The Dera Sacha Sauda, an influential committee in Punjab, hasn’t officially revealed which political party it is supporting for the Punjab polls to be held on Sunday. Indications, however, are emerging from it is suggesting “tacit support” to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP candidates.
The decision has been taken after a brainstorming session of the political affairs committee of the Dera over the last few days in Punjab. Interestingly, on the seats where SAD and BJP are in the direct contest, the Dera has decided to support the candidate who has better chances of “winning”.
As per reliable sources, the dera functionaries will be reaching out to their supporters through various modes including WhatsApp groups falling in their respective constituencies. Sources added that the Dera committee has also prepared a list of candidates who it believes have been “indifferent” to the policies of the Dera and have asked followers to vote against them.
The Sirsa-based Dera has a following of about 50 lakh supporters and wields considerable clout in the Malwa belt, which has 69 out of 117 seats in the Punjab assembly. The Dera can influence voters in about two dozen constituencies which include of Patiala, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Muktsar, Mansa, Faridkote, Bathinda, and Barnala.
In Punjab, this time, all parties are eyeing the Dalit votes as 32 per cent of the population is from the community and a majority of Dera’s followers in this belt belong to the community. Dera votes can tilt the tide in this belt, though majority of its followers in the villages are siding with the AAP.
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