Left with thin legal options to get party stalwart Sucha Singh Langah’s conviction in the disproportionate assets case suspended, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is set to replace him with one of his sons from Dera Baba Nanak assembly segment for the 2017 polls.
“Langah’s son will contest,” SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal told Hindustan Times here on Saturday.
The former cabinet minister, Langah, 64, was the SAD’s best bet from the predominantly rural Dera Baba Nanak constituency that is along the Pakistan border in Gurdaspur district.
The high court had suspended his three years jail sentence in March 2015, but conviction was not stayed. The law bars persons convicted for any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years from contesting elections.
In January 2012 assembly polls, Langah polled 63,354 votes, but was defeated by Congress’ Sukhjinder Singh by 2,940 votes in a close contest.
On Saturday, Langah was in Chandigarh to meet the party leadership. Although the SAD is yet to take a call on whether to field his younger son, Sukhjinder Singh Langah, or older son, Parkash Singh Langah, sources said Langah has suggested Sukhjinder’s name. Both his sons are active in the constituency.
It was after the SAD announced his candidature that the former minister had moved the Punjab and Haryana high court, seeking stay on his conviction. But the court dismissed the plea on December 21.
Sources say the only option before Langah was to challenge the HC order in the Supreme Court, which is on winter vacation.
Sources say the SAD had taken a calculated risk while giving ticket to Langah. Apparently, the strategy was that Langah will approach HC after getting the ticket to make his plea for stay on conviction strong. Langah also argued that his conviction be stayed in view of party asking him to contest the 2017 assembly polls. Otherwise, he pleaded, he will suffer irreparable loss.
In the meantime, sources say, the income tax department approached the HC on the administrative side, seeking Langah’s case file. This complicated Langah’s legal strategy. When an SAS Nagar court had convicted Langah in February 2015, the SAD leader had deposited Rs 1-crore fine in cash within hours. With the I-T department seized of the matter, it has queered Langah’s pitch.