No mainstream political party in Haryana, including the ruling BJP, has yet uttered a word against Dera Sacha Sauda for sending tens of thousands of its followers to gather in the town ahead of a court verdict in the rape case against their guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, and creating apprehensions of violence.
Senior political leaders admit that they don’t want to annoy the dera because of its clout in the state. “Nobody would speak against the dera, because nobody wants to lose its vote bank. The dera plays a significant role in the polls in many Assembly constituencies,” said a political leader, requesting anonymity.
During every election, the dera takes a call on the party to support. In the 2014 Haryana Assembly polls, the dera had supported the BJP. “We realised that politicians try to use the deras for their political gains. So, we decided to cast votes in a united manner as part of a strategy,” said a senior functionary of the dera.
The dera has a well connected network with its followers. To organise its followers, it has a 45-member committee for each of the states. It has units at micro level also. Normally, the political wing of the dera conveys its message to the followers, one or two days ahead of the polls.
About the present situation, Haryana BJP spokesperson Raman Malik said, “Feelings of a large number of people are attached with this issue. Any statement can end up hurting the feelings of so many people. For us, maintaining peace and law and order is main priority at the moment.”
Haryana Pradesh Congress Congress Committee (HPCC) president Ashok Tanwar said, “The matter is sub-judice and at this stage, its not appropriate for us to make any statement. Maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the state machinery.” Tawar is a former MP from Sirsa where the dera has its headquarters.
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Singh Chautala on Thursday issued a statement saying, “It is the duty of every person of the country to honour the verdict of the court as its prerogative of the judiciary to decide