Skip to main content

Behind BJP-Sangh support to Dera chief: Massive "effort" to woo Dalits into Hindutva fold, expand vote bank

By Our Representative
Even as violence around the CBI court verdict in a 2002 rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh spreads to the National Capital Region of Delhi with several neighbouring states on high alert, facts have to come light about close links of the ruling BJP and the rock star sadhu.
The BJP's close ties with the Dera chief, found guilty of rape, go back to early October 2014, when he met 44 of the party's 90 candidates in fray for the Haryana state assembly polls in October to seek the "Guruji's blessing".
The meeting lasted for less than 15 minutes wherein the Dera chief showered his "blessings" on them and asked them to meet the political wing of the Dera. Leading the "contingent" was Kailash Vijayvargiya, Madhya Pradesh Urban Development Minister and BJP's campaign in charge for Haryana.
Couple of days after the meeting, the Dera announced open support for the BJP, a departure from its 24 year practice of refusing to be identified with a political party. All of it was preceded by the BJP's detailed strategy to woo the Dera. Exactly six days before the 44 candidates met the controversial Dera chief, BJP chief Amit Shah had a meeting with Ram Rahim at his Sirsa Dera.
Shah sought the Dera chief 's "blessings" for both Haryana and Maharashtra, as he knew, the Dera reportedly had over 60 lakhs followers in Haryana and over 25 lakhs in Maharashtra. After the meeting, Shah was asked to meet the political wing of the Dera. Even here, Vijayvargiya, then BJP general secretary, played a key role.
Around this time, during a campaign for the Haryana Assembly elections in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to have showered praise on the rape-accused godman while addressing a rally in Sirsa.
Amid applause and cheers, Modi is reported to have said: "Mein guru maharaj Ram Singhji Mastanji ke Sacha Sauda ko pranam karta hun (I salute Ram Singhji, Mastanji's Sacha Sauda)."
Later, he tweeted in support of the godman, saying he "appreciates" his and his supporters' efforts to help his Swacch Bharat campaign.
The BJP softness towards the Dera chief is not just evident in the manner in which the Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana tried to soft pedal the mood building around the verdict against the Dera chief, with the state administration allowing his supporters to put up camp in parks and other open spaces and store petrol, diesel and arming themselves with sharp weapons and stones.
While the Haryana government refused to impose Section 144, disallowing a gathering of more than four persons, and the reason given was “clerical error”, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh absolved the Khattar government of any blame, stating, “We can’t blame the administration, they took precautions and it’s a democracy.”
Meanwhile, various BJP leaders and supporters, including the Haryana chief minister, have begun to blame this violence on everyone but Dera Sacha Sauda followers. “Anti-social elements got mixed up with followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and resorted to violence disrupting peace,” Khattar told media late on Friday.
Other reactions are even more alarming. Sakshi Maharaj, MP from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, also accused in a rape case, wanted to know why the courts had not listened to the opinions of the “crores” who stood with the godman, adding, the courts would be responsible for any escalation of violence.
While RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha declined on television to comment on whether Khattar had failed in his duty as chief minister, saying that it might "hurt the sentiments of the state", Minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani warned TV news channels that they should not “cause panic, distress or undue fear”.Subramanian Swamy, BJP Rajya Sabha MP, called the verdict a "conspiracy" by politicians and ashram workers to grab the wealth of such organisations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi merely condemned the violence, saying that he, the National Security Advisor and the Home Secretary were "closely monitoring the situation", but did not utter a word on Khattar’s handling of this.
Interestingly, Haryana education minister Ram Bilas Sharma said that Section 144, which was imposed in Panchkula following High Court intervention, “did not apply to Dera supporters”, going so far as to call the Dera supporters as “simple, peace-loving people” who wouldn’t “harm even a plant”.
A major backer of Ram Rahim in the Haryana BJP is health minister Anil Vij, who is said to have donated Rs 50 lakh from Haryana government funds to the Dera’s sports project. Another minister, Manish Grover, who holds the portfolios of printing, stationery and urban local bodies, donated Rs 11 lakh to the Dera from his discretionary fund.
The support for the Dera extends to the Central government, whose Union minister for sports Vijay Goel has promised to support the Dera with Central funds.
BJP insiders, despite massive violence which has killed tens of people, consider Ram Rahim a valuable political ally for the party, as they say, he commands the loyalty of over 1 crore followers across the country, particularly in Haryana and Punjab.
“Dera commands a large voter base of over a crore, with a large percentage of Dalits. They vote en bloc. BJP leaders have been in regular touch with Ram Rahim and expected him to play a major role in bringing votes the party’s way in Haryana and Punjab in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” a senior BJP leader has been quoted as saying.
“Dera followers are not small in number, in fact they are huge. We have to move very, very cautiously. Patience is the need of the hour. A wrong move and things can go out of control. We have already seen that in the 2016 Jat agitation,” the leader added.
The RSS has been in touch with the Dera people allegedly because "the Deras work with the Dalit community, particularly Dalit Sikhs, who are ill-treated by Panthic Sikhs", and this helps the organization to "bring them back into the Hindu fold", an RSS functionary says.
He adds, "The Panthic Sikhs emphasise on the minority nature of Sikhs. We don’t see them in that way. Often even mainstream Sikh leaders take radical positions or appease radical elements. The Deras can help us counter this”.

Comments

Uma said…
Anything "they" do is because of democracy; anything any one else does is illegal, immoral, anti-national, and undemocratic!!!!

TRENDING

Nirma varsity demand for higher fees 'illegal', violates Article 14: Letter to Gujarat HC

Counterview Desk
Students of Gujarat’s top private institute, Nirma University, situated in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, in a letter to the Chief Justice the state High Court, have complained that the authorities are demanding “full fees” from students, without taking into account the “disproportionate impact” the lockdown has on the livelihood of students and families.

Vulnerable to Covid-19, sharp rise in murder of Indian journalists during pandemic

By Nava Thakuria*
Vulnerability of working journalists in India is no way an alien issue as the populous country loses a number of working journalists to assailants as also medical emergencies. Even though there was only one casualty in the Indian media fraternity during the first half of 2020, who was targeted for journalistic work, India has begun witnessing an alarming number of media casualties during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Plant organic, eat fresh: Emlen Bage's journey from migrant labour to agri-entrepreneur

By Chandrashekar and Kriti*
Who is a farmer? Type this question in the google search and check out the images? You can see men thronging the screen. This is the popular perception around the globe. Well one can understand how difficult it would be for a woman to defy this perception.

High youth unemployment: India 'fails' to take advantage of demographic dividend

By Varun Kumar
As coronavirus pandemic continues amplifying challenges among youth with regard to employment opportunities, government policies have further resulted in economic slowdown, leading to mass unemployment and loss jobs. According to the International Labour Organisation report “Covid-19 and the World of Work” (May 27, 2020), around 94 percent of the world’s workers are living in countries with some sort of workplace closure measures in place.

Dichotomy? US Hindutva groups oppose racism, mum on Modi's 'anti-minority' stance

By Our Representative
The Hindus for Human Rights (HHR), a US-based advocacy group, has noticed a major dichotomy between the stance taken by RSS’ US arm, Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS), expressing “shock” at the “painful killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others”, all of which suggest “the tragic tale of racial injustice” in US, and HSS’ “hatred” for India’s religious minorities and Dalits.

Ahmedabad lockdown: 37% poor households didn't get ration, Dalits, Muslims worst hit

By Rajiv Shah
An authoritative survey, carried out by a group of academics and social workers, among low-income settlements in Ahmedabad during the Narendra Modi-announced Covid-19 lockdown, has said a whopping 37% of the households did not receive any free ration from the government. Of those who did receive ration (59% households), Dalits or scheduled caste (SC) and minority communities were found to be at the receiving end.

Bhima Koregaon: Demand to free all 'political' prisoners as Varavara Rao tests Covid positive

Counterview Desk
The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a network of several civil society, trade union, students and civil rights groups, has sought immediate release of veteran poet-activist Varavara Rao, who has tested Covid-19 positive. Also seeking release of all political prisoners, in a statement, CASR said, “Instead of making arrangements for immediate medical care and treatment, the Taloja Jail authorities denied him medical care.”