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

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.