source: The Pioneer > Online Edition : >> Dera followers seek Congress tickets Dera followers seek Congress tickets Ajeet Singh - Hisar THE DAILY PIONEER, Chandigarh Friday, September 18, 2009 The 15-member political wing committee of Sirsa based Dera Sacha Sauda has become active in the run up to Haryana State Assembly elections and has sought Congress tickets for 32 seats. Simarjit Singh, a member of the Political Wing Committee (PWC) said that Dera followers, popularly known as premis, have traditionally supported the Congress and the party should give them tickets in areas of their influence. “We would like to contest Assembly seats from Sirsa, Ratia, Fatehabad, Narwana, Kaithal, Jind and several others,” said Singh. Though official spokesman of Dera, Pawan Insaan denied any directive from the Dera Headquarters to support any particular political party but added that followers would decide locally to support any candidate of their choice. “The Dera is a non-political organisation. Its main aim is to spread the social, moral and spiritual values in the society and among its members irrespective of their faiths or any other alliances individual members may have,” said Insaan. But that is the usual stance the Dera chief takes on every election eve. Political observers say that Dera followers act in unison usually in favour of the Congress. They did so in the last Punjab Assembly elections and the Congress fared well in the Malwa region while facing a near rout in other areas. A close relative of Dera chief was elected as a Congress MLA in Punjab. Violent clashes had erupted between the Dera followers and the workers of radical Sikh religious bodies soon after the Assembly elections and the Akali workers too had joined the agitation against the Dera Chief Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh. Political leaders of different hues recognise the electoral behaviour of Dera followers and pay obeisance to the Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to seek his favour. Leaders like Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and Congress leader Captain Amrinder Singh, Ajay Singh Chautala of INLD and Bhajan Lal are among the leaders who visited the Dera in the past to seek Baba’s blessings. The Dera chief is presently involved in several cases being tried in the CBI Court at Ambala. These cases include the killings of a journalist and two Dera followers and the rape of a woman follower. Sources said the Dera followers want the Congress leadership to help sort out several CBI cases against their Baba. They feel the Congress has not been helpful enough despite supporting them in the elections.