In a setback to the Congress in Dalit-dominant Doaba region, party’s state general secretary and point man of the Dera Sachkhand Ballan, Seth Satpal Mall is set to join the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Mall, a low-profile worker who has not contested any election, belongs to the Ravidassia community and is key member of the management of the dera Ballan. He was active in the Adampur assembly segment and was vying for the Congress ticket.
Sources close to Mall said he was active in the segment till Friday, when another dera man from Patiala, Kabir Das, who recently left the Congress to join the SAD, fixed his meeting with the SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.
“Mall’s move to quit the Congress is surprising as he was seen as a strong contender from the Adampur assembly segment. Leaving the party was not on his mind till Friday evening. I don’t know what happened overnight,” said a senior leader close to Mall.
Mall, who confirmed that he was joining the SAD, failed to give reasons for quitting the Congress. “I would only disclose the reasons in presence of the SAD chief on Monday,” he said.
Sukhbir is likely to induct Mall into the party fold on Monday in Jalandhar when he would visit Mall’s house in Jalandhar city.
Sources said Mall has been promised SAD ticket from the Kartarpur assembly segment in palce of Sarwan Singh Phillaur.
Phillaur had to resign as a minister in 2014 after his son Damanvir Singh’s name came in the Jagdish Bhola drug case.
Before Mall, sources said, the SAD tried to convince Kapurthala senior superintendent of police Rajinder Singh to join the party and contest from Kartarpur, but he refused citing family reasons.
Sources in the SAD and the Congress said that Dera Sachkhand Ballan of the Ravidassia community in Jalandhar has played “crucial” role in Mall’s sudden move to leave the Congress and join the SAD.