Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda’s decision to support candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal–Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in Punjab assembly polls has not gone down well with a section of followers in Bathinda.
Natha Singh, who claims to be a former member of the district-level committee of dera followers in Bathinda, said the followers opposed the decision during a meeting at Mehma Sewai village in Bhucho assembly segment on Thursday. He said the 200 followers in attendance have decided to put their weight behind Congress candidate from Bhucho Pritam Singh Kotbhai.
“The Akalis have always opposed the dera and harassed its followers. So how can we support them in the polls?” he questioned, adding followers in other assembly segments, too, shared the same sentiment, but were not expressing it in the open.
Balraj Singh, a member of the dera’s political wing, however, claimed those who attended the meeting were not dera followers. He said Natha Singh was removed from his responsibilities two years back after he was found “not fit” for the job.
Followers of the dera headed by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh have major presence in 27 segments, especially in the Malwa region that accounts for 69 of the 117 seats. In the last election, the dera had thrown its weight behind the Congress, and the SAD-BJP was thus routed in its Malwa stronghold, even as the alliance got a simple majority.