The tainted Gurmeet Ram Rahim's Dera Sachcha Sauda centres in Sri Ganganagar and neighbouring Hanumangarh may not be amongst most sought after places during elections after conviction of Gurmeet in two murders and rape cases.
However, Gurmeet, born in Sri Gurusar Mordia village in Sri Ganganagar still has a dedicated following. Political parties also realise the potential of these ‘vote-centres'. They keep and eye on these centres and their followers to ‘grab' enmass votes of lakhs of Dera followers spread across these two districts bordering Punjab and Haryana, where Dera wields a great influence.
According to Harbhajan Insan , a dera supporter, politicians avoid coming to dera after conviction of Ram Rahim.
“But they have a list of followers, whom they are meeting individually,” he said. He said that dera is a non political entity and doesn't get involved in electioneering. “There is no diktat from dera but indications are there,” he said.
The high density of scheduled caste population in Sriganganagar district (36%) and Hanumangarh (28%) is the key in these elections.
“Dera has mass following in these areas. Most of them are illiterate and belong to lower middle class. They blindly follow instructions of 25-member committee of Dera Sachcha Sauda even while electing public representative,” said a Dera functionary on the condition of anonymity.
There are 11 assembly seats between Sri Ganganagar (6) and Hanumangarh (5) districts. In 2018, elections, Congress and BJP had won 2 seats each in Hanumangarh district while CPI (M) had won one.
In Sri Ganganagar district, three seats were won by BJP, two by Congress and one by independent who supported the Congress government.
Though dera followers have so far shown no inclination. But the fact that BJP government in Haryana had supported the parole of Gurmeet Ram Rahim several times must be playing in their mind.
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