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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

No voting directive to followers: Radha Soami sect

Surinder Maan, Hindustan Times  Moga, February 21, 2013
First Published: 20:14 IST(21/2/2013) | Last Updated: 20:16 IST(21/2/2013)

In the run-up to the Moga byelection, where stakes are high for both ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress and parties are counting precisely on every vote besides attempting to woo voters by applying various methodologies, the political leaders have also started approaching the spiritual deras of various sects and denominations -- kowtowing and seeking votes in blessings.

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The Dera Radha Soami of Beas has sought to maintain a distance from all the political parties and candidates contesting the byelection and making it clear that the dera was a non-political organisation, which respects all political parties in same measure and its followers were free to cast their vote to anybody they like to.

The clarification comes in the wake of an impression created by the supporters of Akali candidate Joginder Pal Jain that he was being supported by Dera Radha Soami Beas. A senior Congress leader had also recently approached the dera. However, the dera head had reportedly told him that they respected all political parties alike, hence they did not support any candidate in particular for the byelection.

The dera has reportedly made it clear to its supporters that it has never asked for votes for any candidate and nor was the dera doing it now. The dera is learnt to have maintained that there was no question of it supporting any particular candidate and Radha Soami followers are free to cast their vote to any of the candidates they want to.

Besides many rural-based deras, including the Sikh camp such as Nanaksar Thaths, having specific follower base, some senior Congress and Akali Dal leaders are trying to win over Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa, (Haryana) and Dera Radha Soami Beas as a large number voters in Moga assembly constituency are followers of these deras.

Dera Sacha Sauda has a large number of supporters in villages and Moga town, while Dera Radha Soami has good number of followers in urban area as well as some villages of Moga assembly constituency.

Sources revealed that on Wednesday some prominent Congress leaders, including Congress Working Committee (CWC) member Jagmeet Singh Brar, had visited Dera Radha Soami and met to dera head Gurinder Singh Dhillon.

Reliable sources of Dera Sacha Sauda have revealed that the political affairs committee of the dera has started dialogue with the local committees of the dera followers and a final decision will be taken a few hours before the election.

CWC member Jagmmeet Singh Brar said the dera chief confirmed that the followers will cast their votes as per their desire. “The dera chief assured us that any dera official did not announce to support to any candidate. The Congress welcomes the dera's historical decision,” he added.
Dera Sacha Sauda, headed by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has more than 20,000 votes while Radha Soami sect has around 8,000 disciples in the Moga constituency.

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