Murder accused Shiv Lal Doda, 45, then an ice vendor, fled to New Delhi from Abohar in 1987 after severely injuring a person. He returned to his hometown in 2005 — as a liquor baron.
Later, Doda turned a ‘social worker-cum-politician’ and sought the BJP ticket from Abohar, a subdivision of Fazilka district, in the 2012 Punjab assembly polls. When he did not get it, he jumped into the fray as an Independent. His election management skills, coupled with money power, helped him secure 45,825 votes to finish second in the triangular contest. Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar re-entered the assembly with 55,613 votes, while the Akali-BJP nominee, Laxmi Bhadoo, had to forfeit her deposit.
Playing the good Samaritan, he formed the Seth Chabil Dass Trust in Abohar and pumped in money to resolve the long-pending sewerage problem of the town, besides arranging more than a dozen tankers to provide water to residents of the area, especially the slums.
Thanks to his clout in Abohar, Doda went on to become the halqa (constituency) incharge of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Last year, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal visited his sprawling farmhouse spread over 20 acres at Ramsara village, where the brutal murder of Bhim Sain took place on Friday. Doda accompanied Sukhbir during various foundation-laying ceremonies in the town before the 2014 parliamentary polls.
In an apparent bid to scuttle the prospects of BJP candidates, Doda fielded eight nominees as Independents in the 2015 municipal council (MC) polls in Abohar. Four of them won, and he managed to get his close aide Ashok Ahuja installed as MC vice-president.
“He was in contention for becoming a Rajya Sabha member with the support of former Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren in 2008 as well as 2013, but things did not go his way,” sources said.
Doda is reportedly running the liquor trade in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and other states. He also has a major liquor cartel in Gujarat, a dry state, sources added.