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11 May, 2009

Chandigarh candidates get into public debate

Chandigarh, May 11 (IANS) Just two days before Chandigarh goes to polls in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections, the three main candidates for the lone parliament seat of the union territory participated in an open debate here Monday.
The debate went off quite smoothly and the candidates touched an assortment of national and local issues.
Commencing the debate, minister of state for finance and Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had increased the budget allocation in various sectors like health, infrastructure development and education.
“Poor people of rural India have got employment through the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA),” he said, adding a boost was given to agriculture by waiver of farmers’ debts.
Indirectly referring to his tussle with union territory’s administrator here, Bansal said: “I have to fight with many people for the interests of Chandigarh and I would continue this fight. I can easily escape from controversies by keeping everyone happy but I am steadfast to save the rights of my people.”
Attacking both the UPA government and Bansal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Satya Pal Jain said that both had been failures on all fronts.
“Inflation is at an all time high, farmers are still committing suicide and our prime minister is just like a puppet. He does not have any powers and nobody consults him while taking important decisions,” he alleged.
“Bansal could not bring a single big project in Chandigarh in the last five years. There is no IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), IIM (Indian Institute of Management) or any central university,” Jain said.
The grant package for the families of Sikh riot victims has not been implemented in Chandigarh despite the fact that many victims’ families are residing here, the BJP candidate said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Harmohan Dhawan said that no government in the past had paid attention to the downtrodden sections and slum dwellers of Chandigarh.
He alleged the administration was illegally grabbing the land of farmers and running bulldozers over the houses of poor people, while there were no jobs for the youth.