In a jolt to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), six-time MLA and former minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur has resigned from the party and also as legislator after he was denied ticket from his Kartarpur constituency in the first list of party candidates released on Wednesday.
Sources in the Congress told HT that Phillaur is likely to join the party on Friday in the presence of its state chief Captain Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh. He has been in touch with the Congress for the past few days.
Phillaur, who had to resign as tourism and jails minister in April 2014 after his son Damanvir Singh’s name cropped up in the Bhola drug case, has been sidelined in SAD for the past two years.
He was also summoned and quizzed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the drug case twice because of his alleged “business association” with Goraya-based businessman Chunni Lal Gaba, whose properties worth more than `100 crore were attached by the ED in the drug case.
The former minister told HT that he submitted his resignation as SAD member to party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and as MLA to assembly speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal on Thursday morning through his “representative”, but did not disclose his future course of action. “I will give all details, especially why I left the SAD, in a press conference in the coming days,” he said.
Meanwhile, Damanvir Singh claimed that his father would soon make an announcement about his next move and asserted that the family would contest only from Kartarpur constituency.
Sources said several senior SAD leaders were in favour of Phillaur’s nomination as party candidate from any reserved seat in Doaba. Even on Thursday morning, efforts were made by rural development minister Sikander Singh Malooka and Rajya Sabha member Balwinder Singh Bhunder to convince the party high command to give ticket to Phillaur from Sham Chaurasi segment of Hoshiarpur district. However, this proposal received a major opposition from SAD MLA from Sham Chaurasi Mohinder Kaur Josh, who threatened to quit the party, if denied ticket.
Phillaur, who became MLA for the first time in 1977 when he was just 26, was considered among the tallest leaders of the SAD in Doaba region and a staunch loyalist of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
He represented Phillaur constituency of Jalandhar district five times before he was shifted in 2012 to Kartarpur where he managed to win by a narrow margin of around 800 votes.