Doubts are looming large within the Akali Dal after the party announced two tickets for a family in Moga district. While Agriculture Minister Tota Singh has been given a ticket from Dharamkot, his son Barjinder Singh Brar alias Makhan Brar will be contesting from Moga constituency.
Of the tickets announced till now by SAD, Moga is the only district where a family has been given two of the four seats in a district. This move, apparently, has not gone well with the people within the party. They have even expressed doubts whether Tota Singh’s family would be able to win both the seats.
Party spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema while supporting the move said, “There is no rule in SAD that a father-son cannot get ticket in a district. Barjinder has got ticket on merit and not because he is son of Tota Singh.”
Similarly, party’s Baghapurana candidate and Moga district president Tirath Mahla said that ‘there was no stronger candidate available to contest from Moga than Tota’s son.’
Another senior leader of the party while terming it a ‘gamble’ said, “Tota and his son needs to prove themselves by winning both seats else SAD will lose not one but two seats in Moga if they fail.”
However, it is not for the first time that Moga is being a witness to father-son rule. The current Moga MLA Joginder Pal Jain joined the Akali Dal in 2012 after resigning from Congress. He again won the bypoll on a Akali ticket. Later his son, Akshit Jain went on to become the Mayor from the city in 2015.
A staunch rival of Jain, Tota opposed his entry in Akali Dal tooth and nail but was overpowered by Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal who not only welcomed him in party fold but also declared him as Moga candidate in the bypoll. However, Jain, this time, has backed out from 2017 polls citing ‘health issues’.
The situation has come a full circle for Tota who has not only managed to retain his own ticket from Dharamkot despite uproar over cotton crop failure and spurious pesticides scam, but also his son Barjinder who has been announced as a candidate from Moga. Extremely close to CM Parkash Singh Badal, Tota since long was vying for a ticket for his son from Moga, said sources.
Sharing his views about the development, Jain stated that now when the party high command has put their trust on the father-son duo and given them two of four Moga tickets, they need to walk the talk. “They have been given the tickets after they claimed that they competent enough to win two of four Moga seats. I never asked for a ticket from Moga for my own son. He is already doing his work as a Mayor. But now Brar clan needs to walk the talk and win both the seats for the party. Sukhbir Badal ji must have considered all factors before giving tickets to them,” said Jain to The Indian Express.
Ironically, Barjinder was named as one of the accused in Moga sex scandal in 2007 in which some influential people from the city were booked for alleged sexual harassment of minor girls. The case is going on in CBI court. Brar however claims that it was a ‘political vendetta’.
“My ticket is purely on basis of merit. As per the party’s survey, people wanted me to contest from Moga. Before being Tota Singh’s son, I am a loyal party soldier who has worked hard for this. As far as Moga sex scandal case is concerned, it is a political vendetta and verdict will prove it,” he said.