After verbal bombardment, now the poaching of leaders; everything is fair in this battle for the local assembly seat.
Giving a double blow to the rival on Sunday, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) got state Congress delegate Jagroop Singh Takhtupura and former member of improvement trust Sakattar Singh to switch sides, and in a counter reply, the Congress made a dent in the Akali citadel by wining over Ajay Sood, member of the national executive body of the Janata Dal (United).
Takhtupura and Sakattar Singh joined the SAD in the presence of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, while Sood said he was with Congress candidate Vijay Sathi because of his clean image. The JDU leader, who declined to join the Congress formally, said Akali candidate Joginder Pal Jain was an opportunist.
In the last assembly election, socialist leader Sood, loyal to former central minister George Fernandes, managed the campaign of former director general of police PS Gill of the SAD. Takhtupura's reasons for switching were different. "I worked hard for the Congress for 35 years but its leadership ignored me," he said. The Congress had denied him ticket for this election.
"I have joined the SAD without any condition but party president Sukhbir Singh Badal has assured me that my supporters and I will get due respect," said Takhtupura. "With this switch, the Congress campaign for Moga has ended virtually," said Sukhbir. "The Congress leaders from all districts have made a beeline to join the SAD, as they are frustrated, disheartened and demoralised by the ego clashes of leaders in that party."
Sood said he would continue to be part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that included the SAD but he could not support Joginder Pal Jain. "I was a polling agent of former DGP PS Gill in the last assembly election because his family has a gentle background," he said, "while Jain is unacceptable to the SAD workers as candidate."
Jagmeet Singh Brar, member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), welcomed Sood's decision.