this marks the third consecutive quarter of shipment growth, a strong indicator that a recovery is well underway,” it added.

Ryan Reith, group vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, shared: “As expected, smartphone recovery continues to move forward with market optimism slowly building among the top brands.”

While IDC expects Samsung and Apple to maintain their hold on the high end of the market, it envisions that the resurgence of Huawei in China, as well as notable gains from Xiaomi, Transsion, OPPO/OnePlus, and Vivo will likely have both OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) looking for areas to expand and diversify. In its opinion as the recovery progresses, the top companies can be expected to gain share, as the smaller brands struggle for positioning.

IDC’s research director of its Worldwide Tracker team Nabila Popal adds: “The smartphone market is emerging from the turbulence of the last two years both stronger and changed. Firstly, we continue to see growth in value and average selling prices (ASPs) as consumers opt for more expensive devices knowing they will hold onto their devices longer. Secondly, there is a shift in power among the Top 5 companies, which will likely continue as market players adjust their strategies in a post-recovery world.

“Xiaomi is coming back strong from the large declines experienced over the past two years and Transsion is becoming a stable presence in the Top 5 with aggressive growth in international markets. In contrast, while the Top 2 players both saw negative growth in the first quarter, it seems Samsung is in a stronger position overall than they were in recent quarters,” she concluded.

Channi It Is From Jalandhar, Khaira from Sangrur In Cong’s First List Of 6 Candidates For 2024 Lok Sabha Elections In Punjab

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Charanjit Singh Channi fielded from Jalandhar (SC) lok sabha seat
Dr Gandhi from Patiala; Aujla & Amar Singh retained from Amritsar & Fatehgarh Sahib

The Indian National Congress (INC) has finally named its candidates for six of the 13 Lok Sabha seats from Punjab which is going to the polls in the final phase of the 2024 elections on June 1.

The six have found their names in another list of 10 candidates from Delhi, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh released by the party late on Sunday.

The candidates named for Punjab seats

  • Amritsar – Gurjeet Singh Aujla
  • Jalandhar (SC) – Chranjit Singh Channi
  • Fatehgarh Sahib (SC) – Dr Amar Singh
  • Bathinda – Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu
  • Sangrur – Sukhpal Singh Khaira
  • Patiala – Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi
Gurjit Singh Aujla retained from Amritsar
Dr Amar Singh retained from Fatehgarh Sahib (SC) seat

The party has retained its sitting MPs Gurjeet Singh Aujla and Dr Amar Singh from Amritsar and Fatehgarh Sahib (SC) constituencies, respectively. Former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi has expectedly been fielded from Jalandhar (SC) seat and firebrand party MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, on bail in a 2015 drug haul case, from Sangrur.

There is a special significance attached to Khaira being fielded from Sangrur. He and AAP chief minister of Punjab Bhagwant Singh Mann, who represented the constituency twice in the Lok Sabha from 2014 to 2022 before quitting the seat midway through the second term to contest the 2022 assembly elections in the state, have been involved in a long and bitter running battle of words. In giving him its ticket from the constituency, the Congress appears to be seeking to send a strong message to Mann.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira gets ticket from Sangrur

Khaira has been a three time MLA from Bholath. He began his political career with the Congress and later moved to the AAP in 2015. He remained AAP’s Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly for a year during 2017-18 before being suspended by the party for alleged anti-party activities.

In January 2019, he resigned from the primary membership of the party and floated a new political party Punjab Ekta Party. The same year he resigned from his assembly seat and contested the Lok Sabha elections from Bathinda as a candidate of the Punjab Democratic Alliance. He however lost the election.

He was welcomed back into the Congress fold in June 2021 by then Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh at the height of the leadership crisis besetting the latter. Khaira brought with him two rebel AAP MLAs Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Khalsa ahead of the 2022 assembly elections in the state. He again won the Bholath seat on the Congress ticket.

Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu gets party nod from Bathinda

From Bathinda, the party has placed its faith on four-time MLA from Talwandi Sabo Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, who quit the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) after being suspended for alleged anti-party activities, and returned to the Congress in October 2023.

In Patiala, former AAP MP and cardiologist Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi, who joined the Congress recently, has been given the party ticket. The party’s four-time MP from this constituency and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur had recently quit the party and joined her husband in the BJP. She is now the saffron party’s candidate for the June 1 elections. Dr Gandhi as an AAP candidate had defeated then incumbent Preneet Kaur in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by over 20,000 votes.

Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi is party candidate from Patiala

He was made the AAP parliamentary party leader, but sacked in April 2021 when he spoke out against the expulsion of senior leaders like Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the party’s National Executive and later from the party. He was at that time replaced by party’s national convenor Arvind Kejriwal’s loyalist Bhagwant Singh Mann, the current chief minister of Punjab.

He had later quit the party and launched an outfit of his own called ‘Punjab Manch’. He unsuccessfully contested the 2019 lok sabha elections from the constituency as an Nawan Punjab Party (NPP) candidate, finishing third behind Preneet Kaur of the Congress and Surjit Singh Rakhra of SAD.

Heroic Mom Died Protecting Her Baby From Sydney Mall Stabbing Spree

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CCTV grab of the attacker who went on a stabbing spree in a Sydney mall on 13.04.2024

A grievously stabbed new mother’s heroic dying act in trying to save her 9-month-old baby, which also suffered stab wounds in a mass and indiscriminate knife attack by a lone apparently “mentally ill” man in a Sydney shopping mall in Australia on Saturday, is the subject of administration across the country, which is in mourning over the horrific incident that has left at least six people dead, including the 38 years old woman, and several others injured.

According to media reports, more casualties were avoided by the timely intervention of a woman police officer on duty nearby who rushed alone to scene on getting information of the attack and shot the rampaging attacker dead.

File photo of Sydney mall stabbing spree victim Ash Good with her baby

The woman, later identified as Ash Good, and the baby, Harriet were reportedly among the first ones to be stabbed as the attacker, wearing a sports jersey and shorts, madly ran through at least two levels in the Westfield Bondi Junction Shopping Center with a large knife in hand, randomly chasing and brutally stabbing people.

Profusely bleeding from her stab wounds, Ash ran towards two strangers, later identified as brothers, and thrust her stabbed baby into the arms of one of them, hoping they would save it. Showing great presence of mind amidst the panic, the strangers pulled the stabbed mom and baby into a store and tied their wounds with whatever clothing they could find in an attempt to reduce the bleeding before emergency services reached the scene.

Rushed to hospital, the woman, however, could not survive, and the baby, after emergency surgery, is still serious but in stable condition. Out of the six dead, five were women.

During investigations into the incident, police authorities identified the attacker as Joel Cauchi (40) from Queensland state and linked the attack possibility to Cauchi’s mental health issues. In a statement released through Queensland Police, his family described his actions as “horrific” and said he had mental health issues “since he was a teenager”.

PIO Gopi Thotakura To Become First Indian To Travel To Space As A Tourist

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Image credits: Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has revealed a six-person crew flying on the 7th human flight of its reusable suborbital rocket/spacecraft New Shepard

Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos’ private spaceflight company Blue Origin is preparing to send its crewed reusable suborbital rocket/spacecraft New Shepard on its 25th flight on a date to be decided soon, and one of the six space tourists being taken on it to an altitude of up to 100 km (62 miles) above sea level is an Indian origin entrepreneur, pilot and aviator.

Gopi Thotakura, co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a global center for holistic wellness and applied health, located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia state, United States, is set to become the first Indian to venture into space as a tourist.

The 30 years old, born in Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh, is a graduate of the prestigious Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In addition to flying jets commercially, he has also piloted aerobatic and seaplanes, as well as gliders and hot air balloons. He has served as an international medical jet pilot too. A lifelong traveler, his most recent adventure took him to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in East African country of Tanzania.

Blue Origin recently revealed the six-person crew flying on its NS-25 mission. Besides Gopi Thotakura, the crew includes Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and a former US Air Force Captain Ed Dwight.

Dwight was selected by US President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate but was never granted the opportunity to fly to space.

This mission will be the seventh human flight for the New Shepard program and the 25th in its history. To date, the program has flown 31 humans above the Kármán line, the point above sea level that marks the start of space. Jeff Bezos himself, his brother Mark Bezos and two other private persons were part of the history creating first human flight of the New Shepard reusable rocket/spacecraft on July 20, 2021.

Since then, at 90 years of age, actor William Shatner, who played the stellar role as Captain James Kirk on the epic first Star Trek television series, has been the oldest person to fly to space on the New Shepard rocket/spacecraft.

One of the stated goals of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is to create a future where people live and work in space to benefit Earth. It seeks to preserve Earth by identifying additional material and energy resources, as well as relocating to space the industries that are likely to harm Earth. The company is developing reusable rocket engines and launch vehicles designed to significantly lower the cost and increase the accessibility of space travel.

Blue Origin’s Club For The Future

https://www.clubforfuture.org/

Ending Speculation, Congress Bets On Manish Tewari From Chandigarh LS Seat; Pawan Bansal Loses Age War

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Finally, the Indian National Congress has bet its money on a younger candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2024 from Chandigarh constituency, apparently to counter BJP’s recent decision to make a generational shift in naming its nominee.

Manish Tewari, sitting Congress member of Parliament from adjoining Anandpur Sahib constituency in Punjab and former Union minister, found his name on top of a fresh list of 16 party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections from Chandigarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha released by the party on Saturday, 13.04.2024.

Those named from Himachal Pradesh are state cabinet minister and former Congress stalwart late Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh from Mandi and Vinod Sultanpuri from Shimla (SC).

Manish Tewari, who hails from Chandigarh, has got the party ticket at the expense of another former Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who has represented the constituency in the Lok Sabha four times since 1991, but lost the last two elections consecutively in 2014 and 2019 to star candidate Kirron Kher, the sitting MP, who has for the last few years been under treatment for cancer. She is now 71 years old.

Despite these two reverses,  Pawan Kumar Bansal (75) was widely believed to be the party’s top choice once again, considering his seniority and local popularity. He is also learnt to have been the choice of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is supporting the Congress in the Chandigarh elections as part of a pact which saw the Congress supporting AAP’s successful mayoral election bid in the Municipal Corporation Chandigarh.

But Manish Tewari’s persistent lobbying to get the party ticket from Chandigarh which he had been indulging in for years, and the BJP declaring a younger candidate and former state party president for 10 years Sanjay Tandon (60) as its candidate, appear to have weighed on the party high command while taking the final decision.

Two years younger to Tandon, Manish Tewari has been a two time MP – from Ludhiana (2009-2014) and Anandpur Sahib (2019-2024) – and Union Minister of State (Independent charge) Ministry of Information & Broadcasting from 2012-2014.

Playing an active role in students’ politics from a young age, Tewari remained president of the then Congress (I) affiliated students’ body National Students Union of India (NSUI) from 1988-1993 and then president of Indian Youth Congress (I) from 1998-2000 under the patronage of Rajiv Gandhi.

Having done his schooling from St John’s High School, Sector 26, Chandigarh and Govt. Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 16, Chandigarh, he graduated in Arts from DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh. He later did his Bachelors of Laws from University of Delhi and is a practicing lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.

He has authored several books, including the last one titled ’10 Flash Points: 20 years – National Security Situations That Impacted India’.

His father VN Tewari, an author and professor of Punjab language at Panjab University, Chandigarh, was killed by militants in 1984 while on a walk in Sector 24 of Chandigarh. His mother late Dr Amrit Tewari retired as Professor and head of Department of Dentistry at the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh.

Cautious Shiromani Akali Dal Does Not Name Star Candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal In First List  For LS 2024 In Punjab

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File photo of Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra (right) and Dr Daljit Singh Cheema.

 

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), contesting the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab for the first time without its traditional alliance partner BJP since 1996 and missing its widely popular patriarch Prakash Singh Badal, appears to be unsure of its ground. Its most successful face in the last three elections has not found a place in the first list of seven candidates announced by the party on the auspicious occasion of Baisakhi.

In the first list, the party has not named a candidate from Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency from where former Union minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal has been proving its trump card in the last three elections since 2009.

The list was posted on X by senior party leader and former cabinet minister Daljit Singh Cheema, who himself is going to contest for the first time from the border constituency of Gurdaspur in which his native village Cheema falls.

The others named are:

  • Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra from Anandpur Sahib
  • NK Sharma from Patiala
  • Anil Joshi from Amritsar
  • Bikramjit Singh Khalsa from Fatehgarh Sahib
  • Rajwinder Singh (grandson of late senior leader Gurdev Singh Badal) from Faridkot
  • Iqbal Singh Jhoonda from Sangrur

The party has fielded candidates from the border constituencies of Amritsar and Gurdaspur, which have traditionally been reserved for the saffron party as part of the alliance.

From Amritsar constituency, the grand old Sikh panthic party is trying to play the Hindu card, by giving the ticket to former BJP cabinet minister in the alliance Anil Joshi, who had been expelled by the saffron party for demanding the repeal of the three controversial farm laws in defiance of the party’s then strong stand in favour of the new legislations.

He had later joined the SAD and is currently a member of the party’s core committee and incharge of Amritsar Lok Sabha. In his candidature, the party also appears to be seeking to woo the agitating farmers, in whose favour Joshi had defied his then party line.

He will face up to ruling AAP candidate Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, a minister in the Bhagwant Singh Mann cabinet, and former Indian Ambassador to the USA Taranjeet Singh Sandhu, who has been fielded by the BJP.

Former cabinet minister and an MBBS doctor by training, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, nominated by the party from Gurdaspur, is learnt to have been keen on contesting from Anandpur Sahib constituency, in which he represented the Rupnagar assembly seat from 2012-2017. He remained Education Minister in the Prakash Singh Badal cabinet during this period.

When he was Political Advisor (in the rank of cabinet minister) to Prakash Singh Badal in his earlier tenure as Chief Minister from 2007-2012, he had unsuccessfully contested the Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha seat in 2009, losing to first time Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of assassinated Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

The only other candidate fielded by any of the other major parties for the seat so far is Dinesh Singh ‘Babbu’ of the BJP.

Another party bigwig Prem Singh Chandumajra is again the party pick from Anandpur Sahib, from where the former cabinet minister and three-time MP had lost the 2019 lok sabha elections to Congress candidate and former Union minister Manish Tewari. He had represented the constituency in the previous lok sabha term from 2014-2019 after defeating Congress stalwart and former Union minister Ambika Soni.

His first and second short-lived terms in the lok sabha were from Patiala constituency which he represented from 1996-1998 and again from 1998-1999 during years of political turmoil in the country necessitating repeated elections.

Other major political parties are yet to name their nominees from this seat.

Well known realtor, two-time MLA from Dera Bassi and former Chief Parliamentary Secretary Narinder Kumar Sharma is the party candidate from Patiala Lok Sabha constituency. He faces an uphill task, being up against Congress turned BJP four-time MP and former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur and ruling AAP candidate and Punjab health minister Dr Balbir Singh. The Congress is yet to field a candidate from the constituency but the name of former AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, who recently joined the Congress, is doing the rounds.

PM Promises Early Statehood, Elections In J&K

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally in Udhampur, Jammu & Kashmir, on 12.04.2024 in favour of BJP candidate and Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who is seeking a third straight term from the constituency.
Dares Congress To Declare It Will Restore Art 370

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while promising early restoration of statehood in Jammu & Kashmir and elections to the state assembly has dared the political parties opposed to the abrogation of Article 370, especially the Congress, to declare that they will restore it, and see that the people of the country will not like to see their face.

BJP candidate from Udhampur and Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh having a word with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the election rally in Udhampur.

Addressing a largely attended election rally under tight security arrangements at Udhampur’s Batal Ballian area in favour of Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who is seeking a third successive term as Lok Sabha member from the constituency, Modi thundered that the Congress, National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had created a dilution in the minds of the people of the state that their lives and existence was dependent on the continuation of Article 370 and created a fear psychosis in the country that its abrogation will set the country on fire and the country will lose the state for good .

Udhampur goes to the polls in the first phase of the Lok Sabha 2024 elections on April 19.

The Prime Minister asserted that the people of the state, and the youth especially, have proved them wrong. With the demolition of the wall that Article 370 was, which for six decades differentiated Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of the country, all sections of the people in the state are now happily benefitting from their rights enshrined in the Constitution of India. The state has since then witnessed a transformational change with the return of peace and tranquility and the engine of development reaching to all parts of the territory.

The transformation, he maintained has been so stark that terrorism, separatism, stone-pelting, bandhs, hartals and cross-border firing have ceased to be poll issues in these elections. Mothers in the Kashmir valley are once again enjoying a peaceful sleep, feeling assured that terrorist and separatist forces are no longer able to misguide their sons.

Till 10 years ago there were serious security concerns around organising the Vaishno Devi and Amarnath yatras, which is no longer the case now, he stressed.

Modi reminded the gathering that successive “weak” Congress governments at the Centre had been keeping the construction of the Shahpur Kandi dam project on the Ravi river on the J&K-Punjab border pending, allowing the excess waters of the river flow wastefully into Pakistan. By completing the dam his government has ensured that thousands of farmers in the Kathua and Samba areas will be benefitted by irrigation facilities accruing from the dam, besides providing additional electricity to the territory.

Advocating a strong government at the Centre, he said only a strong government can ensure stability and rapid development in the country. Promising that the next five years will be dedicated to taking development and prosperity in the state to new heights with heavy investment being attracted in setting up industries, development projects and promoting tourism, he cautioned the people against being carried away by the rhetoric of the family-ruled political parties which were bent upon taking the state back to its dark days to perpetuate their personal political interests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAD Leader Maluka’s Kin Join BJP, IAS ‘Bahu’ Could Contest From Bathinda

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Parampal Kaur Sidhu, Punjab IAS officer and daughter-in-law of senior Akali leader Sikandar Singh Maluka, formally being welcomed into the BJP party fold in New Delhi on 11.04.2024. Maluka's son Gurpreet Singh (extreme left in the background) also joined the party.

CM Mann adds twist, says resignation not accepted, mocks ‘biba’ saying first learn to understand proper procedure

For the first time since 1996, the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP are not contesting the elections in Punjab as alliance partners. So what does the lesser partner in the state politics do, it not only starts to poach on other major political parties, but also does not flinch from engineering defections from its senior ex-alliance partner.

After days of speculation, senior SAD leader and ex-cabinet minister Sikandar Singh Maluka’s zila parishad chairman son Gupreeet Singh Maluka and daughter-in-law Parampal Kaur Sidhu, who recently submitted her resignation as IAS officer to the Punjab government, officially joined the BJP in a ceremony in New Delhi on Thursday.

Though Sikandar Singh Maluka, a two time SAD MLA from Rampura Phul in Bathinda district and ex-cabinet minister in the SAD-BJP alliance government, himself continues to remain in the panthic party, the joinings by his family members has clearly sent out signals about his intentions.

Parampal Singh Sidhu is tipped to get the BJP ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections 2024, polling for which is slated to be held in the state on June 1, from Bathinda constituency, the stronghold of three consecutive times MP from the seat and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Though SAD is yet to announce its candidates from any of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, Harsimrat Kaur Badal looks certain to be retained the party candidate from the constituency. The ruling party in the state, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has already entered one of its senior ministers Gurmeet Singh Khudian in the arena anticipating that Harsimrat would be the natural SAD choice from the party’s stronghold.

Soon after the news broke about Parampal Kaur Sidhu formally joining the BJP, in anticipation of her resignation being accepted by the state government, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann added a twist to the story.

He took to ‘X’ and strangely posted on his personal handle informing that “Parampal Kaur’s resignation as IAS officer has not been accepted by the Punjab government.” Literally mocking her he said “the way you were in a hurry to become IAS .. there are certain procedures for leaving it .. please understand the way to submit the resignation .. lest all the life’s earnings get into peril..”

Interestingly, less than a week ago, SAD had included Sikandar Singh Maluka in a 15-member manifesto committee of the party for the parliamentary elections headed by Balwinder Singh Bhundar. Ironically, he is also chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of SAD and is known to have been campaigning for Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda constituency till a day previous to the joinings in the BJP by his son and daughter-in-law.

The father and son are learnt to have been upset with the SAD high command’s decision to deny their claim for Gurpreet Singh Maluka to be fielded from his father’s constituency Rampura Phul and Sikandar Singh Maluka be allowed to contest from adjoining constituency of Maur in the last 2022 state assembly elections. Finally, only the father was granted the party ticket from his traditional seat Rampura Phul. He was swept away in the AAP wave in the state and lost to AAP candidate and Punjabi singer Balkar Singh Sidhu by over 10,000 votes.

Sikandar Singh Maluka first won from Rampura Phul in 1997, and then again in 2012. He lost in 2002 and 2007, and again in 2017 to Congress candidate Gurpreet Singh Kangar. Despite having lost the last two assembly elections – in 2017 and 2022 – Maluka exerts a significant influence in Bathinda constituency as a whole. His son Gupreet Singh Maluka was unanimously elected zila Parishad Bathinda chairman in 2023. He is also vice president of Punjab Olympic Association (POA) and president of the Punjab Kabaddi Association.

His daughter-in-law Parampal Singh Sidhu, a promotee IAS officer inducted into the 2011 batch of the all India service, was managing director of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC) at the time of submitting her resignation.

According to a report in Indian Express, Sidhu, a philosophy and zoology postgraduate, became the first woman block development panchayat officer (BDPO) in Punjab in the early 1990s. Some of her appointments were mired in controversies because these happened in departments oversee by her father-in-law as minister.

In 2013, during the SAD-BJP government, an attempt was made to induct her as a Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officer through the nomination route, but the file was returned by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). During that time, she served as an additional project director in the office of the director general of school education during the tenure of her father-in-law as education minister.

After a cabinet reshuffle, Maluka was assigned the rural development and panchayat department portfolio, leading to Parampal’s appointment as the district development panchayat officer (DDPO) in Bathinda in 2015. On December 1, 2015, she was promoted to deputy director in the panchayat department, and shortly after her case was forwarded to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for induction as an IAS officer through the nomination route.

Joining as a non-state civil services IAS officer on January 15, 2016, during the SAD-BJP rule, her initial posting was as additional deputy commissioner (general) in Bathinda. Despite joining in January 2016, she was given the 2011 batch of IAS considering her prior service length.