Updated: February 13, 2021 12:49:42 pm
Elected the first Mayor of Moga in 2015 when the internal political tussle in Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had divided the party into two camps in the district, Akshit Jain, son of ex-Moga MLA Joginder Pal Jain, is out of the poll race this time.
Then 26, Akshit was elected Moga’s first Mayor surpassing many veteran councillors from his own party SAD. That election, SAD had two camps — one led by his father’s supporters (Joginder Pal Jain was then Moga MLA till 2017) and the other by SAD veteran leader Jathedar Tota Singh and his son, Barjinder Singh Brar alias Makhan.
As the 50-member Moga Municipal Corporation House goes to polls on February 14 (Sunday), Akshit, the ‘young’ outgoing Mayor of the city has opted not to contest the polls this time.
At the end of his tenure as Moga Mayor, Akshit says that he has decided not to contest polls this time because “it is just not easy to work for development in such an environment where many try to pull you down constantly”. He also says that his father’s poor health is another reason why he has opted not to contest on SAD ticket from his own ward.
In 2015, the 50-member Moga MC House was won by SAD-BJP coalition (total 32 seats) with SAD winning 24 seats and its former ally BJP winning 8. While 17 seats were won by the Independents, Congress had managed to win just one.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Akshit Jain, whose father Joginder Pal Jain had switched loyalties from Congress to SAD necessitating a bypoll in Moga in 2013, said, “After working for five years as Moga Mayor, I have realised that it is not easy to work in such environment where people are always ready to pull you down when you try to do some constructive work or bring some development. There is so much of kheecho taan, so much harassment that negative vibes from the people who do not want development to happen, don’t let you work. Also, my father’s poor health is another reason why I have opted not to contest this time…”
A postgraduate in business administration, Akshit added that he will abide by the orders of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal for Punjab elections 2022.
“We are with SAD and helping the party to campaign in all the wards of Moga. However, for Punjab polls 2022, I will go by the orders of the party high command and will accept whatever role Sukhbir Singh Badal will decide for me,” he said.
Talking about his major achievements in five years as Moga Mayor, which had its first MC polls in 2015 after being converted from nagar council to a corporation, Akshit said that working for sewage connectivity, water supply and stray cattle problem in Moga were among the major challenges.
“Since Moga was a nagar council, there was laidback attitude among the officials and no one was ready to work for development. We never lacked funds but the problem was the attitude of the officials. Still we spent around Rs 215 crore in five years on several development works such as sewage connectivity and water supply in outer wards, roads and development of five villages (Sant Nagar, Duneke, Landeke, Kothe Patti Mohabbat and Mehmawala) that were merged into MC limits. The stray cattle problem in Moga could not be solved completely because the problem is that cow shelters do not keep bulls but only cows. In Moga, we have more stray bulls. We proposed to construct a shelter only for bulls but the work could not be completed because of the interference by Congress MLA Harjot Kamal…”
Akshit also said that it was not ‘that easy’ to be a ‘young’ Mayor.
“When you try to work on some development projects, you are bogged down by the people who question how a young person can reach such a post surpassing seniors…,” he said.
However, Joginder Pal Jain’s once bete noire SAD veteran leader Jathedar Tota Singh feels that why Akshit has opted out of the poll race this time is because he is planning to move to Canada and settle abroad. “Party did not stop him from contesting, it was his choice to not contest this time. What we know is that he is planning to move to Canada and settle abroad… so if that is so, and he won’t be living in Moga, then it is good that he has opted not to contest because Moga needs a Mayor who can work for people..,” said Tota Singh.
Refuting Tota Singh’s statement, Akshit Jain added, “My brother Puneet Jain is settled in Canada but I do not have any plans to move abroad as of now. I have to take care of my father’s health and I am not moving abroad…”
Tirath Singh Mahla, Moga district president, SAD, however, said that Akshit Jain might be ‘adjusted’ in some other role when SAD forms government in Punjab in 2022.
“A chance should be given to new faces too. It is Akshit’s decision not to contest. In 2022 when SAD forms government, Sukhbir Singh Badal will adjust him in some other good role.”
Meanwhile, opposition parties say that factionalism within SAD between Jain group and Tota Singh group in Moga, cost the city its development for five years and despite becoming a Corporation in 2015, Akhsit Jain failed to undertake any major development project.
Maheshinder Singh, former SAD MLA from Baghapurana and now Congress district president Moga, said, “Congress is going to win all 50 seats in Moga MC this time. No major development project was undertaken for five years when SAD-BJP ruled the House. SAD is only getting the support from its cadre, not the common people due to sacrilege and other incidents..”
According to Harmanjit Singh, district president of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the faction ridden SAD did not let any development project happen in Moga for five years. “AAP is contesting on 49 seats out of 50 and we are going to put up a very good show in Moga. For five years, factionalism within SAD between Tota Singh and Jain group did not let any development happen… This time with AAP also contesting, tables have turned and people want riddance from SAD, BJP and Congress…”
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