Updated: January 29, 2022 9:12:50 am
Days after joining the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Gurpal Dhotian, who is an accused in the hooch smuggling case along with his brother Rashpal Dhotian, was inducted into the Congress fold on Friday by sitting Patti Congress MLA Harminder Gill.
Earlier, SAD candidate from Patti and former minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon had gone to Gurpal’s house when the latter joined the SAD on January 18.
The Dhotian brothers are accused in the hooch tragedy case in which more than hundred people had died in the Majha region in July and August of 2020. While his brother, Rashpal, is on the run in a related case, Gurpal is out on bail in another hooch smuggling case.
When asked if Gurpal’s joining will reflect poorly on the Congress, Gill said that Gurpal has an influence on the voters and his re-joining will only strengthen the party. “Our party members have a following but SAD had taken them from now. And now that they are coming back, it is good for the party. There is nothing more to read into this,” Gill said.
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Meanwhile, after his induction, Gurpal said, “I had joined SAD, but our Dalit families in the village were urging me to return to the party. They said that while our CM Charanjit Singh Channi, who is also from the community, has an opportunity to become the CM again, I should be supporting the Congress. I had to surrender to their will and now I am back.” He confirmed that MLA Gill took them back to the party. “It is true that some false cases were registered against us but now that is not the matter. The bigger issue in hand is to make Channi the CM again,” he said.
Incidentally, most of the victims of last year’s hooch tragedy were from the Dalit community. Even after attaching the house of the Dhotian brothers, police failed to arrest Rashpal, who is still on the run. Now the same houses are being used for campaigning. Rashpal, who is a self-styled godman, also used to run a Dera in Dhotian village and has a lot of followers from the Dalit community. It is one of the reasons why political parties are vouching for their presence.
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