According to many, a major reason behind the BJP's emergence as the single largest party in Haryana where it bagged 47 out of 90 seats in the October 15 assembly election was its eleventh-minute deal with the Dera which has a big influence among the backward and social caste communities in North India. The Dera has been trying its hand in the politics of Punjab and Haryana in recent times, said reports.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned very close to the Dera ahead of the Haryana polls and also praised Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the head of the organisation who is accused of financial irregularities and also murder and rape, on his cleanliness initiative.
Soon after, BJP's 44 poll candidates went to Ram Rahim Singh under the leadership of Kailash Vijayvargiya, a Madhya Pradesh minister and the party's election-in-charge in Haryana, to seek his blessings. Before their visit, BJP chief Amit Shah had also met the Dera chief. Captain Abhimanyu, front-runner for the chief minister's post in the state also played an instrumental role in making the meeting between the Dera and the BJP leaders possible.
Dera Sacha Sauda was formed by Shah Mastana, a Balochistan-returned ascetic
The Dera announced its open support for the BJP soon after its chief met the BJP candidates. This was the first time that the body had openly declared support for a political party. In 2007, the Dera supported Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress in the Punjab election and though the party lost, it did well in the Dera-dominated areas of the state.
The BJP benefitted instantly from the Dera connection. According to observers, the connection mobilised the Dera's massive support base in favour of the BJP and even many of them contributed as the polling agents of the saffron party. The fact that the Dera has 25 lakh supporters in Maharashtra also went to the BJP's advantage.
The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party were naturally unhappy. The Congress accused the BJP of entering deal with tainted people in lieu of political support. It questioned whether the Dera chief, by supporting the BJP, would get relief in connection to charges against him.
Earlier, the BJP had raised questions on the connection between the Congress and Dera. Now, it is the Congress to raise its voice. But whatever be the scenario, it all comes down to winnability in Indian politics.