The Dera Sacha Sauda’s call to support the AkaliBJP alliance in Punjab assembly polls did not go down well among its followers, known as ‘premis’.
As the Saturday polling came to a near-end at Naseeb Pura village in the district at 4 pm, several youngsters, including ‘premis’, were seen sporting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) badges at a ‘naka’ that they laid to check any infiltration of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) workers from outside to lure the voters with money.
A panachayat member, Sukhdev Singh, said that the youth wanted a change in their villages and they had started raising the “real issues of public importance such as no pensions, no compensation for the devastated cotton crop of last year and no water for irrigation etc.”
On Friday, the ‘premis’ at Dheona Pujaria village in Talwandi Sabo constituency raised a voice of dissent against the dera edict, as many argued in their meeting that the development has gone down to the lowest ebb under the Badal regime.
In Abohar segment of Fazilka district, a close associate of the senior Congress leader Sunil Jakhar said, “Had the dera call (for support to the Akali-BJP combine) got good response, the victory of the Congress will not have been visible as it now is.”
“The circumstances have now changed and the poor mo longer ignore their key issues of survival, notwithstanding the blind faith in their sectarian gurus,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Reacting to murmurs of dissent among ‘premis’ over support to the SAD-BJP, Zora Singh, the dera leader at the Salaabatpura centre of the sect, said, “What can I say. I can only say that a true ‘premi’ will never defy the edict of Baba ji (dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh).”