It is the birthplace of Lala Lajpat Rai and the site of a Nestle factory, but Moga has now come to underscore every quirk of Punjab politics. For starters, Joginderpal Jain, the man who represented Moga till December last year, and whose resignation has made the election necessary, is one of the main candidates again. Apparently, Jain wants his seat back, but as a member of the ruling party this time. Then, former Punjab police chief P S Gill, the man who fought Jain tooth and nail in the last elections as the Akali Dal candidate, is now campaigning for him. The intensity of the ongoing duel between the aggressive contestants, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress and the Badal-led Akali Dal, wouldn’t impact the state’s political fortunes much.
Deep below the Moga surface, which looks more like a no-holds barred duel than the democratic process that it is, lies the overarching ambition of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, and a revelation of his strategy-in-the-making. Having tasted blood in the recent Delhi Gurudwara elections, Badal has now expanded his political vision beyond Punjab.
Gone are the days when succeeding his father Prakash Singh Badal as Chief Minister would have been enough.
“We will seriously consider putting up Akali Dal candidates in the Sikh-dominated areas of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh,” the 50-year-old Badal Junior declared after his party’s stunning victory against Congress-backed management of Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee last month.
Moga is where it has all come to roost now. The Akali Dal got an unprecedented second term in March last year, but on December 26 of the same year it welcomed Jain to its fold, along with his supporters.