After registering an impressive victory in the municipal corporation elections in Moga by winning 24 wards out of 50, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is now fighting another political battle within the party. A tussle is going on between Akali minister Tota Singh and Akali MLA Joginder Pal Jain to elect the new mayor of their choice.
The local SAD is split between the camps led by Dharamkot MLA Tota Singh and Moga legislator Jain. Enjoying the support of 12 councillors each, both are busy wooing the 17 independent councillors, whose support is vital to achieve majority.
Claiming the support of 15 Independents, Tota Singh’s son Barjinder Singh Brar, former president of the local municipal council (later upgraded to corporation), said their group’s tally was 27, even without the support of the 12 councillors of the Jain group and eight of ally BJP.
Jain, who is seeking the mayor’s seat for his son Akshit, said the Akalis had won 24 seats in all, besides the eight won by the BJP, so there should be no hitch in electing Akshit as Moga’s first mayor. Both Tota Singh and Jain have approached Punjab deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal with their claims to the mayor’s post.
Sources said all councillors backing the Jain group were paraded in Ludhiana on Friday at the residence of PWD (public works department) minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, who was the party incharge for the Moga MC elections.
Meanwhile, three newly-elected Akali councillors held a meeting on Friday at the residence of fellow councillor Narinderpal Singh Sidhu, known as a Jain loyalist. Seven independent councillors were also present there, besides Akali councillor Gurminderjit Singh Bablu, private assistant to Tota Singh. During the meeting, Sidhu alleged that Akshit Jain was not capable of handling the administration of the municipal corporation.
He added that since several capable Akalis had won their seats, there was no reason to give the mayor’s post to Akshit. “I am myself keen to join the mayoral race,” said Sidhu.
Akali councillors Bhushan Garg, Harwinder Kaur and Jarnail Singh Dunne Ke are among those supporting Sidhu.
When contacted, Joginder Pal Jain said, “I have never projected my son for the mayor’s post .We will obey the order of the party president in this regard.”
Targeting Jain indirectly, Bablu said Moga residents wanted total development, which was possible only if some competent person came forward to serve the people. “Those people who opposed Moga’s elevation to a corporation have no right to lead the MC House. During the last tenure of the local municipal council, Tota Singh’s son Barjinder Singh Brar did very well on the development front. Therefore, I am ready to vacate my seat for Brar’s sake,” said Bablu.