Is BJP’s friendship with Gurmeet Ram Rahim a ‘vote bank politics’?

Chandigarh: In the past over 100 hours of the Dera Sacha Sauda mayhem, the BJP government in Haryana led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar relied on lies, half-truths and secrecy to defend itself in the face of the mayhem which left 36 people dead and over 250 injured.

The Khattar government, which has come under attack for its inept handling of tough situations leaving the common people at the mercy of marauding mobs, be it the Jat agitators in February last year or the Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) followers on Friday, has chosen to brazenly pat itself on its back for “controlling the situation within three hours” and even claiming that things could have been worse.

And why not the BJP-led Khattar government will remained mum?

After all, the saffron party (BJP) have sought favours from the Dera chief  Gurmeet Ram Rahim and the sect head even supported the saffron party (BJP) ahead of assembly polls in 2014 in Haryana and during the 2015 Delhi assembly election.

According to a report by The Indian Express, as many as 19 of the 47 BJP MLAs including Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala had gone to pay obeisance to the Dera chief after the poll win in 2014 when the party was voted to power in the state for the first time on its own.

Interestingly, in last few years, BJP leaders have openly supported the Dera chief.

The DSS chief has been receiving favours from the Manohar Lal Khattar government of Haryana earlier.

Just three months back, CM Manohar Lal Khattar had announced tax exemption for six months on movie Jattu Engineer featuring Ram Rahim Singh.

Khattar had announced the tax exemption at an event in Karnal in May.

Earlier, the chief minister had started a cleanliness drive along with the dera chief.

Haryana CM Khattar during a cleanliness drive along with the dera chief. Courtesy: India Today

Haryana Sports Minister Anil Vij decided to donate Rs. 50 lakh to the Dera Sacha Sauda organisation, headed by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, for promoting sports in the state.

Sports minister Anil Vij with Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Courtesy: NDTV

Another senior and one of the most powerful leaders in the party unit is Kailash Vijayvargiya, also BJP’s Haryana election incharge paid a visit to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to seek his blessings after BJP won the Haryana elections.

YouTube video

While other political leaders remained mum, there are aslo others who came to the defence of Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

BJP leader and MP from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh Sakshi Maharaj described him as a “simple person” the self-styled godman who was convicted of rape.

He said the rape allegation against him had been made by “one person” while he had the following of crores of people.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy tweet claiming that there’s a conspiracy against Sadhus to grab their properties.

What the Khattar government is not wanting to admit is that its “achievement” was at the cost of 36 lives lost in these three hours.

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While Khattar chose to remain silent for several hours before and after the violence, his chosen officers continued to mislead the Punjab and Haryana High Court, media and the public with unabashed lies and half-truths.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court bench of Acting Chief Justice Surinder Singh Saron, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Avneesh Jhingan took the Haryana government and its Advocate General B.R. Mahajan to task for misleading the court on various occasions.

“The administrative decisions were paralysed because of the political decisions,” the bench observed.

The High Court didn’t mince words to accuse the Khattar government of succumbing to “vote bank politics” (the Dera had supported the BJP in the 2014 elections) and letting the Dera followers gather and create mayhem. It held that the Khattar government was in collusion with the DSS.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim with Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, Union minister V.K. Singh. Courtesy: The Hindu

The bench even questioned Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma, who was recently seen touching the feet of the sect chief and prostrating before him, for giving a grant of Rs 51 lakh from the state funds to the DSS.

with agencies inputs