Haryana

Dera Sirsa no more a deciding force in Haryana elections

October 09, 2019 08:36 AM
Dera Sirsa Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Haryana Minister Anil Vij (a file pic)

By Chanchal Manohar Singh

The Dera Sacha Sauda, was once a powerful sect with its capacity to impact the victories of many political light weights to heavy weights with millions of its committed and dedicated followers in two states-Punjab and Haryana-. He would barter votes for patronage extended by influential political parties, likes of Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). But following execution of its chief in rape and murder case, now, the Dera Sacha Sauda has lost it shine.

It appears that Dera’s influence has also dwindled to a large extend, and the political leaders also does want their reputation to be soiled by having association with this organisation. The SAD may have also learnt a lesson or two, after having manipulated turned around of the Akal Takht, firstly ex-communicating Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, then getting him exonerated and again ex-communicating him for the same alleged offence. Who had been behind these manipulated developments?

Once charismatic leaders who made tall leaders sit in his feet including the members of two ruling families of Punjab. Their pics’ sitting in front of Gurmeet Ram Raheem went viral, seeking support for their party not only embarrassed them, but put them to shame. Even op temporal seat of the Sikhs-the Akal Takht’s image got soiled was by the necked manipulations exercised by the SAD’s top leadership.

Though he still has a large following, but his charisma has been soiled by his criminal cases of rape and murders.   He is in jail, failed even to get bail. He was also denied parole. Now, he is a pale shadow of its former self.

The Sacha Sauda Dera, a sect with its headquarters in Sirsa, has many Dalits, farmers and migrant labourers among its followers. But his ram Raheem’s sheen has been diluted even among his followers to some extend after Singh’s 2017 conviction. Therefore, the current low-lying leadership of the sect is yet to decide as to whom to support and political pandit feel Sacha Sauda has lost its hold as well ability to command the unwavering loyalty of followers. Many of its followers have also taken a shift to new spiritual leaders.

In the ensuing October 21 assembly election in Haryana, Dera’s political leadership, is in a dilemma as no political party came forward seeking the endorsement of their candidates. If at all any leader attempts for strengthening his position, it may be secretive venture. So far, no political party or individual leader came forward to announce that it has Sach Sauda Dera’s sure support in this election, fearing that he may lose many of his other supporters.

But that does not mean that Dera Sacha Sauda would not play its role in Haryana elections or four by-elections of Punjab.

There, may be some secret parleys among the political leaders to seek Dera’s votes and the Dera’s Political wing, which is silent spectator at the moment, may send secrete messages to it followers, known as Premis to vote for a particular party or to a selected few candidates.

It appears that Dera’s influence has also dwindled to a large extend, and the political leaders also does want their reputation to be soiled by having association with this organisation. The SAD may have also learnt a lesson or two, after having manipulated turned around of the Akal Takht, firstly ex-communicating Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, then getting him exonerated and again ex-communicating him for the same alleged offence. Who had bee behind these manipulated developments? It also effected the glory of the Akal Takht, causing appointment of a new Akal Takht Jathedar, in an attempt to restore the dignity and prestige of the Sikhs highest temporal seat-the Akal Takht Sahib.

The Dera followers’ indulgence in violence and disruption, damaging and burning properties of commoner in Panchkula, after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction by the CBI court, in August 2017,  100 criminal cases were registered against the sect followers and thousands of them were arrested. Taking the law into their hands and challenging the state’s authority by its Premis has badly crippled the Dera. Since then, there has been no major political activity by the sect that is also reflected in this election in Haryana and bye election in Punjab.

The Dera’s endorsement do not always helps and promote a victory. In 2007, though, the Dera backed Congress with great pump and show in the Punjab assembly polls, but the party still lost, and in 2017, it supported the SAD (Badal) that too faced a humiliating defeat. The SAD that ruled Punjab consecutively for two terms-ten years, failed to get numbers to be an opposition party in the assembly.   Changing its strategy to support and vote, in the 2009 Haryana assembly polls, and again in the 2014 Haryana state polls, the Dera attempts to go with the winning horse. Same way, in the 2012 Punjab state elections, it attempted to support the winning party-the SAD.

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