The tussle between two senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders of Moga district former agriculture minister and Dharamkot MLA Tota Singh and Nihal Singh Wala MLA Rajwinder Kaur Bhagike reached a new high in Nihal Singh Wala area on Tuesday.
While rejecting the claims of Bhagike that her group had won 45 seats of sarpanches, Tota Singh showed his political strength by organising a meeting at Moga to honour his 44 supporters who were elected sarpanches recently.
The sarpanches claimed that they had won with the support of Tota Singh but Bhagike was trying to befool Akali workers of Nihal Singh Wala area with false claims.
Two days ago, Bhagike had shown her political strength at Lopo village where she had claimed that her group had won 43 seats of sarpanch.
There are 68 villages in Nihal Singh Wala constituency and the SAD candidates won on 50 seats. Tota Singh claimed that 44 panchayats of his group had won the election and he honoured them at Moga. "The Congress candidates had won 17 seats while People's Party of Punjab had won three seats. Only three panchayats of the Bhagike group had won the elections in Nihal Singh Wala constituency and there is no base of the Bhagike group here," claimed the former minister.
Tota Singh said, "Who is Bhagike? She is only an anganwadi worker. My supporter Taksali Akali workers had supported her but now they are being ignored by Bhagike. How can I tolerate it?"
During the special meeting, Tota Singh's supporter sarpanches said they had been working for the SAD since 1977 under the supervision of Tota Singh and how could they support any other leader who did not know the problems of Akali workers.
The two sitting MLAs of the SAD are at loggerheads at Nihal Singh Wala assembly constituency in Moga district. While Tota Singh has his native village at Didar Singh Wala and has considerable influence in the area, Bhagike was elected from this reserved constituency.
It was a major political setback for Bhagike while her 14 loyalist candidates for block samiti were defeated by independents, which were contesting with the support of Tota Singh.
The struggle for political supremacy had reached a flashpoint a few months back during the inauguration of the reverse osmosis system at Rauke Kalan village, where Bhagike did not go as the villagers had invited Tota Singh as the chief guest.
When contacted, Bhagike said she was working for strengthening the Akali Dal under the supervision of chief minister Patkash Singh Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. "I, along with my supporters, will not bear any political interference by any leader in my constituency," she added.