Ahead of 2017 assembly polls, the factionalism within Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is intensifying, after a group of councillors close to agriculture minister Tota Singh alleged favouritism in choosing pilgrims for Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra by the Moga legislator Joginderpal Jain.
The pilgrimage train under Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra Yojana will depart from Moga railway station to Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib in Nanded (Maharashtra) on Saturday morning.
Threatening to resign from the party, a group of 25 SAD-BJP councillors, led by Tota’s closeaide Gurminder Singh Bablu and deputy mayor Jarnail Singh, held a meeting at DC Camp office on Friday, and decided to halt the train if authorities will not include names of their recommended pilgrims.
Councillors have raised antislogans against MLA Jain and mayor Akshit Jain, who is the MLAs son, for their autocratic behaviour. Jain had given 10 forms to each of the 50 ward councillors to send pilgrims of their choice from their wards; but the nominated names were not in the list.
“We had assured all the selected people in our wards to pack their bags for the yatra and at the end moment, we got to know that Jain has not included their names in the list. Now what are we supposed to say to those people,” Bablu said.
The councillors said that Jain has deliberately done this to earn brownie points in the constituency ahead of assembly elections, and send a bad message among their respective wards that the councillors have no power in their hands.
“We will not tolerate this attitude and even if the high command fails to support us, we will be forced to resign from SAD party and halt the pilgrimage train,” they added.
Amid ruckus, district planning committee chairman Tirath Singh Mahla rushed to the camp office to control the situation and asked the DC to adjust pilgrims recommended by councillors in the list.
Sources said initially, Jain was adamant on his decision to not adjust more pilgrims, but finding the situation critical he decided to adjust all the people in the list.