Punjab polls 2017: Why every party wants Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's support

Leaders from various parties have been visiting Singh in a bid to win over his followers.

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As parties gear up for assembly polls in Punjab, each party would like to keep one man very close to them. With a massive 5 crore follower base, Chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is a sought after man in Punjab during the poll season. With well over 40 lakh voters as his followers in Punjab, political parties are making a beeline to keep themselves in the good books of the cult leader.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Leaders from various parties have been visiting Singh in a bid to win over his followers. Singh's Dera has its own political wing that recommends its followers with candidates and parties to vote for in the polls. While Singh has been asking his followers to vote for 'good and clean' candidates, the political wing of his cult has already shortlisted the candidates that they will endorse. It is this list that every political party and its candidate want to be a part of. Because of his following, he has been described as being politically influential in the Malwa region of Punjab. In the 2014 Haryana polls, his organisation supported the Bharatiya Janata Party. In February 2015, he openly supported BJP in Delhi elections and in the Bihar assembly election in 2015. This time around, however, there seems to some changes in the way Dera is looking at the parties and Congress may have just won its favour.

Leaders from Congress, People's party of Punjab and Shiromani Akali Dal alike have visited the headquarters at Sirsa. The minister of state for external affairs, Preneet Kaur as well as Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh visited the sect headquarters earlier in January.

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