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The stakes are high and every vote will count in the bypoll to Moga Assembly seat. The constituency has been witness to an unprecedented intensive campaign in the run up to the bypoll with more than the prestige of candidates of the three main parties — SAD, Congress and People's Party of Punjab (PPP)—- at stake..
In the 2012 Assembly polls, the Congress candidate had won with a margin of more than 5000 votes. However, the party is now facing a huge challenge in retaining the seat. The challenge, similarly, is big for the SAD as the polls will also test Badals' hold over the party as also the party president Sukhbir Badal's poll management skills. "The Congress may lose one seat, but Sukhbir will lose face," is how a Moga resident puts it.
Both the parties are hoping to cut into the PPP's votes. The PPP candidate in the 2012 election, as also in the bypoll, Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal, had secured more than 9,000 votes, which is 7 per cent of the total votes polled. Dhaliwal, a former employee of Nestle India Limited, which is running one of its largest units in Moga, was supported by several trade unions.
The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), with more than 20,000 workers under its umbrella, supported Dhaliwal in the last elections and is supporting him again this time. This is mainly due to the PPP's alliance with the left. The AITUC is affiliated to the CPI (M).
Incidentally, the AITUC was ready to join hands with the Congress against the Akalis but a deal could not be reached.
"We could not reach a consensus on the sharing of seats for the parliamentary elections next year so the AITUC reiterated its support for the PPP candidate," says Varinder Kaura, general secretary of AITUC, Moga.