Punjab deputy-chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday inducted Kabir Dass, former Congress general secretary and former deputy mayor of Patiala municipal corporation, into the Akali fold.
In a setback to the Punjab Congress in the Doaba region, party’s general secretary Kabir Dass, who is also Dera Sachkhand Ballan point man, resigned from the party on Tuesday.
Dass, a Dalit leader, is likely to be Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate from Shutrana or Nabha reserved assembly segments.
Dera Sachkhand Ballan has a large following in the politically significant Doaba region. Dalits constitute about 32% of the population in Punjab, which is the highest, percentage-wise, among all states. Of this, over one-third (12% of Punjab’s population) identify as Ravidassias and most of the Dera Sachkhand Ballan followers are Ravidassias.
Recently, Dass organised two meetings of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh with Dera head Niranjan Das.
In 2012, Dera Ballan followers had voted for the Bahujan Samaj Party resulting in Congress’ rout in Dalit dominated Doaba region.
Giving reasons for quitting the Congress, Dass said: “I was feeling suffocated in the Congress as some party leaders have an autocratic style of working. They don’t respect Dalit leaders. I will join Akali Dal without any pre-condition,” he said.