The recent results of the block samiti elections in Nihal Singh Wala and some parts of the Moga assembly constituencies in the district have created a new political equation for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
On the one hand, former agriculture minister Tota Singh showed his political strength at his native constituency, Nihal Singh Wala, as well as in Moga and Dharamkot in the zila parishad and block samiti elections, on the other, former senior Congress leaders who joined the SAD before the Moga byelection also damaged the Congress in the district.
The two sitting MLAs of the SAD were at loggerheads at Nihal Singh Wala assembly constituency in Moga district. While one of these two MLAs, Tota Singh, has his native village at Didar Singh Wala and has considerable influence in the area, the other SAD MLA, Rajwinder Kaur Bhagike, was elected from this reserved constituency. So both these leaders were trying to elbow out each other in the zila parishad and block samiti elections.
It was a major political setback for Bhagike while her 14 loyalists and candidates for block samiti were defeated by Independents, which were contesting with the support of Tota Singh.
No doubt, in the beginning the fight was between the ruling SAD and the main opposition Congress, but the results show that the actual poll battle was between Tota Singh's and Rajwinder Kaur's candidates in Nihal Singh Wala.
This struggle for political supremacy had reached a flashpoint a few months back during the inauguration of the reverse osmosis (RO) system at Rauke Kalan village, where Rajwinder Kaur Bhagike did not go because the villagers had invited Tota Singh as the chief guest. Party sources said both the supporters of these Akali leaders never miss a chance to pin down each other.
When contacted, senior Akali leader Tota Singh said the taksali Akali workers are actual wealth of the SAD. "Many workers of my native area have been attached with me for the past 30 years and they helped the SAD during all agitations without any personal interest. It is my duty that I serve the SAD workers every time," said Tota Singh.
On the other hand, former district Congress committee chief Ranwinder Singh Pappu Ramoowala, who is now in the SAD, has caused damage to senior Congress leaders in 52 villages in the block samiti elections in Moga-1 and Nihal Singh Wala area.
Harpal Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Congress, said Pappu had hold over a large number of the Congress workers and when he joined the SAD it was a major setback to the Congress.
"Our candidates could have won some more block samiti seats if our former district president Pappu had not joined the ruling party. The Congress had taken lead many times over the SAD in various elections in Ramoowala Kalan, Harchoke and Nawan Ramoowala, Dhudike, Badhni Kalan, Bhugipura, Mehna and many villages of the block Moga-1, Dharamkot and Nihal Singh Wala areas but this time we completely failed to win seats in these areas," he added.