Former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sarwan Singh Phillaur on Friday along with 16 other party leaders and workers joined Congress.
They were welcomed into the party fold by Punjab Congress party president Amarinder Singh who also hailed the joining of Aam Aadmi Party’s Surinder Singh Ryait to the party.
Phillaur claimed he and his son were “framed” in the multi-crore Bhola drugs case and said that all the accused had named Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia as the “kingpin” in the case.
“We were not asked, else we would also have named Majithia,” he said in response to a question while charging the Akali government for trying to “protect” the minister.
“Though he had worked honestly and ceaselessly for 40 years, Majithia was not happy with his seniority and did not like the rise of a Dalit in the party,” Phillaur claimed.
A former cabinet minister, Phillaur, who quit SAD on Thursday, expressed his disillusionment with the Akalis, saying the party had changed for the “worse” over the years.
He accused SAD of deviating from its basic principles, including Dalit protection, and alleged that the party had now become “Sukhbir’s and Majithia’s Akali Dal”, with no place for the old guard or Dalits like him, “who were being denied representation”.
Phillaur alleged that he was ignored by the Akalis for being a Dalit as was evident from the fact that tickets had been given to many leaders “who were accused or convicted in criminal cases”.
“Senior Badal himself told me that Sukhbir is running the show and did not respect his seniority,” he claimed.
Phillaur said not only had he been denied appropriate housing but his son was also booked under a “conspiracy” by Majithia.
The former SAD leader said, “Though charge sheets in the drugs case had been filed, neither me nor my son had been named in the same, clearly indicating a conspiracy against us”.
He said he has apprehensions that SAD would again try to “defame” him and his son by either reviving the case or “implicating” them in a new case.
Phillaur reiterated that he had resigned from the state cabinet, where he was a minister, on moral grounds, and his decision had been “welcomed by one and all”.