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Sukhbir pays ‘secret visit’ to Dera Beas

With Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal paying a ‘secret visit’ to Dera Radha Soami in Beas.

Written by Dharmendra Rataul | Amritsar |
February 10, 2011 10:46:36 pm

With Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal paying a ‘secret visit’ to Dera Radha Soami in Beas,about 40 km from here,on Wednesday,rumour mills are working overtime to gauge the motive of the “unplanned trip”. Not part of his official tour,Sukhbir’s visit to the dera is being linked to the next Assembly elections due in February 2012. According to sources in the party,he suddenly asked his security staff and district officials to plan his “personal visit” to the dera,where he remained with dera head Baba Gurinder Singh Dhillon for more than one hour.

“He was alone when he was meeting Baba. It was a personal visit,” said top sources in the administration,adding that they were not aware what transpired at the meeting. Several political leaders,including UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and BJP supermo L K Advani,had in the past visited the dera that has a huge following and influence in this area,apparently to garner support for their respective parties.

Sources close to Sukhbir said he wanted to pay the visit “alone”. None of the party workers were aware about the visit and the police were taken by surprise when the programme was changed at the last minute.

So highly guarded was the visit that none of the senior police officers was informed and no senior party leader was accompanying him. Due to this change in the schedule,he reached late to various venues where he was to attend functions on Wednesday. “We were surprised why he was running late from the programmes. Everyone maintained a silence and no one spoke on the matter,” said an official.

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It is pertinent to mention that the wife of SAD MLA from Majitha and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia,who is Sukhbir’s brother-in-law (wife’s brother),belongs to the family of former dera head Baba Charan Singh,whom Dhillon takes in very high esteem.

Political observers feel the visit was a “strategic move” in the run-up to Assembly elections. None of the Dera functionary was ready to make any comment. The dera that has a huge following in North India usually attracts political leaders from all parties before polls. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had visited the dera ahead of 2002 Assembly elections,accompanied by Moti Lal Vora,who was then party’s Punjab affairs in-charge.

Expelled Congress leader Natwar Singh had also been a frequent visitor to the dera. Chief Minister parkash Singh Badal and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh,too,have been visiting the place,but it was perhaps Sukhbir’s first visit,which incidentally comes at the crucial time when all political parties in the state are preparing for the next Assembly elections. “During election times,political leaders visit the dera for support. It is obvious that Sukhbir Badal might have gone there for the same,” said Prof Jagroop Singh Sekhon,former head of political science department at Guru Nanak Dev University here.

Majithia,meanwhile,said he was not aware about the visit,while Amritsar Deputy Commissioner K S Pannu said it was the deputy CM’s “personal visit”. SSP (Rural) G S Chauhan said they made security arrangements at the last moment as Sukhbir suddenly “wished to go to the dera”.

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