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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Moga has history of going against the tide

Manpreet Randhawa, Hindustan Times  Moga, February 20, 2013
First Published: 22:14 IST(20/2/2013) | Last Updated: 22:20 IST(20/2/2013)

In the last 14 elections that Moga had witnessed since 1952, the voters of this assembly constituency invariably went against the tide on 12 occasions. It was only twice that the winning candidate from here belonged to the ruling party.

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Malti Thapar of the Congress in 1992 and Tota Singh of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in 1997 bucked this trend to be part of the late Beant Singh government and Parkash Singh Badal government, respectively.

In 1952, before the delimitation exercise, Moga, known as Moga-Dharamkot constituency then, was represented by two candidates - Rattan Singh of the Congress and Devinder Singh of the Akali Dal. Devinder Singh is the father of former justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Mehtab Singh Gill, at whose farmhouse in Charik Bir village, PPCC president Captain Amarinder Singh is currently residing for the bypoll.

Interestingly, people of Moga are also capable of throwing surprises during the polls. Though considered to be a strong Hindu stronghold, especially in the city, but it looks as if the people of this constituency never voted on basis of caste or religion. In fact, out of 14, nine times the wining candidate was from the Sikh community and Sathi Rup Lal, father of present Congress candidate Sathi Vijay Kumar; Malti Thapar and Joginderpal Jain were the only Hindu candidates who had represented this seat.

Political experts and the old timers living in the city view this secular character of the voters of the constituency primarily because Moga was the hub of various social and political movements, which had ramifications at the national scene.

As a result of this, the voters of Moga have always been alive to the current political situations and been courageous enough to go against the tide, they say.

Weather it was great freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, who hailed from Dhudike village near here, or leader of the Ghadar party Nidhan Singh Chugga, who belonged to Chugga village, which is about 10 km from here, both had left imprints on the minds of the people of this region.

And who could forget the students' movement in Moga that shook the entire state of Punjab in 1972.  Not to miss Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who had initiated a bloody movement against the government in the late seventies. He hailed from Rode village near Moga.

In the recent times, Akalis have been launching their political campaigns from Moga before going for the assembly polls, as was witnessed in 1996, 2006 and recently in 2011, before bouncing back to power.

Sukhbir's social engineering questioned
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal always takes pride in giving a more secular face to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) by bringing in several Hindu candidates in the panthic party and calls it a social engineering.

"In most cases Sukhbir only roped in businessmen who had loads of money to spare for the party and elections. For instance SAD MLAs Sarup Chand Singla, Deep Malhotra, Avinash Chander, Prem Mittal, Parkash Chand Garg, NK Sharma and now Joginderpal Jain, are all businessmen and have never risen from the ranks of any political party. This trend is worrying for Punjab as it would not allow the ordinary worker to come forward in a political set up on merit and only wealthy people will force their way into politics," said Ajay Sood, who has been associated with a socialist party for many years.

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