The SAD-BJP alliance has made its mark in the first-ever Moga municipal corporation elections held on February 22 and bagged 32 out of 50 seats while the Congress performed badly by winning a single seat only. The SAD bagged 24 seats, BJP eight while 17 seats went to Independents and one to the Congress.
With the Akalis versusAkalis contest in Moga where Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh and SAD MLA Joginder Pal Jain had fielded independent candidates against each other's candidates contesting on the party symbol, the fight over the post of mayor between Tota Singh and Jain has become quite interesting.
Out of the total 24 seats in the SAD kitty, supporters of both Jain and Tota Singh have gained 12 each. However, out of the eight seats won by the BJP, five are supporters of Tota Singh while Jain has the support of three.
Even more interesting fact is that 17 out of the 23 rebel candidates expelled from the SAD days before the contest have come out victorious. Three independent winners belong to the Jain camp while 14 are supporters of Tota Singh.
It is noteworthy that Joginder Pal Jain enjoys the support of SAD district president Teerath Singh Malah, Baghapurana MLA Maheshinder Singh and Nihal Singh Wala MLA Rajwinder Kaur while Tota Singh is alone on the other side. However, the minister has close association with BJP leader Tirlochan Singh, who contested and won the election from ward number 5.
Manjit Singh Dhamo, an independent candidate (expelled from SAD), won from ward number 12 and is said to be a close aide of Tota Singh. He defeated Manish Kumar of the BJP with 1,500 votes as the latter managed to get only 163 votes.
Joginder Pal Jain has projected his son Akshit Jain, 35, the first-timer as the mayoral candidate. However, the other group is projecting SAD candidate Prem Chand Chakkiwala, who won from ward number 15. It is Chakkiwala's fifth consecutive win and he has defeated Amarjit Singh with a margin of 1,417 votes. He is an independent candidate, but there is no clarity about his affiliation to any group. Though not openly but silently, Tota Singh is said to be extending support to Chakkiwala.
Gurminder Singh Bablu, personal assistant of Tota Singh, who contested on the SAD symbol from ward number 38, defeated Independent Sukhdeep Singh. Bablu bagged 1,316 votes while Sukhdeep (fielded by the Jain group) got 329 votes. He is also being projected as the mayoral candidate.
Akshit Jain, 34, son of MLA Joginder Pal Jain, contested the elections for the first time and won from ward number 35 by bagging 1,344 votes. He defeated Independent candidate Suman Rani, who managed to get 92 votes. Jain has projected Akshit Jain as the mayoral candidate. Akshit runs his real estate business. He is being groomed in politics by his father as he accompanies senior Jain in all important political functions.
Kirpal Singh, 27, son of former SAD member of Parliament, Kewal Singh, also a first-timer, contested as an Independent from ward number 50 and defeated SAD candidate Ravinder Singh Raju with a margin of 4 votes. Kirpal Singh polled 455 votes while his opponent got 451 votes.
Abhinav Singla, 24, an Independent from ward number 41, defeated Rakesh Bhalla of BJP by securing 638 votes against Bhalla's 428.
Women: Out of 17 women candidates in the fray, 14 have emerged winners. Four were SAD contestants while two were from the BJP and 11 were independent candidates. In total, 14 are first-timers. However, husbands of six women contestants were councillors in the last municipal council.