A DAY after the announcement of the first list of SAD candidates, six-time MLA and two-time Cabinet minister, Sarwan Singh Phillaur, resigned on Thursday. After spending nearly four decades in the party, he was denied ticket by the party high command this time due to a pending Enforcement Directorate (ED) inquiry against him and his son Damanveer Singh pertaining to druglord Jagdish Singh Bhola’s synthetic drug case.
Although Phillaur is the MLA of Kartarpur, SAD is fielding Seth Satpal Mal, who joined the party last month after leaving Congress, from this seat. SAD had announced all the six candidates of Jalandhar district on Wednesday by dropping Phillaur and Avinash Chander, the Phillaur MLA, who is also facing ED inquiry in the same case.
Phillaur confirmed that he has resigned. SAD had already started sidelining him over the past few months and his son Damanveer had also expressed the same in the media and even fought with other party leaders, including Transport Minister Ajit Singh Kohar.
Elected to the Assembly from Phillaur on an Akali Dal ticket for the first time in 1977, Phillaur was re-elected from this seat in 1980, 1985, 1997 and 2007. In 1992, SAD boycotted the Assembly election. In 2012, Phillaur won from Kartarpur when his seat was swapped with that of Avinash Chander. Phillaur lost just once in 2002.
After winning the 2012 election, he was made Cabinet minister and given charge of jails, tourism, cultural affairs and printing and stationary. Phillaur was earlier Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes in 1997. When Damanveer’ s name cropped up during the ED investigation into the Bhola case, Phillaur had to resign as minister. Damanveer and his father even appeared before ED under Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Damanveer was summoned when Bhola told the ED that it was the former, who had introduced him to Delhi-based synthetic drug supplier Varinder Raja, through Chuni Lal Gaba, a Goraya-based businessman and Phillaur’s close confidant, who is in jail.