Punjab: In wooing Dalits, Akali Dal’s gain is Congress’s loss for now

The Congress was yet to recover from the loss that the SAD took another Seth Satpal Mal on board Monday.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Updated: October 26, 2016 2:07 pm

Even as Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal attempted to woo the Dera Sachkhand in Ballan near Jalandhar in last few months, the SAD managed to take into its fold two prominent supporters of the dera.

While former Patiala deputy mayor and Congressman Kabir Dass joined SAD last week alongwith his son, another Ravidassia dalit Congress politician from Doaba Seth Satpal Mal joined SAD in Jalandhar on Monday. Both are considered close to the head of Dera Sachkhand Sant Niranjan Dass.

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Dass was instrumental in organising a meeting of Amarinder with the dera head a few months ago. Amarinder had visited the dera and met with its head to garner his support. The Ballan dera, considered the Mecca of Ravidassia dalits, is believed to influence 19 seats in Doaba having 23 Assembly segments as out of 32 .5 per cent dalits one third are Ravidassias, concentrated in the Doaba region.

Kabir Dass, a businessman, had sought the Congress ticket from Shutrana, say sources close to him. Instead, he was asked to concentrate on Dirba. But this was not working out. This annoyed the dalit politician, who joined the SAD last week.

The Congress was yet to recover from the loss that the SAD took another Seth Satpal Mal on board Monday. Mal was denied a ticket from Adampur in Jalandhar and was believed to be a reason behind Congress faring badly in Doaba in 2012. This is believed to have upset the dera and helped the BSP candidate instead. SAD eventually won from this seat.