Jailed candidate exits polls for BJP

Liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda, an accused in the murder of a Dalit youth in Abohar in Punjab, had filed his nomination as an independent candidate.

The gruesome murder of Bhim Tank, a Dalit youth in Abohar, a little over a year ago had led to widespread outrage, especially among Dalits in Punjab. The matter was even raised in the Rajya Sabha.

Lodged in jail, the accused Doda, who is among the top three wealthiest candidates in the poll fray, was planning to contest the elections from behind bars.

On Friday evening, he backed out in support of BJP candidate Arun Narang from Abohar. But the incident has given enough fodder to the Congress, which took to the streets protesting the ‘atrocities on Dalits’, to drub the ruling dispensation for its “anti-Dalit”acts.  
Despite Doda’s decision to be out of poll fray by Saturday, the incident is likely to impact the decision of voters.

Tank, whose legs and arms were chopped off and strewn around, was murdered at Doda’s farmhouse in the area.

Doda, who owes allegiance to the Akali Dal, was pitted against Congress candidate Sunil Kumar Jakhar, who is the son of slain former Punjab MLA and former Madhya Pradesh Governor Balram Jakhar. Doda’s electoral plans came to light following a raid inside the jail early this month.

An illegal meeting with supporters, chaired by Doda inside the jail, was exposed during the raid. The assistant jail superintendent was suspended. About 25 people, including some members of the ruling SAD, were also booked.

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