While the Rape Convicted Baba Ram Rahim Singh’s Dera Sacha Sauda Supporters are burning the nation, more 32+ Killed so far, thousands of injured and crores of loss to public and private property, A question arises in everyone’s mind:
Who made these Baba so powerful, a Godman Figure and who funds them?
The answer to these questions includes not only the blind followers of these Baba’s but the major gameplayers are the political parties who support them politically for the greed of huge followers vote bank. In this case of Baba Ram Rahim, he too enjoyed political support by various political parties from time to time but 2014 was the year when the connections of Bhartiya Janta Party, the current ruling govt. were seen with Dera.
During the campaign for the Haryana Assembly elections in 2014, PM Modi reportedly showered praise on the rape-accused godman while addressing a rally in Sirsa. Apparently, this was the first time that a major political leader had openly invoked the Dera during an election campaign. The Congress and Akali Dal leaders, who often sought the support of the Dera in the past, made it a point not to publically name the Dera or its controversial chief.
On the other hand, the 2014 Haryana election was also the first time when Dera Ram Rahim chief openly voiced his preference for a political party – the BJP. Before this, Ram Rahim’s diktat to vote for one party or the other was communicated through more secretive ways to his followers, mostly through the political wing of the Dera.
On October 7, 44 of the 90 BJP candidates turned up to meet Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at his Sirsa-based Dera. The meeting, which began at 5 pm, lasted for less than 15 minutes wherein Guru ji 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.
Several members of the Bharatiya Janata Party had sought the support of Singh and through him his sizeable following in the run up to the 2014 Vidhan Sabha elections in Haryana. This was the first time the dera had openly influenced elections in Haryana.
As these reports trickled in, other BJP supporters were at pains to distance the violence from the followers of the Dera.
BJP Defending Baba Ram Rahim
Sakshi Maharaj, MP from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, who stands accused of rape himself, wanted to know why the courts had not listened to the opinions of the “crores” who stood with Singh – and also declared that the courts would be responsible for any escalation of violence.
Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani, had a slightly more oblique warning, reminding television news channels that according to broadcast rules, they should not “[cause] panic, distress or undue fear”.
Subramanian Swamy, BJP member, and Rajya Sabha MP, called the verdict a conspiracy by politicians and ashram workers to grab the wealth of such organisations.
In October 2014, the political wing of the dera had announced to support the BJP in the assembly elections and several top BJP functionaries had visited Sirsa for the ‘blessings’ of the dera head.State coordinator of Lokniti, a social science research programme of Delhi’s Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Kushal Pal told The Tribune, that a study of constituencies indicated that the dera supporters followed the diktat to vote for the BJP, irrespective of candidates, almost en block. Pal, who is also head of the political science department at the Karnal-based Dyal Singh College, said it was the first time in Haryana’s politics that religious sects officially played such a significant role in key parties’ agenda.Though the dera had silently supported candidates in the past, it happened officially for the first time in Haryana in 2014, he said. Another analyst said while BJP wooed the dera, the Congress tried to polarise Sikh voters from the Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD) electoral kitty on the formation of ad hoc Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC).However, the result of the last assembly polls showed that the Congress’ Sikh panel card did not amount to much for the party. The INLD, too, failed to gain by opposing the move.“Dalits form a sizeable support base of the dera who seem to be insecure because of various incidents around last state elections. The socio-economically backward strata followed the dera head’s directions and the BJP gained in several seats,” Pal said.In few some constituencies, the number of dera followers may not have played a decisive role. But they gave BJP candidates an edge in places where the contest was neck-and-neck, he said.Pal also dismissed that dera’s direction failed to reap benefits in Sirsa district, where the sect is based, and in the adjoining Fatehabad district.“INLD has a traditional base in these two districts and heavy polling indicated that Jats, the party’s traditional vote-bank, were consolidated to save its electoral grace,” said Pal.
The Political Followers of Baba
The conviction of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for rape charges and the subsequent violence in Punjab and Haryana have left many BJP leaders in Haryana red-faced. An estimated 19 of the 47 BJP MLAs including Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala had gone to pay obeisance to the Dera chief after the poll win in 2014 when the party was voted to power in the state for the first time on its own.
Among those who visited the Dera chief were Krishan Lal Panwar, Krishan Bedi, Nayab Saini and Manish Grover, who are now ministers in the state government while Kanwar Pal Gujjar is Assembly Speaker.
BABA FUNDED BY BJP
At least three senior state ministers in the BJP government in Haryana — Ram Bilas Sharma, Anil Vij and Grover — have together gifted Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Rs 1.12 crore.
The state education minister, Ram Bilas Sharma, who publicly defended Ram Rahim’s followers that have brought three states to a standstill, had made a public spectacle by gifting Rahim a cheque of Rs 51 lakh recently.
Talking to the press on Friday, Sharma called DSS followers “simple, peace loving people,” who may have gathered in Panchkula in huge numbers “but till now have not touched a single plant”. The minister, who defended the sect on the day when it caused large-scale violence, was a guest at DSS headquarters in Sirsa on August 15 to celebrate the sect chief’s birthday.
At the birthday, Ram Bilas Sharma not only came in person to wish the self-styled godman a long life, but also presented to him a donation of Rs 51 lakh, from his ministry’s discretionary quota ‘to promote sports’.
But this was not a one-off incident. BJP ministers seem to have a habit of visiting DSS headquarters and donating large amounts to the sect from the state’s discretionary funds.
In August 2016, the health and sports minister Anil Vij also announced a huge donation to the Dera Sacha Sauda at its headquarters in Sirsa, Haryana.
“It is a very good thing. Along with religion, education and games are there. That means they are trying to prepare a complete human being,” Vij told reporters at the headquarters. He added, “He [Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh] is encouraging the games. Since the schools are also encouraging games here, I would like to donate Rs 50 lakh from my discretionary fund,” he added.
Vij, when questioned about this move not only defended his decision and said he had the authority to spend money as he wanted, also said that he would’ve gifted Ram Rahim more money had there not been a ceiling on his discretionary fund expenditure.
“I could not give more than Rs 50 lakh out of the discretionary fund. Had it been possible, I would have given more,” he had told media.
Just a few days after Vij’s huge gift to Rahim, another Haryana state minister, Manish Grover, who has an independent charge for Ministry of Co-operation, Printing & Stationery and Urban Local Bodies, donated Rs 11 lakh to the Dera from his ‘discretionary funds’ as well. Grover also proudly stated that he had the blessings of Ram Rahim.
“I have full blessings of Guru Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim and he will take the youth forward… On this occasion being the representative of Haryana government, I am giving Rs 11 lakh to Dera Sacha Sauda from my discretionary fund,” Grover told reporters last August.
But the present BJP government in Haryana is not the only one to cozy up to DSS in the hope of spreading their influence in the state through the lakhs of DSS followers. In the past, several Congress leaders, including the present Chief Minister of Punjab – Amrinder Singh, and the former Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had also embraced Ram Rahim Singh before elections.
DSS followers have left a trail of destruction in Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. At least 32 people have been killed and over 250 have been injured in the violence that started from outside the CBI court in Panchkula, where the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted of rape on Friday.
It was only after the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the state was forced to intervene and rein in DSS followers.
The Failure of Govt to stop the Supporters entering Panchkula.
The administrative failure of the Manohar Lal Khattar government stems from its political compulsions. The BJP in Haryana enjoys close ties with Dera Sacha Sauda and this seems to have impaired it from cracking down on Dera goons on time. Nothing embodies this failure more than Haryana education minister Ram Bilas Sharma’s comment that the Section 144 imposed in Panchkula “did not apply to Dera supporters”.
The High Court had already warned the State Govt and Centre for making needful security arrangements for any protest during the verdict of Court. The govt. was given ample time by the Hon’ble Court, but the Govt seems to disobey the court directions too. The High Court castigates Haryana Govt, says CM Khattar is protecting Dera Sacha Sauda too. The High Court slammed state Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan and held Chief Minister ML Khattar responsible for protecting the Dera Sacha Sauda.
DESTRUCTION IN PICS
DISCLAIMER: The Current Analysis Article is being published with the sources and references mentioned below.