Dera tightlipped on support to parties this time

Sikh sect Dera Sacha Saudu, which had backed the Congress in last Assembly elections, has remained tightlipped till now on supporting any party.

Sirsa (Haryana): Sikh sect Dera Sacha Saudu,
which had backed the Congress in last assembly elections in
Punjab, has remained tightlipped till now on supporting any
party in the January 30 polls.

While candidates of all prominent political parties in
fray in Punjab polls have made a beeline to its doorsteps
during past few days, the Political Wing of the sect, which
has considerable following among Dalit Sikhs, has left
everybody guessing about its strategy.

According to Dera sources, over 250 contestants including
Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, his wife and Union
Minister Preneet Kaur, several candidates from ruling
Shiromani Akali Dal, besides PPP visited the Dera premises
here and "sought blessings" from Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim
Singh during past two weeks.
While the Dera Chief himself maintained that politics
should be left to political parties and the Dera merely wanted
that people with clean image should be elected, the political
wing is understood to have been discussions with Dera
followers converging here from various parts of Punjab.

Initially the decision on whom to support was to be taken
on January 22 but it was postponed for January 27 in view of
the fact as there was no unanimity among followers.

While nobody from among the spokespersons of the Dera
or members of political wing was available for comment,
sources claimed that no formal announcement with regard to
support to candidates or parties would be made this time.

The Dera had extended support to the Congress in the
last assembly polls in 2007.
The Dera chief, who is embroiled in a number of cases,
had courted controversy in May 2007 after a section of the
community objected to his dressing like a Sikh Guru which led
to bloody clashes between the Sikh hardliners and Dera