Lesson for Dera Followers: Politicians of Punjab, who used to make a beeline to seek Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s blessings before going to contest the poll battle, have virtually turned a blind eye towards his followers in their “hour of need”After the CBI court Panchkula awarded 20 years’ imprisonment to the rape convict Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the politicians of Punjab, who used to make a beeline to seek his blessings before going to contest the poll battle, have virtually turned a blind eye towards the Dera followers in their “hour of need”.Irrespective of the fact that in the past couple of years Dera could hardly benefit them as they expected, still finding the sect having huge clout of its mass base, better say “the vote bank”, the Dera Sacha Sauda’s headquarters in Sirsa would always be a major attraction for almost every candidate jumping into poll fray especially from the constituencies falling in Malwa region of Punjab.However, now when the Dera head is behind bars and the law enforcing agencies of Punjab and Haryana are on the hunt for his followers either directly or indirectly involved in the violence which the two states witnessed after the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, no politician is ready to take the risk of standing beside them.This act of detachment from the political side is now disturbing the Dera followers but they are not in a situation to express their annoyance, at least for now. A similar feeling of being “destitute” had also troubled the Dera followers when the politicians had kept themselves apart from them during their bloody clashes with the Sikhs, who had objected to Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s alleged act of imitating the tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh.For those disturbing years, when the Dera-Sikh clashes led to arson and killings on both sides, Sikhs were supported by the Akal Takht and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and various other social and religious bodies but the Dera followers had to fend for themselves.Projecting themselves as the victim of circumstances, the Dera followers had also openly alleged Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s close kin Harminder Singh Jassi of betraying them in the “hour of need” whom they had voted in 2007 and made Bathinda MLA just for the sake of the Dera head as Jassi’s daughter was married to Ram Rahim’s son sometime back.Now before going to 2017 polls, be one the candidate from the Congress, Akali Dal, BJP, AAP or any other outfit, including those contesting independent from Malwa region, except few, everyone drove to the Dera in January. Some of them, launching long-time strategy, had started visiting the Dera to seek Ram Rahim’s blessings much ahead of that.There was a day in January this year when over two dozen candidates belonging to different political outfits collectively drove to the Dera for audience with its chief.Former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Vijay Inder Singla, Kewal Dhillon, Karan Kaur Brar (all Congress), Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Sikander Singh Maluka, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Jeetmohinder Singh Sidhu (all SAD), Narinder Sandha and Malkit Singh (AAP) were among the prominent ones, who could be spotted in the crowd there.Interestingly, on being encountered, each of one of them told the media that it was their routine visit to spend time in the pious religious congregation of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, having no political expectation from his side.However, now when the elections are far away and the sect in wading through turbulent period with every religious, social and commercial activity of the Dera lying closed and media as well as the law enforcing agencies are also after the Dera, the politicians have detached all their bonds with the Dera followers, with one liner: “We respect the court verdict and the law is taking its own course.”Few days back, Health Minister Brahm Mohindra first dared to come out in the support of the Dera followers, saying that the guilty was punished and the innocent Dera followers shouldn’t be victimised with also assuring the compensation to the victim of police firing. However, within a few minutes, he took a u-turn and withdrew the statement. Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh also categorically denied giving any compensation to the injured or killed Dera followers.Under such circumstances, the Dera followers who used to boast their sect head’s political connections would have certainly realised that it is just to become the masters, politicians pose as servants.
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