Dera Baba Factor

The Dera Sacha Sauda cult in Punjab and Haryana began to flex its political muscles in 2007, and by 2014, its clout had begun to matter in the Lok Sabha election. Parties and political bigwigs used to assiduously woo Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim. The Baba ostensibly never asked his 50 million followers to vote for any particular party, but the Dera had a separate political wing which decided who to support. But the 2019 Lok Sabha election is different for Dera followers. With the Baba behind bars after convictions for rape of female followers and murder of a journalist, the Dera political wing is almost non-existent and its followers are in limbo. In the Outlookreport ‘Bling Baba’s Offline Army’ on its April 8 issue, Dera followers have poured out their eagerness awaiting their Guru’s return, vowing their readiness to vote for the party which promises to get the Dera chief released. This desperation of Dera followers could swing the results in at least three Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, it is being surmised. This report is but the latest illustration of the ‘truth’ politicians of all hues pay heed to in India — come election time, it pays to keep godmen and their followers in good humour!

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