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Capt seeks blessings of Dera Ballan head

Amritsar member of Parliament and Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday held a closed-door meeting with Dera Sachkhand Ballan head Niranjan Dass, who holds a considerable influence over the Dalit community in Punjab, particularly in the Doaba region.

punjab Updated: Oct 25, 2015 12:03 IST
Vishal Rambani
Amritsar MP Captain Amarinder Singh seeking blessings of Sant Niranjan Dass, the head of Dera Ballan, during a function at Guru Ravidas Temple in Patiala on Saturday.
Amritsar MP Captain Amarinder Singh seeking blessings of Sant Niranjan Dass, the head of Dera Ballan, during a function at Guru Ravidas Temple in Patiala on Saturday.

Amritsar member of Parliament and Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday held a closed-door meeting with Dera Sachkhand Ballan head Niranjan Dass, who holds a considerable influence over the Dalit community in Punjab, particularly in the Doaba region.

The state has nearly 32% Dalit population.

Ravidassias are the follower of dera Ballan, which has already started propagating its own religion by setting up temples in various parts of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Apart from publically sharing the stage with the dera head at a religious function, Amarinder held a meeting with him for an hour, which was also attended by Dera Baba Nanak legislator Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and dera Ballan pointsman Kabir Dass.

The meeting holds significance as in the 2007 and 2012 elections, the Congress lost in Punjab due to its poor performance in the Doaba region. In 2007 and 2012 assembly elections, the Congress managed to win only four and six seats, respectively, in the Doaba region, once considered its stronghold.

To undo the damage of 2007 and 2012 and to please the Dera Ballan followers, Amarinder spend nearly four hours at the religious function and also partook of langar

The dera head didn’t met Punjab Congress president and Amarinder’s bête noire Partap Singh Bajwa, who had announced to meet him on Friday.

Giving inclination towards the Congress and Amarinder, the dera Ballan head, in an unusual act, allowed Amarinder to speak from the stage during the religious function. Amarinder lauded sects’ effort to uplift the downtrodden.

“I am grateful to Maharaj ji (Niranjan Dass) as he visited Patiala and blessed us. The Congress is a secular party and respect all religions,” said Amarinder, while promising support to the dera.

Later, at the private meeting, Amarinder urged the dera head to be a guiding force for the Congress in the Doaba region and sought his blessings, said sources.

The Amritsar MP also discussed various other issues related to the Dalit community and the current religio-political situation in Punjab. Amarinder said the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was keen to visit the dera Ballan.

In a setback to the Congress in the 2012 assembly elections, the Dalits in the Doaba region, who are followers of the dera Ballan, had voted for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The BSP vote share increased in Phagwara, Nakodar, Kartarpur, Jalandhar Central, Jalandhar North, Jalandhar Cantt, Garshankar, Sham Churasi, Banga, Nawanshahr and Balachaur, where the Congress lost by a thin margin, benefitting the SAD-BJP alliance.