Chandigarh, Feb 10: The battle-lines have been drawn for the Moga assembly seat by-election in Punjab between the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the opposition Congress. Ten candidates are in the fray for the Feb 23 polls.
The main contest is between Akali Dal candidate Joginder Pal Jain and the Congress candidate Vijay Kumar Sathi.
Jain had quit the assembly seat and the Congress party Dec 26 and joined the Akali Dal. He was elected from the Moga seat on the Congress ticket in the 2012 assembly polls.
His resignation forced a by-election.
The Congress leadership, led by state Congress president Amarinder Singh are urging Moga voters to “punish” Jain, a “turncoat”.
“He has betrayed the people of Moga who elected him only last year. He should be punished,” Singh said.
But Jain defends his decision saying that he quit the Congress due to the functioning style of Congress leaders and also because dissidence were being encouraged against him.
For Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal, Jain’s exit from the Congress and his subsequent entry into the Akali Dal was a “political coup” to embarrass state Congress leaders.
The Akali Dal announced Jain as its candidate for the bypoll despite strong reservation from its own leaders.
“Our candidate will win by a margin of over 51,000 votes. The Congress will be finished,” Badal said.
Congress leaders have accused the ruling party of trying to intimidate the voters in the constituency.
The People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) led by former finance minister Manpreet Badal, has fielded Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal in the contest, ignoring a move by the Congress leadership to put up a joint opposition candidate.
There are also independents in the fray.