SHIROMANI Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal Sunday expelled Deepinder Singh Dhillon, the Patiala district planning board chairman, and Harinder Pal Singh Harry Mann, who recently resigned as State Information Commissioner, from party’s primary membership for “anti-party activities”.
A former Congressman who joined SAD in 2012, Dhillon was fielded in the 2014 parliamentary polls from Patiala. He had finished third in a three-corner contest where Congress’ Preneet Kaur was the runner-up and AAP’s Dharamvira Gandhi won.
Once a protege of Preneet Kaur, who rebelled against Congress and later joined SAD in 2012, Dhillon is likely to return to Congress alongwith Mann.
Dhillon has already met Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh. He is likely to be the party’s candidate from Dera Bassi in the 2017 Assembly elections, Congress sources said.
Amarinder is likely to formally accept both Dhillon and Mann into the party’s fold at Congress Bhawan.
Former Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa has played an important role in getting back the leaders.
Deepinder, an advocate, was a trusted lieutenant of Preneet who projected him as a candidate from Dera Bassi. She got him appointed as vice-chairman of the PSIDC during the Amarinder Singh government.
He unsuccessfully contested the bypoll from Banur (named Dera Bassi after delimitation) in 2009 when he was defeated by Jasjit Singh Bunny, son of late Capt Kanwaljit Singh.
He has been nurturing Dera Bassi constituency for a decade now and rebelled against the Congress in 2012, contesting as an Independent. He was expelled in January 2012. In July, he joined SAD.
Sources in Congress revealed that he was upset because Preneet could not get him a ticket, while she got it for her son Raninder Singh from Samana.
In a statement, SAD spokesman and general secretary Dr DS Cheema said that after carefully examining activities of both leaders, the party had concluded that these leaders “do not deserve a place in party as they are engaged in destabilising it from within inspite of being accorded prominent posts in government and party”.
Cheema further said that “Deepinder Dhillon was given ticket for parliamentary elections, made chairman of district planning board, Patiala, president of district Patiala (rural) but instead of being grateful to party forever, he chose to indulge in anti-party intrigues due to his lust for power.” “SAD had accorded a big honour to Harry Mann by rewarding him with prestigious post of Information Commissioner but he betrayed the party that gave him unprecedented honours and adopted a posture which cannot be tolerated at any cost.”
Dhillon blamed Akali MLA from Dera Bassi and Chief Parliamentary Secretary N K Sharma for leaving him with no option “but to quit SAD and join Congress”.
“False cases were being registered against my supporters at the behest of N K Sharma. There are numerous such instances. I raised the matter at party platform, but was not heard. My supporters told me to leave party. When I had joined SAD, on the stage in front of (CM Parkash Singh) Badal Sahib , (deputy CM) Sukhbirji and (Akali minister Bikram Singh) Majithia Sahib had told them that in 20 years I had not done any business, not made money nor did property dealing and my only earning is the people who are with me and who have been with me through thick and thin,” Dhillon said.
“My leg was broken during 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but despite that I worked hard for him and made him win from Dera Bassi segment by 50 thousand votes. He is an opportunist. If false cases were being registered against his supporters for long, why did he not leave the party earlier. Now he is suddenly remembering false cases. I have never discriminated against anyone in my constituency. People of the constituency will teach him a lesson,” N K Sharma said.