CHANDIGARH: With less than two weeks left for elections in Haryana and nearly three weeks remaining for polling in Punjab, the political wing of the Dera Sacha Sauda has started actively formulating a plan to boost support to the sect and the candidates of its choice in the two states. Though Dera chief Ram Singh Gurmeet Singh is serving prison term in rape and murder cases in a Rohtak jail, the political wing of the sect headed by him has initiated the process of consulting followers, known as ‘Premis’, on which political party to support. A decision will be taken based on the followers’ feedback.
From the second week of April, ‘Premis’ were invited to attend the ‘Naam Charcha’ at the Dera’s ‘Naam Charcha Ghars’ (prayer halls). “This was the first phase to get the feedback from the ‘Premis’. More such feedbacks will be taken and finally, the 45-member political committee of the Dera will take the decision on which political party to support in these elections or not. Otherwise, the ‘Premis’ are free to vote on their own will,” said an insider.
This time, both Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal have publicly refused Dera votes. With more than 50 lakh followers in Punjab and Haryana, leaders from both camps can hardly hold their hardline stance. The Dera holds a significant influence across 40 Assembly segments in the Malwa region of Punjab, where there are more than 35 lakh supporters of the sect.