Updated: August 7, 2021 8:55:33 am
With an eye on Dalit votes, the newly appointed Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu visited the influential Ravidassia community dera — Sach Khand Ballan in Jalandhar. He met Dera Ballan head Sant Niranjan Dass and later said that he had come here to take his blessings.
Ahead of Punjab Assembly elections, which are scheduled for 2022, every political party wants the “blessings” of big deras, which are religious in nature but play an important role in politics of Punjab with committed followers.
“Sant ki kripa sab kuchh paye sant ki ninda sab kuchh jaye. (Sant’s blessings will give one everything and Sant’s criticism will take everything from one),” said Sidhu in his address at the dera. He said that blessings of saints were important to create a “new Punjab”.
Sidhu was accompanied by various Congress legislators mostly Dalits, including acting presidents Sangat Singh Giljian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Cabinet ministers Charanjit Singh Channi, Aruna Chauadhry, former minister Mohinder Singh Kay Pee, MLA Sushil Rinku among others.
After Dera Ballan, Sidhu visited another influential Dera Sant Pritam Dass Dera Babe Jaure in Raipur Rasoolpur village of Jalandhar district which is headed by Sant Nirmal Das, who is also the president of Shri Guru Ravidas Sadhu Samperdaye Society to which 300 of small and big deras are associated in Punjab. At Dera Pritam Das, Sidhu assured to sort out Punjab’s issues particularly those being faced by the Dalits.
Dera Ballan had earlier issued a statement sometimes back that their dera is absolutely non-political entity and does not believe or encourage the ideology of any political party and dera advises all the followers not to use the name of dera for political ends.
There are a large number of small, medium and big deras in Punjab but around half dozen of them including Dera Ballan, which has followers from across the state, outside state and among NRIs.
Dera Ballan has a large following in Doaba region, which has 8-reserved Assembly constituencies out of 23 segments. Even general seats have a good number of Dalit votes in Doaba region. “Including Dera Ballan, all deras collectively can use their influence on around four dozen Assembly segments across the state by dictating their followers,” said sources.
Farmers protest against Sidhu
Protests against the newly appointed PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu during his visits across the state have become a routine affair now. On Friday, farmers gathered on the way to Dera Ballan during his visit to Jalandhar and showed black flags to him. Police had made all security arrangements and also had verbal arguments with farmers led by Kirti Kisan Union, and BKU (Rajewal). BKU (Rajewal) leader Kashmir Singh said while farmers were protesting, politicians were only busy with forthcoming polls.
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