Former Akali minister Sucha Singh Langah, on the run after being accused of rape, rose through the ranks after bagging the post of Gurdaspur district president of Shiromani Akali Dal in late 1980s. It was a time when Akali stalwarts Parkash Singh Badal and Gurcharan Singh Tohra were in imprisoned in Madhya Pradesh and SAD was headed by Ujagar Singh Sekhwan as acting president of the party. Langah rose rapidly in the party, getting elected as a member of SGPC, and in 1997, winning the Dhariwal Assembly seat.
But he is no stranger to controversy. Langah, who was PWD minister in the 1997-2002 government, was booked in a disportionate assets case in 2002 by the Congress government. The trial went on for years before he was convicted in 2015 by a Mohali Special Judge Court and awarded three years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 crore.
The sentence was, however, suspended by Supreme Court nearly a month ahead of this year’s February 4 Assembly elections, paving the way for him to contest on a SAD ticket from Dera Baba Nanak. But he lost to Congress’s Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa in a close contest, his second consecutive defeat after 2012 elections.
However, two successive defeats did not dent his clout with the SAD leadership and among his supporters. Until a few days back, he was thundering at poll rallies on behalf of BJP nominee Swaran Salaria for Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll.
The tables turned fast on Langah after he was booked for rape. Top Akali leadership announced his removal from all party posts, while the SGPC too accepted his resignation from its membership. Next, the Akal Takht is set to rule on his fate. The Akal Takht, known to take decisions in consultation with SAD, has summoned Langah on October 5, where it is expected that it will excommunicate him. Before the October 11 bypoll, all this is apparently aimed at salvaging the damage the rape case has done to Salaria’s prospects.
SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said: “Allegations against him were very serious. No political party can afford to defend such allegations. Let him face the law.”
Former Khalistani militant Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s sister is married to Langah’s brother. Zaffarwal was arrested in 2001 after reportedly being persuaded by Langah to return to India from Switzerland and “surrender”.